The journey from glove envy to proud producer has been a long one. Without the right contacts in the glove manufacturing world we have worked hard in the past to produce a fit for purpose glove with a price tag to match.
Despite selling lots of gloves in the past we have been working with new suppliers annually in the hope that we could improve quality, durability and workmanship. Sometimes we have made great strides forwards but a couple of years ago we had to write off a whole shipment of gloves that we just could not sell to the discerning sailing public as the producer found a way to save money by swapping the rubber based grippy we had agreed at sampling for a plastic cheaper look alike! It hurt, but we just had to cut them up and put them in landfill. The resultant letters to chamber of commerce in the local area might have felt like a protest that would fall on deft ears, but it brought some excellent luck. We were visited by one of the highest quality glove manufactures in Pakistan. We have been working with them for 10 months now producing samples. It did not take long to produce our final design which we have been testing in the front end and back end of the Merlin for the last 8 months, putting them through some of the toughest tests with spinaker halyards and twin pole spiros for the crew and mainsheet trimming for the helm. We quickly settled on a grippy that was both supple and durable - and guess what - yes it was the most expensive and had to be made and shipped from Japan. We opted to make a two finger cut version we called Pro Race 2
, a 5 finger cut version we called Pro Race 5
and a full neoprene version.
The problem was trying to stop my wife from hording all of them in her kit bag as she loved them! So when it was winter conditions in April - I was left with the 2 finger cut versions to wear and bear the cold while she wore the neoprene versions! When it warmed up a little more to make the 2 finger versions great to wear - they misteriously fell into her kit bag, leaving me with the 5 finger samples to test. So the 2 finger samples have now done quite a season in the front and back of the boat. Despite being salt encrusted, worn, washed, dried and worn again, they still feel suprisingly comfortable with their built in claw grip. The fastening around the wrist is ideally placed to avoid collision with your watch strap, but is also made safe with its extra safety tab.
The lengths of the cut off fingers are still long enough to stop the rope from blistering the tops of your open fingers (thanks to Sarah's continued insistance on longer protection here as she has long fingers). The Armara is reported to be 5000 rubbings quality which is 3000 more than most gloves are made from - and they cerainly look firm and healthy despite their long test and trial to date. The choice of the finger patch shaping was a long deliberation, but we finally opted for the D shape with X cuts for more supple fingers as they were the ones we fought over the most.
See for yourself how well they have lasted over this season.
The best part of the story is when opening the final consignment it was no suprise to see that every glove was like a sample pair. The workmanship and glove engineering was simply stunning. We are certianly proud of our new gloves. During the process we were continually suprised by the grip offered by the armara samples, we found them to be ideal for mainsheet trimming where releasing the sheet was as imporant as pulling in. From this testing we developed a series of gloves we have now called the Tacktile Glove
. These are simply eye catching in white armara using the same super durable 5000 rubbings armara from our earlier sampling. They feel super soft and flexible so we hope you like them too.