One of the best ways to learn to sail is in a dinghy. Photo: iStock

Sailing-Dinghy-Holiday-UK-Beginner-Laser.jpg

So you are heading out sailing for the day. It’s your first time. What should you wear? The key with wearing the appropriate clothing is checking out the weather on the day and where/how long you are heading out for.

If you are planning on going sailing in a dinghy, you’ll wear very different clothing than say learning to sail a yacht. Mainly because you are far more likely to get wet on a dinghy than a 30-footer.

What Is Sailing? Everything You Need To Know

On a hot sunny day on a calm lake, you’ll be fine wearing ordinary shorts and t-shirt to sail (plus a buoyancy aid and neoprene shoes - see below). If it’s windy, even in the height of summer, you’ll need more than a tee to keep you warm and dry.

It’s important to always bring enough layers to stay warm. It might seem balmy on land, but when those breezes pick up on the sea, you’ll get cold fast.

Here’s a short guide on what to wear when you are learning to sail a dinghy….

WETSUIT

Photo: Helly Hansen

Sailing Holiday Beginner Gear Clothing Helly Hansen Wetsuit

If you are learning to sail in a dinghy and it’s pretty windy, wear a wetsuit. You’re likely to capsize and a wetsuit will keep you warm once you are wet. If you just wear ordinary clothes, as soon as you’re soaked, you’ll feel the cold.

Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water between your skin and the neoprene. Your skin heats the water creating warmth even when wet.

12 Most Insane Sailing Crashes Of All Time

We particularly like Helly Hansen’s new Black Line full wetsuit - it's specifically made for sailors.

Summer sailors might be able to get away with a shortie wetsuit in the UK. Skiff suits - with no arms and long legs - are also great in the summer because they allow a lot more movement in your arms.

WATERPROOF SPRAY TOP

Photo: Musto

Sailing Holiday Beginner Gear Clothing Musto Dinghy Spraytop

Staying warm is key. As soon as you get cold, your mood and sailing ability drops rapidly.

A waterproof and windproof sailing cagoule or spray top is perfect for wearing on top of your wetsuit on cold, wet, windy days or just on top of your regular t-shirt or rash vest to keep the wind off.

Spray tops like this one from Musto are perfect.

SAILING GLOVES

Photo: Gill

Sailing Dinghy Holiday UK Beginner Clothing Gear Gloves Gill

Whether it’s cold or not, it’s often useful to wear sailing gloves, especially if you are thinking of starting racing. When your hands are cold and wet, it becomes even more painful to tug on sheets and keep a strong grip.

Gloves are great for preventing friction burn on your hands as well as keeping them warm and protected. These gloves from Gill are great for grip and dexterity.

SAILING BOOTS

Photo: Triton

Sailing Dinghy Holiday UK Beginner Clothing Gear Neoprene Boots Shoes Triton

Choosing sailing boots depends on where you heading out and what time of year it is. If it a warm week in summer and you are a learning to sail on a calm inland lake, cheap neoprene shoes will do the trick. They are made with grippy soles to stop you slipping on the deck or pontoon.

Beginner Sailing Courses In London: Where Can I Learn To Sail?

If it’s winter or you are chartering a yacht, sailing boots are preferable. These are usually at least ankle high and are made of thicker neoprene and rubber to keep you warmer. They are also more durable than thin neoprene booties.

BUOYANCY AID

Photo: Henri Lloyd

Sailing Dinghy Holiday UK Beginner Clothing Gear Buoyancy Aid Henri Lloyd

A buoyancy aid is essential for any sailor - beginner or Olympic standard, like Ben Ainslie. If you are knocked overboard, it will keep you afloat.

It’s not worth buying a brand new buoyancy aid when you first learn to sail because anywhere you are hiring a boat or taking a course will provide buoyancy aids for you.

10 Best Places In The World For A Sailing Holiday

However, if you know you want to sail regularly, then it might be a good idea to buy your own. New buoyancy aids range from £25 to £70 in price. We like this one from Henri Lloyd. Make sure you attach a whistle to flag up attention in an emergency.

EXTRA ESSENTIALS

Photo: Helly Hansen

Sailing Dinghy Holiday UK Beginner Clothing Gear Helly Hansen

In hot weather, it’s always a good idea to wear a hat, sunglasses and suncream. The sun will reflect off the water, so it’s easier to get sunburnt on the water than on land.

In the cold weather, bring a woolly hat. Some sailors prefer to wear a drysuit in winter. This is an entirely waterproof suit with tight rubber seals around your neck, ankles and wrist. So you can wear ordinary warm fleecy clothes underneath, even if you fall in the water, you’ll stay bone dry.

10 Of The Best Places To Go Sailing In The UK

They are great pieces of kit, but pretty expensive at around £200-300 new, so we wouldn’t recommend buying one unless you know you are definitely going to be sailing regularly in the winter.

Oh, and always bring a spare change of clothes. The number of times we’ve gone out wearing our only set of clothes and had a wet car journey home afterwards….

You Might Also Like:

8 Pieces Of Scuba Diving Gear You Should Own

This Is What Happens When You Light A Firework Under A Frozen Lake…