Sun safe sailing

20th July 2021 Jack O'Rourke

Sun safe sailing

Sailing and sunshine go hand‑in‑hand but there’s no denying that long‑term regular exposure or overexposure is dangerous. The majority of the sailing community know that care needs to be taken, but faced with reflections and hours spent on deck there’s no easy solution. 

It is a necessity to protect yourself from the sun, as your health can be severely affected by sun exposure. With careful management, there is no reason that you can't continue sailing long into the future, but if you are sailing regularly or for long periods of time, you can't afford to be complacent.

Deckee ambassador Lucas Chapman knows the rigours of being out in the sun all day on a yacht all too well, as a competitor in The Ocean Race, as well as Sydney to Hobarts and Transatlantic races. Here are a few of the things he says to keep in mind while sailing.

Slip, slop, slap

First things first, sunscreen should be applied before your feet even hit the deck.

When it comes to sunscreen, do your research and keep an eye on the latest information because some sunscreens are not as good as they claim. Lucas recommends the use of a quality zinc product. "I really like the SurfMud zinc. It’s a real winner," Lucas says.

Avoid the hottest parts of the day

In Australia in particular, it is generally advised that you avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm whenever possible.

It’s really not sustainable to be hanging out on the deck in the middle of the day, so it’s important to manage your activities, filling the middle of the day with boat jobs and things to keep you out of the sun. 

Cover up

Wear SPF‑enhanced protective clothing. "My biggest thing I love in the sun is a long sleeve sun shirt with a hood that covers my neck," recommends Lucas. However, be aware that protective clothing can lose its effectiveness after many washes. There’s a content in the fibre that offers protection that is lost in the wash.  

"Second to that is one of those neck and face gaiters, and gloves can be handy too."

When it comes to hats, choose one with a wide‑brim that can be well secured under your chin.

Hydrate

Perhaps most crucially, take plenty of water with you sailing, and remember to drink regularly to replace fluids you lose through sweat and exertion. "When I am out on the water, my big priority is water," explains Lucas.

When you get to shore, aim to drink one and a half times the fluid you lost while out there. Spread it over two to six hours because you continue to lose fluid through sweating and urination for some time after you have finished your session.

Choose the right boat

If you have the option, when choosing a yacht think about the colour of your deck. Be aware of choosing surfaces that aren't too reflective, and try to avoid traditional white. An alternative is blue-green, which is cool but at the same time not reflective. Even in the interior there can be a lot of reflection.

Cover windows, awnings and sides that roll up wherever possible to stop the sun coming in from all directions, which will also help with wind and rain.

Use all these strategies whenever you are planning a long day out on the water, and your skin will thank you for it in the long-run.