50 Years In The Making

We’ve sailed through decades of expertise in designing and developing sailing gear made to endure the rigors of the marine environment. Along our journey, we’ve celebrated countless milestones. Here, we share some of our most memorable moments.



Nick Gill’s upbringing was steeped in sailing, yet he lacked the appropriate sailing gear to do what he loved year-round.  This ignited a spark of inspiration within him, driving him to embark on a mission to create his own sailing apparel. Believing that the sailing experience could be elevated through enhanced comfort and protection for sailors; and so Gills’ journey began.



Nick Gill started on his entrepreneurial journey with modest beginnings and grand aspirations. He launched the business within a corner of his father’s lace factory. At that time, technical clothing options were scarce, especially for dinghy sailors like Nick. Determined to enhance the available offerings, Nick pioneered the sourcing of new fabrics and the creation of innovative features. Through relentless innovation, Gill swiftly emerged as a formidable contender, challenging the dominance of larger brands in the market.



The business flourished, propelled by a commitment to prioritising the needs of sailors. Its value proposition centered around apparel that prioritised comfort without compromising on performance, ensuring reliability when it counted most. This ethos quickly gained traction, attracting some of the industry’s foremost professionals. Notably, our expertise was recognised when we developed the kit for Lionheart, heralding Britain’s return to the Americas Cup after a 15-year hiatus.



Innovation continued to drive our progress, and by 1982, we introduced an integral brace system into our one-piece dinghy suits. This groundbreaking feature not only reduced pressure on the shoulders but also enhanced manoeuvrability during tacking, offering dinghy sailors unparalleled comfort and agility.



Gill remained dedicated to pushing the boundaries of technical excellence and innovation – a testament to this commitment came in 1989 when Gill introduced the world’s first 2-piece Dinghy Suit. This groundbreaking creation quickly set a new industry standard and rapidly gained popularity, ultimately becoming a bestseller synonymous with the Gill brand.



By 1994, our efforts were gaining significant recognition, culminating in our appointment as the official clothing supplier to Team GBR, the esteemed British Olympic Sailing Team. This partnership marked a pivotal moment in our journey, solidifying our reputation as a trusted and respected provider of high-performance sailing apparel on the international stage.



In 1995, our spirit of innovation reached new heights with the introduction of the revolutionary ‘Speedskin’ for the Atlanta Olympics. Designed specifically for the warm and humid conditions of Atlanta, the Gill Speedskin transformed the traditional neoprene alternative.  It quickly gained popularity and became widely utilised in milder sailing conditions, once again supporting our reputation as pioneers in the industry.



This year we shifted our focus from the Olympics to collaborating with Illbruck, the victors of the 2001 Volvo Ocean Race, to design gear aimed at enhancing their performance. Over the course of two years working closely with Gill, the Illbruck team played a pivotal role in the development of a cutting-edge 3-layer fabric system. This innovative system, which remains a cornerstone of our product range to this day, was conceived with the aim of offering superior protection while minimizing weight.



Innovation remains at the core of our ethos and in 2005 this was evident by our groundbreaking Skiff Trapeze Harness. This revolutionary harness introduced the industry’s first quick-release hook, significantly reducing the risk of entrapment beneath the boat. Moreover, it boasted multipoint adjustment capabilities, ensuring a superior fit and providing crucial back support to minimize the risk of injury once again setting a new standard for safety and comfort in equipment.



In 2006, we proudly introduced our patented Pro Glove. Through rigorous testing, it emerged as three times more durable than any other glove available. Spanning three years our comprehensive glove development program produced the most extensive range of gloves in the sailing market, among these designs was a unique pre-clawed variant specifically engineered to optimise grip on ropes, ensuring that sailors could confidently navigate the seas with ease and assurance.



In response to the evolving needs of dinghy sailors, Gill embarked on a mission to enhance both aerodynamics and comfort. The result was the groundbreaking Compressor Vest, introduced in 2008. This innovative vest boasted ergonomically shaped foam panels encased in neoprene, revolutionising the standard for buoyancy vests. Not only did it meet CE standards, but it also offered significant advantages over its traditional foam predecessor.



Despite the challenges posed by the recession, Gill weathered the storm unscathed. Through unwavering dedication and relentless effort, we successfully expanded our export sales to 75% of our total revenue. This remarkable achievement not only demonstrated our resilience but also underscored our commitment to growth and innovation on the global stage. In recognition of our outstanding performance and contribution to international trade, we were honoured with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.



Gill proudly assumes the role of official clothing sponsor for Emirates Team New Zealand in the Extreme Sailing Series. This partnership signifies a union of excellence, as our innovative sailing apparel met the rigorous demands of this extreme sailing competition – taking tested beyond standards to a whole new level.



Our desire for pushing the boundaries of product innovation led us to venture into the sport fishing market in the USA in 2015. Gill sailing jackets had begun to gain traction among competitive anglers across the states, showcasing the versatility and quality of our products beyond sailing.



In 2019, we proudly earned the title of Technical Clothing Partner of the newest entrants in the sailing scene – Sail GP. We had the honour of outfitting both the GBR and USA Teams, marking a significant milestone in our journey. This partnership also provided an opportunity for us to innovate further, resulting in the development of a new wave of neoprene products that have revolutionised our dinghy collection.



In 2020, Gill celebrated the 20th anniversary of our beloved global bestseller, the OS2 Offshore Jacket. Originally known as the Key West, this jacket was made to offer sailors unparalleled protection on the water while maintaining a stylish appearance off it. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its unwavering performance and timeless design, making it a cornerstone of our product range to this day.



Our commitment to innovation and excellence has been further amplified by our close collaboration with the US Sailing Team. In 2022, we solidified our partnership by becoming their official clothing partner. This strategic alliance aligns with their pursuit of Olympic glory, and our pursuit to test products beyond standards.



Our commitment to product innovation extends to the present day, as we persistently push the boundaries of sustainability in sailing clothing. We have pioneered the creation of the most environmentally friendly sailing apparel on the market, without compromising on performance. Our OS2 Offshore Jacket and OS2 Offshore Salopettes stand as the world’s most sustainable sailing suit, made from 98% recycled materials.