dingy sailing B&W image

It’s all moved on a bit since Sowesters and rubber wellies!

One thing we sometimes say at Solent Events is “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!” As you can imagine, running any kind of outdoor event in the UK means that you have to be prepared for a little bit of precipitation from above or indeed in our business, the odd splash of salty stuff from below! 

Like any sport, having the right equipment is key to good performance and dry, warm guests tend to want to come back again which is why we always supply breathable wet weather gear on our yacht and RIB charter events. 

Sailing clothing has come a long way in the last 50 years and is as much about the science as it is the fashion with many brands competing for sales in a market worth multi-millions each year.

Musto are globally recognised as one of the leading brands in this sector ‘other brands are available!’ We have chosen this brand to illustrate how things have moved on over the years following last month’s release of Musto’s 2016 sailing collection. The collection features new ocean gear, updated lightweight offshore options and even a jacket named after our very favourite stretch of water; The Solent! Browsing through the credentials of the new kit and its high tech modern features got us thinking about how far sailing gear has come over recent history – much like mobile phones it’s hard to believe how we got by without Gore Tex and Cordura, so we’ve written our own little roundup of how Musto have changed the world of sailing clothing since the beginning in 1964…


1964 – The Tokyo Olympics

The thought of today’s Olympians taking to the water in knitwear and tailored trousers is pretty bizarre and not likely something we will be witnessing in Rio this August. In 1964 however, the year in which Keith Musto competed in the Tokyo Olympics, this was the usual get up. Keith is quoted as saying “We sailed in Guernsey sweaters and old flannel trousers for years. You got wet and you accepted it.” Brrrrr..sounds chilly to us!


1965 & the 70s – The Birth of The 3 Layer System

In response to the lack of adequate sailing clothing on the market, Keith Musto founded the Musto brand and production began in 1965. Fast forward to the seventies and after much experimentation, the 3 layer system was born. The concept comprised of a thermal/active base layer, an insulating mid layer and waterproof outer layer is used to this day worldwide and for many different outdoor pursuits beyond sailing.


1980s – Things get Snuggly!

Mostly the eighties was a pretty bad time clothing-wise, however some good did come of this era in the fashion industry (hint: it wasn’t shoulder pads or leg warmers) when Keith Musto introduced fleece from America to the UK market in the form of the iconic Snug Blouson Jacket. This versatile ‘old faithful’ is still very popular with sailors and remains in the companies range with colours updated to reflect the tastes of the moment.

1990-1992 – Saving Lives and Looking Cool

A series of mortalities in the Whitbread Round the World Race (now the Volvo Ocean Race) spurred the development of the Musto drysuit; designed with the intention of prolonging chances of saving a man overboard in extreme conditions. Cold water shock and hypothermia are the biggest killers of offshore sailors and these suits were manufactured with waterproof zip systems and tight rubber neck and cuff seals to keep all the water out. The final product drastically increased survival times in cold water from less than 15 minutes to over 2 hours!

1994 – The Advent of Breathable Sportswear 

A milestone noteworthy because this was the year Musto teamed up with Gore to create Gore Tex Pro; a pioneering fabric now instrumental in so much of our favourite outdoor gear. Never before had it been possible to create a fabric as effective at keeping out the water and the wind whilst remaining incredibly breathable and durable. The days of wearing clammy oilskins has come to an end thank the lord!


2015 – Things get Dynamic

One of our favourite recent developments in the Musto world of late was the launch of the LPX Dynamic Stretch collection. Designed for seriously fast paced yacht racing, this kit is super lightweight, super breathable stretch Gore Tex and worn by the multi-record-breaking trimaran crew on Phaedo3. And if these guys wear it then it’s got to be cool!

2016 – How Far We’ve Come

With new launches from Musto come high expectations from the yachting fraternity and frankly, childlike giddiness for the Gore Tex nerds in Solent Events HQ (John, we’re looking at you!). We are very pleased to say the collection does not disappoint!


To ensure ultimate performance of the gear needed for the most extreme sailing conditions, the design team worked with the crews that tested their gear rigorously as part of the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race. As a result the HPX Ocean Smock is bigger, better (& brighter) than ever. New features include Pro-Vision windows in the hood for improved peripheral vision, fewer seams to reduce bulk and those little details we love like a Cordura lined pocket making it more suitable for storing tools without chafage!


If you’re not planning on heading into the Southern Ocean, The BR2 and MPX ranges have also had an update with the ranges expanded to include ‘Race Lite’ versions, stripped back to make them lighter and more suitable for inshore racing (and we can definitely see the all new Solent jacket being used on our Ribs this summer to keep the spray at bay!).

We look forward to working with Musto who are signed up as the official clothing supplier to Cowes Week for the next 5 years. Their in house custom branding department are superb at personalising virtually their entire range of products with our clients own branding whilst not impairing the performance of the clothing.

Our thanks go out to Musto for supplying images from their archive.