| Chicago Tribune reporter
- July 13, 2008
Johnny Depp’s puffy shirts in “Pirates of the Caribbean” are one version of nautical performance wear. Attire for the historic 100th running of the Race to Mackinac next weekend is quite another.
A record number of boats—460—are competing this year in the race, which stretches 333 statute miles from Navy Pier to Mackinac Island, Mich. The crews don’t exactly primp or fuss over their clothing during the world’s longest annual freshwater sailing distance race.
But the course demands a great deal of adaptability from a pair of shorts, shoes and a shirt. Mariners must be dressed for blistering sun, breaking waves, gale-force winds and slippery dashes from stern to bow.
Perhaps not all that different from the demands on other athletes. Or tourists. Or parents.
Besides availing themselves of Patagonia, and other standbys, sailors are abetted by a number of specialty brands, many of which are known only to its subculture, some of which are worthy of broader applications. We’re spilling a few style secrets for your next Kankakee River kayaking adventure, Starved Rock hike or just a stroll along Lake Michigan.
BRAND: Slam, based in Genoa, Italy
KNOWN FOR: Being worthy of Russell Coutts, three-time winner of the America’s Cup.
CROSSOVER APPEAL: Equally adaptable to running or biking, the Evolution Fresh shirt, $75, is a half-zip top made from Silver Aid fabric, with threads covered with pure silver, which has antistatic and antibacterial properties (essential for long passages without long showers). It stays cool in summer and warm in the winter.
ANOTHER MVP: For feet, Slam’s Defender shoes replace laces with elastic fastenings for a closer fit. A rubber anti-slide sole negotiates slippery surfaces. The suede upper is treated with Scotchgard, the felt midsole is water resistant, and an antibacterial insole is removable. Plus, the denim blue (the most popular color) just looks cool. Available in women’s and men’s, $109.95 at www.slam-shops.com
BRAND: San Diego-based Camet (pronounced CAM-et)
KNOWN FOR: Breathable shorts that repel water and still look and smell presentable after three days at sea.
CROSSOVER APPEAL: Perfect for travel, mountain biking or hiking, Camet Agility shorts, $84 (above), boast a Cordura-reinforced seat to withstand abrasive surfaces. Cut loose for ventilation, they feature a two-tone shell with deep side pockets as well as unobtrusive cargo pockets. Velcro waist adjustments keep the shorts from shooting down to the ankles if the wearer dives in the water to cool off (not advisable in the middle of the Mac race).
ANOTHER MVP: Camet’s Hobart Extreme Technical Shorts, $80, add a UV rating of 40-plus, weigh in at a featherweight 9 ounces and offer offset side seams to reduce chafing. See www.pointlomaoutfitting.com/camet.php