Our favourite Gill sailing memories


Many of us within the Gill team know the feeling of the open water all too well, it’s why we love what we do here. Knowing that our gear provides people with the opportunity to experience that thrill for themselves brings about a high level of satisfaction on our part.

Going over what have achieved and been a part of in the sailing industry is always something we love to celebrate! Take a look through some of the sailing-related highlights from the Gill team over the past 45 years.

Our sailing beginnings…

Nick Gill founded the Gill brand 46 years ago. As a passionate young dinghy sailor, Nick found himself frustrated by the lack of specialist clothing for dinghy sailing.

To combat this, and to give something back to the sport he loved, he formed the brand that almost half a century later remains a leader in the industry.

My first memories of sailing were being taken down to Trent Valley Sailing Club from a very early age,” says Nick. “It would be every weekend and it was not considered optional. Initially I would be left on the river bank, but would pester my parents mercilessly to let me in a race. They eventually relented on one of those hot summer afternoons that was very still, but ended in a thunderstorm. Needless to say I ended up in the water, but aged 5 thought it was fantastic fun and have never looked back since.

Having grown into a strong sailor in his own right, Nick got to work on creating products dedicated to sailing enthusiasts in the back of his father’s factory in Nottingham. It was from these humble beginnings that the Gill’s sailing journey would begin.

Lionheart, 1980 Americas Cup
The Lionheart team at the 1980 Americas cup wearing Gill clothing

By the 1980s, we had firmly established ourselves as a leading creator of quality clothing for the sailing industry. This led to the huge honour of being asked to develop kit for Lionheart, the UK’s first team to enter sailing’s prestigious Americas Cup in 15 years.

This was a fantastic opportunity for everybody who worked with Gill at this time, and is a really proud sailing moment in our history. It was a breakthrough for us into the world of highly competitive sailing, and is something we have thrived on ever since.

Skipper and former Olympic yachtsman Sir John Oakley recognised the innovative Gill products at the London Boat Show and asked Gill to bespoke design and manufacture a range of ground breaking garments,” says Nick Gill. “Stretch materials giving tight fitting garments that reduced windage. Sleeves and legs zipped tight. Arms detached for downwind performance. In 1981 this type of technology was unheard of.”

Olympic Involvement

A British sailing boat out on the water at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics

Any sports fan tends to look forward to an Olympic Games with excitement. But to have a small role in their participation is a huge honour. This came to our team in the build up to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, US, and again four years later.

Our team worked to develop ‘Speedskin’ ahead of Atlanta ‘96. This sailing suit was specifically designed for milder conditions, such as those in which that year’s sailing Olympians would be participating. “The product transformed the traditional neoprene wetsuit and was widely used in milder sailing condition,” says Nick.

We got another taste of Olympic preparation four years later as we were appointed technical clothing supplier to Team GBR, the British Olympic Sailing Team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Gill gear at major races in the 2000’s

The Illbruck team on board in difficult weather wearing Gill apparel

The major events on the sailing calendar are things we at Gill always look forward to. Over the course of the first decade of the 21st century, we were involved in a number of projects to support the planet’s leading sailors in their quest for victory.

In 2001, we were the clothing supplier for Illbruck, the winner of the Volvo Ocean Race. “The Volvo Ocean Race is the ultimate challenge for the boat, the crew and its technical clothing,” says Nick. “Illbruck worked with Gill for two years to develop a 3-layer clothing system and the principal that less can be better for performance to reduce weight and improve breathability and comfort.”

In 2008, we were getting a taste of the Olympics again as we were selected as official supplier to Australian Sailing at the Beijing Olympics, while in 2010 Gill was confirmed as Technical Clothing Partner to Emirates Team New Zealand. 2010 also saw us chosen as the technical clothing supplier to Cowes Week, the world’s most prestigious sailing regatta.

Into the modern age

Wet conditions out on the open waters being faced by Louis Burton on the Vendee Globe 2020 – 2021.

We have had plenty to celebrate in recent years too, as we look to build on our considerable legacy and cater for elite sailors and our customer base alike.

We worked with Vendée Globe participants Louis Burton in 2012, 2016 and 2020 and Conrad Colman in 2016, to help support their attempts to win this phenomenal round the world sailing event. In 2021, Louis Burton recorded an incredible third placed finish – all while wearing Gill sailing apparel.

We have also been the chosen apparel supplier for the SailGP GBR team, and in previous years for SailGP USA too. It really is a privilege to see our items being worn by such high-profile sailors. It reaffirms the quality of our product range and gives our team the knowledge that their research and development, manufacturing and delivery of items is top level.

Building the Gill legacy

While it is satisfying to be involved with these major events, we get just as much pleasure from providing new sailors with the apparel and equipment they need to start enjoying their new activity.

For more of our many highlights over the years, take a look through our timeline page. And don’t forget to browse through our range of excellent sailing apparel. You can choose by activity if you are devoted to one discipline, or by clothing item if you have something specific in mind. We also have a great range of sailing accessories to choose from. If you have questions for our team, simply get in touch.

We hope there will be many more highlights for Gill over the next 40 years. It’s a thrilling journey to be on.