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Surfers warm to new suits

THE revolutionary Radiator wetsuits are continuing to break sales ground, with about 350 surfing outlets nation-wide now selling the product.

The suits are proving popular because of their light weight, which has not affected functionality.

This is principally due to the use of titanium in the suits, allowing the neoprene component to be thinned to just half a millimetre.

Owner of Fremantle’s Sirocco Wetsuits, Bob Lushey, said the Radiator suits had found an enthusiastic market when released three years ago, and acceptance of the product had grown dramatically.

Radiator took off from the beginning,” he said.

“We’ve had phenomenal growth. We’ve gone from zero to 350 outlets in three years.”

The Radiator suits are made by Radiator Limited, with Sirocco holding the Australian rights to sell Radiator products. The light weight, heat-storing wetsuits allow surfers greater flexibility without compromising on warmth.

“The Radiator is a lightweight wetsuit which is a half a millimetre thick. It’s the weight of a rashie but is a wetsuit,” Mr Lushey said.

“It means a surfer has more movement and warmth. A surfer can go down a layer. If they were wearing a 2mm wetsuit they can now surf in board shorts and a Radiator.”

The start of the design process that led to the Radiator came when Japanese company Yamamoto discovered a way to cut neoprene to half a millimetre in thickness. This was great for increasing a surfer’s flexibility while in the water, but could not come at the expense of warmth. To ensure warmth was retained, therefore, the titanium and slipskin layers were incorporated, the former keeping the cold out, while the slipskin and neoprene keep bodyheat in.

Like a rashie, the Radiator is UV resistant, thanks to the hard-wearing nylon jersey on the outer layer. It has a 50-plus UV rating. Underneath the nylon is the titanium coating, which makes a highly efficient barrier to outside cold. The thin layer of neoprene sits under this, which is the key element to keeping the body warm, and finally an inner “slipskin” lining to enhance the body’s reheating effect.

“The cutting of the neoprene to such a thickness was one breakthrough. The second was the slipskin. The third was putting it all together,” Mr Lushey said.

The end product is what the makers say is the biggest thing to hit surfing since the legrope, and its impressive uptake from the surfing community seems to suggest that may be the case.

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