It wasn’t the best of legs for Team AkzoNobel. Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race was a 6,500-mile sleigh ride through the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to Melbourne. Things went wrong for the Dutch crew when they mistimed a gybe in strong winds and big rolling seas. Laying the boat on its side out of the gybe led to damage to the mainsail battens and the mast track and forced the crew to make running repairs while trying to maintain as much speed as they could.
It’s at times like these that you want everything working in your favour, which is why Team AkzoNobel – as well as Dongfeng Race Team, who finished second on this leg – opted for Zhik as their technical apparel partner. Recently voted Best in Class by Yachting Monthly magazine in the UK and Dutch sailing magazine Waterkampioen, Zhik’s ZK Seaboots don’t look like anything else on the market. In fact, Zhik’s design team started with a blank slate to come up with something that looks and performs quite differently in several key respects.
After reviewing the evolving requirements of the modern offshore sailor, Zhik set about developing a new boot type, using a combination of sealed neoprene and soft rubber construction, with glued and blind-stitched seams plus additional seam tape reinforcement to provide 100 per cent waterproof protection from the elements. Drue Kerr, Zhik production manager and senior designer, was lead designer on the ZK SeaBoots project. ‘Based on our research and conversations with experienced offshore sailors, our seaboots value dryness over breathability.
‘Breathable boots tend to suffer from a well-known issue… they leak easily and trap water between the membranes. In fact, they can they stay wet and heavy for an “unpleasantly” long time. This then limits the thermal insulation they can provide when wet. So we went down the route of achieving dryness above all else.’ Read on.
Thanks to the historic Peterson One Ton Gumboots for the title inspiration. That and the boots…