Sailing Gear & Buying Tips

Below is a list of essential gear used by our sailors. Please note that because you are registered with SAISA (or soon will be if you decide to join the team), you are entitled to a 15% discount from Annapolis Performance Sailing. Of course, you are free to purchase gear from any vendor you choose.


Essential Gear


  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD): You will need a sailing life jacket/PFD. It is important to get one that is labelled, US Coast Guard Approved Type III. Kayaking PFDs sold at outdoor sports centers like REI will work. Sailing PFDs have big arm holes to allow for a lot of movement. It should be tight enough that it will stay on should you go overboard. If your hands are raised above your head, it should not not slip off. Don't be shy about asking to try on another sailor's PFDs at practice so that you find the size right.

  • Sailing Boots: You need a good pair of sailing boots. APS has good options for boots, and you will see sailors wearing similar boots at practice and regattas. Feel free to shop around for other options; ideally try these on as sizes may vary by brand.

  • Sailing Gloves: You can buy sailing gloves at West Marine or order them online at APS. Sticky Race Gloves by Ronstan is another popular option to the Gill gloves.

  • Dinghy Smock & Trousers: Spray tops or dinghy smocks are foul weather gear and used when sailing in cold weather. Note that you don't want too much of a zipper on the dinghy smock; the goal is to keep water away from your skin and you'll stay more dry without a zipper. Most sailors wear also wear trousers/salopettes which are like bibbed overalls. A lot of our sailors wear Gill brand gear similar to Pro Dinghy by Gill.

  • Tech Shirts or Base Layers: As the weather starts to get colder, the coaches will say, "no more cotton." You may have tech clothing already - basically wear base layers that are made of something that will dry more quickly than cotton.

  • Wool or Polar Fleece Hat: You will want to keep your head warm when sailing in cold tempatures—avoid cotton. Wear a wool or polar fleece hat.

Safety Items – good to have

  • Whistle: Useful if you are lost on the water (not too likely where we sail, but cheap to buy so why not?)

  • Sailing Knife: Useful for cutting yourself free, should you get tangled in line underwater.

Nice to Have – not mandatory

  • Waterproof Watch: Used for marking time at the start of a race.

  • Wet Suit: Some kids rent wet suits others own them. Depending on water/air tempatures, the race committee reserves the right to require wet suits for racing in certain conditions.


Buying Tips – advise from our parents



  • APS has excellent customer sales representatives who can advise you on sizes. They know what gear runs large, what runs small, and are great at offering recommendations as to the right brands/sizes for your needs.


  • Some additional advice about making sailing gear affordable: APS has pretty good pricing in general, but with a little time invested you can save a lot of money.


  • Whitecaps Sailing Apparel has some good deals. There are a lot of online sailing gear companies, so shop around and look in the closeouts. They will often have limited quantities of last years model at 50% off.


  • You get what you pay for with waterproof clothing. Coated fabrics don't last as long as a waterproof fabric like Gore-tex. Gore-tex went off patent a few years ago, so manufacturers have their own proprietary fabric. With Gill they have a dot system with 2 dot being a coated fabric up to 5 dot which has multiple layers of waterproof fabric.


  • This will probably sound crazy to everyone, but the big time dinghy sailors are now wearing those gardening gloves with the rubberized palm and polyester/cotton backs and fingers. Go to Northern Tool and you can get a pack of them cheap. They don't last too long, but at $1 a pair they are hard to beat and they have great grip. Real sailing gloves are good when you are doing high load stuff on big boats, but for our purposes these work fine. When it gets really cold, put on some sort of fleece glove with those ugly yellow dishwashing gloves and tape the top to your spray top. Not elegant but your hands will be warm and dry - two very important things.


  • Dick's sporting goods has a decent life jacket for $60.


  • Get some polarized sunglasses. Don't go out and buy Mauri Jim's or anything terribly expensive as there is a good chance you will lose them if you go in the water.


  • If you are pretty sure you have quit growing and are going to sail in the winter, I would recommend buying a wet suit, you can get one for under $100 at local dive shops, and if you keep your eyes open, you can usually get one pretty cheap off Craig's list. Get a fairly thin wetsuit as you will still need to be able to move freely.


  • For summertime sailing, I really like my Keens, but any type of closed toe water shoe will work. Boots are great but they are hot when it is warm.