Quantum key west 2014 was the perfect laboratory to test the latest gear. After a week at the end of Route 1 in all kinds of conditions—from squalls to sunshine, and big breeze to light air—our favorites became obvious.
I’m not one to follow celebrity trends, but when the folks at Hawaii-based Bluesmiths Gear sent us a few samples and told us that Oracle Team USA’s Jimmy Spithill is a loyal customer, I was intrigued. I mean ... who’s cooler than Jimmy? The samples went into my duffel bag for Key West, and the rest of my regular sailing gear didn’t see the light of day. Jimmy’s right on this one.
For chilly morning commutes to the racecourse and nighttime bike rides down Duval Street, the Kula Hoodie ($225) was indispensible. The soft inner face of the Polartec WindPro fabric provides serious warmth, and with its hydrophobic properties, spray just beads up and rolls right off. The trim fit makes it a great mid-layer under foul weather gear, too.
The Kahana Long Sleeve ($90) is not your average tech T. Yes, it offers UV protection, but better still, its “active silver” treatment prevents odor and bacteria—after a week of racing without a single wash, that much I can confirm. It also has a “nanosphere” coating that’s water-resistant and highly durable. As with the Kula Hoodie, water beads up and doesn’t soak into the fabric at all. A discrete zipper pocket in the back is a great place to stash sunblock for easy access.
Rounding out my ensemble were the Spartan Ocean Shorts ($175), designed for stand-up paddleboarding, but with the same nanosphere coating as the Kahana shirt. The high-stretch fabric and no-inseam design makes them perfect for the boat, and for the pool after racing.