Wetsuit versus Drysuit……??!!

For those of us who turned out for the great racing at the Midwinters at Datchet last weekend, we might all be wondering about warm tech clothing.  I guess mostly we were in dry suits, but I noticed fashion guru (!) Charles Apthorp was in some new high tech wetsuit gear.

This all coincides with a very good newsletter received this week from P&B.  I realise that if you read the FF blog, you probably subscribe to the same weekly email from P&B !!  In case you don’t, there was some very good advice in it on wetsuits vs drysuits, which I include below.

(I’m going to reproduce their text here as I couldn’t find the same material online – I would normally post a link that you could click on to read it)

Wetsuit vs Drysuits

pinbax logoWinter sailing can sometimes feel like an ominous task, especially when facing the British weather which can offer up everything from rain, sleet, snow and bitter winds. The customers that come into our shop looking for winter protection often ask, “What is the best kit for winter sailing?” They are then given the choice of one of our many Drysuits or one of the new hi-tech Winter Wetsuits which are now just as popular.

Drysuits do exactly what the name suggests and keep the wearer dry by preventing the water from contacting the body. Neoprene or latex wrist, feet and neck seals, and a hard wearing waterproof breathable outer layer traditionally make up some of our favourite drysiuts. The Gul Code Zero U-zip Drysuit, NEW Gul Code Zero Ladies U-zip Drysuit and the Neilpryde 3D Curve Drysuit are three excellent examples of great drysuits and are perfect for the winter season!

With the advancements in material technology the leading manufacturers have introduced winter wetsuits and steamers which offer increased flexibility and insulation but unlike the drysuit doesn’t keep the wearer completely dry. With the need for speed, manoeuvrability and flexibility around the boat, suits like the Zhik Superwarm Package, Zhik Superwarm Steamer and the Gill Hurakan Steamer are great solutions for winter racing and are often the favourites for trapeze crews and hiking single handers.

To answer the original question there is no real correct answer. It all come downs to personal preference and what the wearer is looking for. P&B sailor, Oli Wells often switches between crewing and helming and therefore switches between his drysuit (for helming) and winter wetsuit (for crewing) depending on the demands within the two roles on the boat. Either way P&B stock all the leading manufacturers for both drysuits and wetsuits so why not come visit one of our shops and get some sound product advice to help make your decision?

Midwinter Championship Results….!!

The path to the 2015 Worlds started at the Midwinters this weekend!!

It was a “bit of a day”, weather-wise, at Datchet for the Midwinters today.  We all drove through snow to arrive at a green and pleasant Datchet Reservoir!  It was even a tad mild (4 degrees or so) versus forecast and the wind, at least at the outset, was not looking like the promised howler. That arrived mid racing !  By the time the fleet made it shore some honking gusts were beginning to pass through.

We had 11 boats at the slip – one had to turn back for family reasons, so then there were 10  braving the conditions.  PRO Phil Tinsley laid on a ‘Sprint’ style series – five windward leeward races  of around 40 minutes each – with thankfully fast turnarounds.

It turned out to be a very close racing at the top – with Charles Apthorp and Alan Green just taking it by one point from Simon Kneller and Dave Lucas.

Special thanks must go to the Rescue Team, the Race Team and of course, the caterers!!

To see the results, click here

Midwinter Championship …..!!

For those of you confused by the current range of wind forecasts, we at Datchet find XC is good for long range while Met Office (forecasting force 3/4 with gusts up to force 6) is better for the near term. Either way, we can be confident the event won’t be a drifter and it will also pass the ‘rule of 10’ test used by one of our teams in the winter – if temperature + wind speed>10 it’s good for sailing!

The short ‘sprint style’ races planned and rapid turnaround between races will also cut out ‘hanging around time

See you tomorrow


The MidWinter Championship is Almost Here…..!!

start youtr season at DatchetJust over a week to the Midwinters – make sure you pack your thermals…

Things are hotting up for the Midwinter Championship and social at Datchet on 31st January. The water is at the brim, we have new changing rooms, a new caterer and new double glazing! Most importantly though, we have some hot names coming to sail and the biggest name of them all coming to join us for an evening talking about sailing. That would include the current European Champion, a former World Champion and a former National Champion – and the recent recipient of the RYA Lifetime Achievement Award, Rod Carr CBE.

In case you missed the earlier announcement, Notice of Race is on the DWSC website with a link on the UKFFA fixtures calendar for what is the first in a series of events to prepare for the season.

As you will see in the NoR, the last start will not be after 3.15pm so we should be getting off the water about 4 o’clock and packed/ changed by 5. Our caterer is cooking a big pot of chilli so people can grab a plate and a drink for the prize giving and the ‘structured chat’ with Rod, with mingling thereafter (timings may vary!).

Any questions email mervynwright@live.co.uk or call 07768 921576

RJON 141219 FF Magazine Photo of Howard JPEG

2014 Midwinters at Datchet …..!!!

The 2014 Midwinters were held at Datchet today, amazingly, in bright bright sunshine!  Wasn’t half blowing though – 20 mph SW plus huge 60mph gusts forecast(!), and about 7 degrees of temperature…  Great formula for a sail!!

Datchet Main Gate below waterDatchet Boatshed cut off by waterThe preceding 24 hours though had contained as much rainfall as any of the worst of our storms this winter. Roads in the area were saturated.  The main gate was only just passable, and the Club boatshed was marooned in its own lake.

Given the conditions, a few would be competitors would have been deterred.  A full report from Helen Hepworth follows.

Datchet Midwinters Championships 1st February 2014.


Written by Helen Hepworth

For all those sailors who have been duvet hugging since coming back from Hong Kong, the Midwinter Championships is a first step to blowing away all the cobwebs ready for the rest of the season.

