To the ocean-racing sailor—stoic though he may be—rain and spray-wet clothing, cold winds and chill night watches are grumble parts of the game. While foul-weather suits of rubber or of sealed nylon do a yeomanlike job of keeping out the wet, unless they're piled over restricting layers of clothing they don't keep out the cold. And when the weather is hot, these same foul-weather suits become sweatboxes, since they're of nonporous waterproof material.
Some of the crews on this year's Bermuda race tested a new kind of foul-weather gear. The suits, which are in nautical shops for the first time this month, are made of a pale-blue Zelan-treated combed cotton duck, to the skin side of which has been laminated ‚⅛ inch of ScottFoam, a new polyester plastic-foam insulating material.
The bonded fabric was developed by Harry Tenison Deane of the McCampbell Co. and first used in hunting clothes. These proved such a success for duck shooting on icy Long Island that Deane had experimental foul-weather suits made of the same material. The first sailors who tested them during frostbite season on Long Island Sound were so enthusiastic that they are now being manufactured and marketed, under the name Triton, by the Triton Marine Products Company.
New York Yacht Club Commodore George Hinman and the crew of his 41-foot sloop Sagola wore the Triton suits from Newport to Bermuda. Reports Crewmate Richard Makin: "The gear is just as comfortable when it is warm as when it is cold—because it breathes." And Norman Bates, who was watch captain aboard Callooh, says, "They're comfortable enough to sleep in."
Vic Romagna, navigator on Windrose, found that the Triton garments also offer a cushioning protection against bruises when the going is rough. Only drawback: when the sea comes over the bow or the rain comes in sheets, water will go through the fabric, as it will through anything but old-fashioned oilskins. The Triton suits, however, make being wet less uncomfortable since they employ body heat in the same manner as a skin-diver's wet suit. For most sailing and for most sailors, the Triton suits (parka $25, pants $20) could be the foul-weather find of the year.