How to Create your Sailing System

How to Create your Sailing System

How to Create your Sailing System

how to guide jrich

As long as conditions are safe, no matter what the circumstances, rough weather should not keep us from having fun on the water. Rough weather days can be the most memorable and certainly the ones we share with others. However, poor quality clothing and out of date fabrics can ruin the day, especially for the novice boater.

Wearing lighter weight, less restrictive garments which are highly waterproof and breathable is key to staying warm, dry and comfortable, even in the worst conditions.

Genetically our levels of tolerance to cold climates are unique to each person. Suffering from the cold or extreme, heat –detracts from peak performance or simply enjoying the day on the water so hope for the best but always plan for the worst conditions.

Getting wet and cold is preventable with the Henri Lloyd layering system.

So what Is True Layering?

It’s easier to say what it’s not and that is just a bunch of clothing that we peel off throughout the day. For the best results treat your clothing as an exact science.

Base layer – Next to skin

The base layer is often considered a piece to keep you warm, but in sailing its true function is to keep the skin’s surface dry by moving moisture away from the skin surface (known as wicking). A base layer is essential for not only staying warm in cold conditions but is as important for staying cool on hot days especially when wearing waterproof breathable outer garments. Often overlooked, if you are wearing cotton tees, jeans or old washed out base layer, a more technically enhanced base layer can be a ‘night and day’ improvement in performance and comfort.

With moderate exertion our bodies give off about a quart of moisture vapour in one hour. This is the body’s natural cooling system. To prevent discomfort this moisture should not just be absorbed by fabrics next to the skin but to be able to evaporate or wick to the next layer so the skin remains dry.


Cotton clothing can absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture. Damp fabric and moist air transfers heat away from the body twenty times faster than dry fabric. If you are wearing cotton clothing next to the skin it will absorb the moisture and suck the heat out of your body leaving you feeling cold, clammy leading to early tiredness and fatigue.

Remember that base layers don’t just cover the top – leggings, socks and headwear should not to be overlooked.



Mid Layer

Traditionally worn over the base layer, the mid layer is the heat trap of the system. There is no hidden magic to staying warm, the aim is to trap dry warmed air close to the body, and the body in turn then heats this air. The warmed air can be trapped in fleece or lofted styled garments. The trapped dry air is like double glazing in a house, therefore keeping you warm.


Similar to the base layer, it is crucial that the mid layer is constructed from materials that are non-absorbing. The garment must be highly breathable to allow moisture to pass through referred to as MVT (Moisture vapor transfer). All Henri Lloyd mid layers are designed with sport and sailing in mind so are high wicking as well as warming. Some even have waterproofing so you can wear them as your outer layer on warmer days out on the water.

Outer Layer (The Shell)


The outer layer is where the real protection against the elements takes place and it must be completely water and windproof and highly breathable.

The principle purpose of the outer is to stop water getting in and to also contain the warm air within the mid layer. Another important aspect of the outer layer is to have a good MVT so that moisture can transfer from the base and mid layers out to the open air.

Dependent on the end use, there is a choice of smocks or jackets, hooded, non hooded or more recently having the option of a zip off hood. In our offshore and ocean kit you will find key safety features in the hood, including spume visors to protect your face in high winds, and Optivision panels to give you better peripheral vision – a real must when a boom could come out of nowhere.

In Henri Lloyd outerwear we also have a range of salopettes which are for sailing in serious conditions and dry suits which are a crucial bit of kit in cold and wet environments and could save your life if you fall into cold water.


Shell Salopettes

Important design aspects should also include; protective flaps over the front zip, adjustable inner cuffs alongside outer cuffs and safety features including reflective strips. Pocket placement is also important to keep your hands warm, dependant on your position within the boat.

The latest fabrics are lighter, more flexible but also more durable than ever before. You cannot gauge these fabrics by touch and feel as technology has advanced and the water proof garments have become more breathable, more durable but also softer and lighter. This allows greater freedom of movement and less tiring when worn for extended periods enhancing the on the water activity.


More posts in this category

Wild Oats XI have been busy prepping for the big day... only 7 days to go! 
All decked out in the best Henri Lloyd race gear, all odds are in their favour. READ MORE
It's racing season and the countdown to Rolex Sydney to Hobart is on! Follow the team at Wild Oats XI as they prepare to tackle the great race again. READ MORE
Henri Lloyd are proud supporters and official race gear supplier to the first all-female pro crew’s campaign in the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Ocean Respect Racing. READ MORE
"We are currently entering a new phase with new boat designs and new demands on performance. HENRI LLOYD`s designers will work with the team to come up with new innovative performance solutions that will enable us to achieve our optimal performance on the water", says Ineos Team UK skipper Sir Ben Ainslie.  READ MORE
From the original concept, to the introduction of new innovative fabric technologies combined with a thorough in-house and field testing program, we are the choice of today’s champions and the brand aspired to by ocean-goers who want to wear the absolute pinnacle of sailing technology. READ MORE
Hear what it's like to be part of the Clipper Round the World race from one of our very own ambassadors. READ MORE