Faster boats demand more dynamic sailing techniques placing different requirements on crews. Energy used up in folding and bending clothing fabric is energy wasted... but you still have to keep out the water
Less is more with Musto’s new LPX Gore-Tex range being launched for spring and summer this year. The company’s ambassadors, its core of professional sailors who are out competing or training on the water most days of the year, emphasised the need for breathable, waterproof and lightweight design in their inshore racing gear. Ergonomic is the watchword, so that’s what Musto’s designers have aimed to deliver for this latest edition of the brand’s popular LPX Gore-Tex range, as Musto’s head of product Chris Holliman explains. ‘We’re seeing a trend towards one-design, technically advanced boats that are lighter and faster than previous generations,’ he says.
‘Those trends are demanding more physicality from the sailors, with a higher emphasis on agility and ease of movement around the boat. The changes to the LPX range have been made with that in mind, using lightweight, breathable, durable waterproof fabrics and carefully designed seaming to enhance a sailor’s freedom of movement.’ Holliman identifies J/70s and Fast 40s as two examples of the modern kind of inshore racer around which the LPX range has been designed, although it should appeal equally to crew of older and still popular classes such as the greatly revived Quarter Tonner fleet.
The LPX range includes a smock, a jacket, shorts and trousers, all of which are constructed from the latest iteration of the ever-developing threelayer Gore-Tex. ‘Probably the thing that immediately strikes you about the new product is how light it is,’ says Holliman. ‘It’s hard to imagine that something so light and flexible can give you all the waterproof protection you need whilst enabling you to run around the boat, working at maximum effort, and not overheating because of Gore-Tex’s breathable properties.’
Below: unlike Mustoʼs ocean racing gear, the ultra-light LPX kit has deliberately small pockets and great efforts have been made to keep the design as simple as possible – but all of the key components like the YKK Aquaguard zippers are the very best available
Musto’s relationship with Gore-Tex goes back to 1994 and the close partnership has helped keep the brand at the forefront of innovation in the marine market. ‘Whenever there’s a new development coming for Gore-Tex, we get it very early in the cycle and are able to apply that quickly to our range of clothing,’ says Holliman. ‘But the other thing we’ve been paying a lot of attention to with our in-house design team is a focus on refining patterns and seams and creating more ergonomic shapes to our clothes that aid full freedom of movement. As a company we’ve also listened very closely to our ambassadors out there on the water, the likes of Sam Davies, Ian Walker and Armel Le Cléac’h for our offshore ranges, the HPX and MPX. But for LPX we’ve worked closely with a wide group of sailors including Pete Cummings and Richard Mason who are across most forms of inshore racing from J/70s up to SailGP, as well as Hannah Diamond who is working towards a two-handed offshore keelboat campaign for the 2024 Olympics in France.
‘For LPX, the message from our ambassadors was very clear: keep the product focused, remove bulk wherever possible and keep every item as simple and as uncluttered as you can. Whereas for an offshore smock, for example, you might want a big front pocket for storing tools for going forward on the bow or up the rig, that’s not needed for shortcourse, fast-paced inshore racing. We’re really pleased with how this range has turned out. It’s lean and functional and looks great, partly due to this philosophy of simplicity.’
The designers worked hard to create a pattern for the smock that would result in a sleek fit, according to Holliman. ‘It’s a flattering fit, with not too much excess material, with quite a racy finish that is already proving very appealing to people that have seen it and tried it on, such as at the Düsseldorf Boat Show. It’s got quite a modern twist to it, in terms of its design and overall aesthetic.’
Laser-cut drainage holes in the pockets are one example of the attention to detail that has gone into this smock, along with the elastic cuffs in place of the more commonly used latex. This removes the need for a second cuff underneath and the elastic should provide sufficient protection the vast majority of situations in inshore sailing whilst being more comfortable than latex. A neoprene hem stops water coming up from the bottom of the smock and its YKK Aquaguard zippers are acknowledged as the best on the market. One visitor to the Düsseldorf stand said the flexibility and waterproofness of the smock would make it perfect for kayaking, a sport that demands even more freedom of upper body movement than sailing.
Across all the LPX products, hyperlon hanging loops make it easy to hang up the garment and drain it as efficiently as possible before you next need it.
Above: the 2024 Olympic keelboat contender Hannah Diamond has provided valuable feedback for the product design team; the new LPX shorts she is wearing here have been redesigned with a higher cut waist.
Below: feedback from Richard Mason has informed the design of the LPX smock, which has articulated sleeves that allow a snug fit with great freedom of movement
The latest developments in three-layer Gore-Tex make the new jacket much lighter than the previous version that it’s replacing, says Holliman. ‘It’s also a very good looking jacket, something that wouldn’t look out of place for skiing or even for just taking a stroll down the high street. So even if you buy it specifically for sailing, you’ll still get a lot of use out of it.’
The cut of the jacket, as well as the smock, has been to create articulated sleeves, which look curved and a little bit strange when hanging on a coat hanger but which immediately make sense when you put it on and feel how it fits. More than ever, Musto has been focused on creating the most ergonomic and comfortable fit possible.
Pocket size on the jacket has been kept to a minimum, in response to feedback from the ambassadors who preferred a more focused fit compared with the demands of long-distance offshore racing where larger pockets for carrying tools remain a priority.
Musto is always asking itself how it can create more flexibility and ease of movement in its garments. In the new salopette, a stretchy panel across the shoulders enables a more comfy and forgiving fit as you move around the boat. Other parts of the salopette are designed for maximum durability, with reinforcements built into the knees and backside that should preserve the garment’s waterproofness for many seasons.
There’s nothing to ruin a photo of a well-sailed keelboat than the unwelcome sighting of builder’s bottom. With that in mind, the LPX shorts have been cut with a higher waist at the back to preserve one’s modesty and to keep the boat looking shipshape and Bristol fashion. A reinforced backside and two good-sized pockets are also an important part of the product.
The new LPX range went public in February and there will be major promotions at Cowes Week and Cork Week during the summer. In a world where people are increasingly put off by needless complexity, Musto anticipates a good reception for the new range where simplicity is the overriding priority. Form and function, delivered with style.
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