Hail from the Rail

Hail from the Rail

This past weekend Katie and I had a tremendous amount of fun sailing a Thistle in the Spring Series Regatta at SSA. It was a gorgeous weekend for sailing on the Chesapeake and we couldn’t ask for much more with 10 – 15kts of breeze, sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. We were both on the bow of two different boats and have the bruises to prove it! Take a look at more marvelous photos from last Saturday’s SSA Thistle Regatta – courtesy of Eric Reinke.

For Katie, it was her first time out on a Thistle, and for me, the first time out in years! We each decided to show up prepared and try out some gear to improve our sailing performance.

Bryn’s Gear Story:
Luckily, I was wearing the new Zhik Deckbeater Shorts under my board shorts. They kept my legs bruise free (for the most part) and I was able to hike harder for longer periods of time. The durable padding on the rear acted as a nice buffer from the lovely 4″ rail on the thistle.

There were three things that I really liked about the shorts. One, they fit snug and were comfortable (I easily fit into a Men’s small) and they fit underneath my board shorts allowing me just the right amount of flexibility to launch the pole and do some “amazing” roll tacks.

Second, the deckbeaters did not ride up and move around like other neoprene base layers tend to do. Zhik has these nice gel coated squiggly looking grips on the hem of the shorts- as shown above, that kept the shorts gripped to my legs while jumping around in the boat.

Lastly, The Zhiktex wear resistant material on the back of the shorts held out great. They were not too firm, yet they still kept their shape and conformed nicely- it felt a little bit more like sitting on a couch cushion compared to a 4″ wooden beam. With four 1/2 mile long legs per race, it was much more pleasant having the deckbeaters around.

Katie’s Gear Story:

Since I didn’t know what to expect having never sailed a Thistle before, I decided that I should probably gear up as well as I could and hope that the bruises stay away (wishful thinking, I know.. unfortunately for me I bruise easily). I started at the bottom with a new pair of Aigle Maramu Boots, after throwing my last pair of dinghy boots away when I decided they were not suitable enough to take the trip to Annapolis with me last year. Next, I took my skipper Joe up on his offer to let me borrow his wife’s SEA Airprene 3/4 Hikers, and wow was I happy I did that. (Thanks Lisa!)

I don’t think I really understood how much I would appreciate them until I got on the water and started to hike. As Bryn mentioned before, Thistles have a lovely wooden rail that is perfect for inflicting pain without the proper equipment. I have to admit I felt a little ridiculous in my hikers (the suspenders really add to the look, especially when they fit up far above my belly button) but they were certainly worth it after a few minutes of hiking, when I immediately started to notice how much support they gave. The battened thighs help support your legs and remain stiff while adding a nice extra layer of support. The extra cushion in the rear was also appreciated.

The other feature I loved about the hikers was the covered and padded knees. They were a ¾ hiker making them come to half way down my calf, which added the needed protection from hiking and tacking. Just a word of advice though (which I learned the hard way) you should put sunscreen in between the hikers and your boots, or you end up looking like a candy cane (or so James told me). It left quite the burn line.

So lessons learned and a better appreciation for gear, we had a blast on the Thistle course this weekend!

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5 Responses

  1. Great write-up on the gear and I love the diagram too! Can we expect to see you in a Thistle again? Mike Gillum, Thistle Class Association President

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