Despite the heavy wind forecast and the flood at the gates of the reservoir, 8 crews, including 2 visitors, lined up to launch following the race briefing from Datchet Commodore Philip Tinsley.  He proposed to do short windward-leeward courses to give everyone lots of start and first beat practice as well as to try and keep everyone warm!

even crews actually took to the start line with Charles Apthorp and Alan Green in 3957, Patrick Keats and David Culpan in 3821 and Mervyn Wright and Howard Shawyer in 3536 leading the way up the first beat after hitting the pin in 3954 for John Hanson and Helen Selden meant turns had to be done.

However, by the first mark 3954 and made headway into the leading pack, and although 3957 had sprinted away down the run, 3954 were in the hunt having passed both 3821 and 3536.  The first race appeared to finish with 3957 taking the gun, 3954 second followed by 3821 and 3536, however 3954 had failed to round the last spreader mark and so retired from the race.

The second race got turned round very quickly thanks to the PRO and a better start was had by all.  Again 3957 lead the way with 3821 and 3954 hot on their heels.  This order was maintained throughout the race to the end. Unfortunately due to the increasing breeze  only 5 boats finished race 2.

In light of this increasing breeze and after consultation with the 4 boats left on the water, the PRO set up again for race 3.  The first beat, although gusty was manageable, but the gusts on the run down proved quite tricky with the kite up.  3957 was the first to be caught out resulting in 3954 taking the decision initially to only motor down under 2 sails.  However, seeing 3821 managing the kite, 3954 duly hoisted to be hit by more large gusts.  3957 had recovered by this point and the order at the leeward mark was 3957, 3821, 3954 then 3536.  The gusts were still increasing at this point (45 mph was recorded at Heathrow) and were wreaking havoc – 3954’s tiller extension broke on the run down taking them out of the race and so the final race ended with a third and decisive win for 3957 therefore taking the overall honours, with a third second place for 3821 and another third place for 3536, despite Mervyn Wright losing a tooth somewhere along the way!

Discussions at the prize giving focused around how much fun the event had been.  The visitors and several more teams now move on to compete in the Datchet Winter Warm up event Through March.  We’re expecting Simon Kneller, Dave Lucas, Graham and Ben Scroggie and Richard Lovering/ Matt Alvarado to join in shortly to take advantage and all others are welcome to cons and tune up before the Mercedes Open on 8th/ 9th March They will be joined by many more crews for the Datchet Open Meeting at on the 8th -9th March, see you all there.

Click here to see the full results.

Midwinters Go “Sprint Format”…!! 11 Teams Committed So Far….!!

Datchet is gearing up for the Midwinter Championship next weekend. The fleet captain, Mervyn Wright, said, “We have 11 boats committed so far and we are hoping for at least 15.”

Racing is planned to start at 1130, with a briefing in the wet bar at 1030.  To keep turnaround tight, they plan to use a 3-2-1 start sequence and breeze permitting, try and get 4-6 races in. There will be one discard.  They’ll try and get back ashore by 4.30 so there’ll be plenty of light to de-rig.

There is a low cost package to encourage you to stay through the Sundays of February for the Winter Warm Up and including the Open Meeting for the Mercedes Trophy on March 8-9.

Datchet Commodore, Phil Tinsley, will be PRO.  Here Phil gives you an outline of the event:-

Something to Look Forward to Over the Winter….!!

The really observant amongst you will have noticed that this weekend just passed is the same number of days from the Winter Solstice as the Midwinter Championship which will be held at Datchet on Saturday 1stFebruary.  So when it’s dark and cold in the depths of winter, remember what a beautiful day it has been for sailing so that you can look forward to reliving it in February.

A formal NoR will be issued in due course, but for those who can’t wait:  We will be having a one-day event, adopting the sprint format that Draycote has used so successfully, starting at 11.30 (if Grafham can do it, we can!) to get in as many races as possible while allowing you to de-rig in daylight!  However, we would really like you to stay longer – as in previous years, the Datchet Winter Warm-Up series will run through February (starting on Sunday 2nd) and Datchet will host the first Flying Fifteen Open Meeting of the year (the Mercedes Trophy) on Saturday/ Sunday 8-9th March – the weekend after the Dinghy Show.

So when you unpack your boat from the Hong Kong crate, or put it away for the last time before Christmas, don’t forget to set the alarm for the end of January so you don’t miss out.

Mervyn Wright

Fleet Captain, Datchet


2014 Championship Events Calendar Update…..!!

We now have the date for the Scottish Championships so the “2014 Championship Event Dates” blog from October 6th has been updated.  Click here to see the revised version.

The BIFFA Fixtures list is being updated accordingly.

We also now have the NOR for the 2014 Europeans – click here to download it.

There is a page dedicated to to the Mallorca Europeans on the Spanish website.  Click here to see it.

New Format for the 2014 Midwinters….!!

The Midwinter Championships have been going a few years now, through mild warmth and snow !!  Datchet are going to try a tweak to the format for 2014….

The Club are going to a Saturday one day sprint format, and make it the same weekend as the four week “winter warm up” event commences (the Warm Up races all the Sundays in February).

So it’s Saturday 1st February 2014 for the Mid Winter Champs and the Accenture Trophy (sprint style, one day only) and Saturday/ Sunday 8-9th March 2014 for the Mercedes Open.

Mid Winter Championship – NOR and SI’s……

The NOR and SI’s for the Mid Winter Championship on January 26/27th at Datchet are now downloadable from the “Interesting Links” column to the right of this page.

For those wanting to Winter their boats with the Datchet Fleet there are deals available to cover the Midwinters, the four Winter Warm Up Events on the Sundays of February, and the Mercedes FF Open Meeting in March. Why not come along and stay over??!!