Wet-Suited for High-Performance Sailing

There are skiff suits, and then there are skiff suits. Gill Marine’s new cold-weather FireCell Skiff Suit and FireCell top are in the latter category, as they’re well beyond basic neoprene kit.

FireCell wetsuit
Gill’s FireCell wetsuit Race Top is loaded with great features, aside from the heat-retaining property of the core panels. The design and materials provide outstanding mobility and warmth.Courtesy Gill Marine

For the past year, Gill’s FireCell wetsuit line has been put through their paces on the SailGP circuit with the U.S. and British teams. I recently got my hands on a set, and every time I examined a different part of the kit, I saw yet another cool innovation. Let’s start with the construction.

The front panel of the skiff suit, running from the neck down to just above the knees, and inside the back of the race top, is Gill’s new “FireCell” material, which is designed to trap warm air in its thermal pockets. It’s constructed of a three-layer sandwich of nylon, foam and liner, and feels like tightly woven fleece on the inside, warm and comfortable. Opposite the FireCell layer—on the back of the skiff suit and the front of the race top—are thermal panels constructed of high-stretch, water-repellent material that dries quickly and provides additional warmth. Both pieces are rated for use in water temps from 39 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

Skiff Suit
The FireCell Skiff Suit, when paired with the Race Top, can extend the sailing season well into the colder months.Courtesy Gill Marine

Other details include glued, taped and blind-stitched seams, pre-bent knees, hems in limb openings that are lined with grippy silicone to prevent them from riding up and, for the guys, a relief opening. Four-way stretch material in the shoulders, sides and arms provides great mobility. The neck opening in the top is made of a soft, stretchy “Glideskin” to prevent chafe and make the top easier to get on and off. Abrasion-resistant panels are on the seat, running well down the back of the upper legs, and on the knees. For dinghy sailors looking to extend their sessions well beyond the warmer months of summer, this kit is your ticket to four-season fun.

Both are available in sizes JL through XXL. FireCell Skiff Suit: $269. FireCell Race Top: $169.

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