By Sam Brearey
As a traditional trapeze crew, changing from the fireball to the Merlin Rocket (a out and out hiking boat) was quite a shock! While the Merlin is hugely designed to be modified and controls constantly adjusted, there is no escaping the need and importance of good old fashion hiking! Even the advancement of the single string raking system (where you can change rake and tensions with a single rope pull), was not enough to make hiking null and void.
It was a difficult road for me to go from a perching crew to a dynamic hiking crew. The abuse from friends and family from the pictures certainly helped, but the hiking options available from Gul were, and are, certainly the biggest game changer.
For the 2018 National Championships, my main hiking support were the windward pads under a long john. The versatility of being able to remove the pads was really useful on the water when conditions were variable. With the compression sleeves giving the legs a much important (and needed) boost. The certainly helped give us an edge upwind on the windy days.
As the 2019 season rolled in, I was wondering what magic Gul might come up with next. After taking some time off the water, I was told I “must try” the new Code Zero HikeJohn with pads built in. I immediately ordered some and got to test them for the first time during Storm Graham! I was absolutely blown away by how comfy they were and how much easier they made hiking! The ability to be able to lock into a position as a crew, working the boat through the toes and shoulders is really important for upwind boat speed. The 3mm hikejohn from Gul aids that process so much! Making hiking comfy is almost magic!! The quote I heard previously was “they are brilliant, they basically hike themselves”, I am very pleased to say, I completely agree!!
They have quickly become the number 1 choice for me as a crew and will be a key part no doubt of our attempt to defend the national title this year, in the most competitive national class fleet on the water.
In addition to the amazing levels of comfort they provide, they are also hugely well designed on many levels. The seams are smooth, strong but provide the flexibility needed. The thermal properties mean that you never get cold, even during long days on the water. With the impact protection offers more of a barrier than us merlin crews are used while being thrown around the front of the boat, meaning even bruises are less common!
All in all the 3mm Code Zero HikeJohn from Gul is a MUST HAVE in the kit bag for any hiking sailors this season and all other seasons coming!