By Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture Editorial Team
Gill set out to design a regatta jacket that had all the features of a coastal jacket, yet the ease of movement racing demands and they have succeeded in spades.
It’s important to note that although designed for racers, the Coastal Racer a great for all around sailing too. We’ve put it through the paces in local regattas, cruising the Cali Coast and even while flying along on the ultra fast 105′ Maxi Trimaran Lending Club 2 (article on that coming soon!). It’s quickly become our go to jacket.
The Coastal Racer is especially well thought out, cut shorter in front so racers can make fast movements, longer in back for warmth and protection, soft fleece neck and pockets in a waterproof, windproof and breathable shell made of their signature 3Dot fabric.
The many other features include: a roll away, fully adjustable fluorescent hood that fits the head without impeding vision, low collar with a brushed finish provides protection against chafing and keeps the wind and water out, full length YKK Aquaguard front zip and waterproof internal storm guard, hand warmer pockets protected by YKK water resistant zipper, adjustable cuffs lined with a soft PU material for a low bulk seal, high visibility Reflexite reflectives and an adjustable shock cord hem for an optimized fit.
I’m a fan of the bold color block design and particularly of how well it’s executed. Available in blue/graphite or graphite/silver combinations, Gill has cleverly positioned the colors to accentuate the right places on a woman. The graphite is cut in slightly on the sides to echo the curvature of the body and it’s also used on the drainage facility on the backside in the blue version. It even works when flipped for the graphite/silver option.
Stylistically, in many ways it’s the little details that make this jacket, the strategically placed reflectors and the clever dual velcro strips are functional aspects that notch up the style. I also like how the men’s and women’s styles are similar but not exactly the same. Subtle differences in the color blocking are a nice touch.
Gill has exciting news under the jacket too. The new i2 Baselayer is very innovative, it’s made using activated carbon derived from bamboo. The activated bamboo charcoal is both naturally and permanently anti-bacterial and moisture wicking, which is an important combination, especially for off shore racers with limited clothing allowances and sailors who train daily and really maximize use of their gear.
I like that Gill is taking a natural approach, other techniques involve chemicals that cause the moisture to wick. Gill says that their base layer won’t loose it’s wickability, while other chemically treated ones loose their attributes over time as they are washed. It offers 50+ UV protection too.
The fabric has a really nice texture and is comfortable against the skin. It’s kept us cool, dry and comfortable on chilly San Francisco days and dry while working up a sweat on the bow, so the i2 lives up to promises both cooling layer and for thermal installation.
We really like the natural aspect and the graphite/silver color combination is nice too. Again, Gill really tuned up the design this year, even reducing the number of strategically placed flat locked seams for additional comfort.
A final note is how supportive Gill is of the sport of sailing, especially at the collegiate level.
We enjoyed testing out this Gill gear, particularly the Coastal Racer Jacket. While we expected a great sailing jacket, what we didn’t necessarily expect was how stylish it would be. There were many compliments on and off the water, especially for Mathew whose graphite jacket made for a cute casual jacket too. It’s exciting to see the venerable Gill brand, which has always been known for excellent sailing gear has upped the ante in the style department this year.
Kara Hugglestone is a San Francisco-based branding professional, accessory designer, sailor and traveler. When time permits, she also indulges in her passion for things classic: cars, movies, wine and fashion. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @gallerykara.
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