There's no denying the experience John has. He began sailing at an early age, gained his Gold at Port Credit Yacht Club (PCYC), and sailed Lasers in and around North America for years. Like most sailors, he went down the racing route and found his niche in dinghy racing with the Laser class. He's raced with Etobicoke Yacht Club (EYC), Royal Canadian Yacht Club and the Ontario Sailing Team and been a race coach at EYC and for Oakville Yacht Squadron (OYS). He's also has experience with Cats sailing them at Cherry Beach, where he also taught adults how to sail them. If his dinhgy experience wasn't enough, he also dabbles in keel boat sailing on J24's and J105's by calling tactics.
It may be John's first summer with us at Fogh Marine but he has lots of experience, and thus, advice on gear and what's best to use. Below is his guest post for The Grab Rail on his staff picks for dinghy sailing gear.
When sailing a dinghy, whether you're an expert or just starting off more often than not you'll end up soaking wet. On top of that, half the time you're freezing cold and the other half you're boiling hot. So if you really want to enjoy yourself and improve, you've got to be comfortable. Before hitting the water or starting a race the only things you really have control of are the condition of your boat and the condition of yourself. Believe it or not, proper clothing plays a huge roll in that.
With that being said I've been asked to suggest what I think is a must have when hitting the water in boats like 420s or Lasers, and you bet that everything I mention below you'll find in my gear bag or in the trunk of my car.
When a costumer comes into Fogh Marine asking where to start for dinghy clothing, first thing I say after a Salus PFD is "always skin tight!" There's nothing worse then being ripped out of the boat because your baggy shirt, or XL spray top that you "thought you would grow into" got snagged on the boom. Nobody wants to buy new equipment every season but going too large can be dangerous; so keep that in mind when trying items on. The Zhik and Gill rash guards are great for a tight yet breathable base layer. They come in a regular spandex version but also come in a Hydrophobic version with a water repellent fleece lining, which is fantastic for May and October sailing.
Next up is hikers. If you speak to any dinghy sailor over 40 they'll tell you about how they just built muscle in "the good old days"... But it was also illegal to use a working boomvang. So, needles to say hiking pants are a must - Just buy them, they help. The Sea Airprene Long John Hikers, for example, are great but there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to fit: make sure they fit tight so the boards don't slip down and that you wear a protective layer over top of the hikers, like the sea spandex pants or shorts, so the hikers don't get chewed up by the non-skid. The hikers aren't cheap so make them last. If you find you run a little hot the Zhik power pads are just as good, but again make sure they're tight.
Your feet are something you can't forget about as well. Everyone likes to go barefoot until they break a toe on the centreboard trunk. Close toed boots, like the Zhik 360 Skiff Boot or the Gill trapeze boots, are a good idea and will also be your best friend in cold weather. Avoid the broken bones and cold feet, just skip the barefoot phase.
That's covers almost all of it really. Make sure you have a spray top or a Zhik AROShelll smock kicking around on rainy days. Remember - whatever the weather is like cover yourself neck to foot, sailors spend a lot of time in the sun and it's important to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Some of the worst burns I've had were on overcast days.
Any questions about some of the gear mentioned or other gear tips from John, just give the store a call at 416 251-0384 or stop by the store!