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Zhik kits out Australia's Olympic sailors with industry-first high-performance neoprene-free wetsuit

by Zhik 1 May 20:09 UTC
AOC CEO Matt Carroll, Olympians Evie Haseldine and Grae Morris and Zhik CEO Mat Belcher © Zhik

When Australia's 12 Olympic sailors take to the waters of Marseille in July this year, they'll wear the industry's first high-performance, neoprene-free wetsuits created by Sydney sailing apparel company Zhik.

Made from sustainable, plant-based Yulex® rubber, the range sets a new standard for elite eco-friendly water sports apparel with superior thermal insulation, comfort and durability, all while generating 80 percent fewer CO2 emissions than conventional neoprene wetsuits.

The fabric is infused with graphene, an advanced nanoscale 2D material that can return up to 20 percent more body heat, keeping wearers warmer for longer, regulating temperatures during low-intensity activities and aiding the drying process.

This year's Australian Olympic Sailing Team includes defending Olympic Gold Medallist Matt Wearn in the men's Single-Handed Class, 2012 Olympic women's Match Racing Silver Medallist Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine in the women's Skiff. Grae Morris in the new discipline of wind foiling has taken the world stage by storm, finishing second last week at the final major event before the Olympic Games in the iQFoil. Along with the high-performance wetsuits, Zhik will supply all technical on water kit needed to succeed across eight sailing disciplines contested by Australians.

Zhik CEO, sailing champion, and multiple Olympic gold medallist Mat Belcher OAM, said the company was thrilled to be named an official supplier for the Australian Olympic Team for the second Games in a row.

"Zhik was first named an Olympic supplier for the Australian sailing team for the Tokyo Games in 2020. That year, Will Ryan and I won gold wearing Zhik gear," he said.

"Since then, it's evolved even more, and the current range sets a new standard for elite eco-conscious water sports attire."

Sailing events in France will include iQFoil and kiteboarding for the first time in Olympic history.

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said both disciplines require equipment with peak durability.

"Olympians are competing at the highest level and cannot compromise on performance but the AOC is also deeply committed to partnering with suppliers that care about environmental impact," he said.

"Our challenge was to find a kit that ticked both boxes, and we've been able to do that with Zhik. It's a bonus that this innovative gear is cutting edge Australian technology too."

Zhik was created in the Sydney garage of Brian Connolly, the founder of Lake Technology which became Dolby Australia. Connolly, a sailing enthusiast, saw an opportunity to revolutionise the industry's gear and began creating clothing and equipment. He designed solutions for uncomfortable harnesses by adding Velcro entry systems and developing a breathable waterproof fabric four times more waterproof than the market-leading alternatives.

The company now supplies the most successful sailing teams in the world, including six of the ten Sail GP teams, winners of the Volvo Ocean and Sydney to Hobart races, and the Olympic sailing teams of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark.

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