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Sailing into a Sustainable Future: Zhik launches industry first high-performance neoprene-free wetsuits

Pushing the boundaries of sustainable innovation, Zhik, a leading Australian sailing apparel company, has unveiled an industry-first high-performance, neoprene-free wetsuit range, setting a new standard for elite eco-friendly water sports apparel.

Zhik CEO, sailing champion and multiple Olympic medallist Mat Belcher OAM

Crafted from sustainable, plant-based Yulex® rubber, Zhik’s ground-breaking wetsuit collection offers superior thermal insulation, comfort, durability, and mobility while generating 80 percent fewer CO2 emissions than conventional neoprene wetsuits.
The fabric is also 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.

In a collaborative effort to push the limits of performance and sustainability, Zhik partnered with Black Foils New Zealand Sail GP Team & Australian Sailing Team who rigorously tested the wetsuits over 18 months.

As the technical clothing supplier to six of the ten Sail GP teams, including New Zealand, Spain, Germany, France, Canada, and the US, Zhik’s commitment to excellence is unrivalled.

“Many of our customers are elite athletes who cannot compromise on performance, but they care deeply about the environmental impact of the gear they use,” said Zhik CEO, sailing champion, and multiple Olympic gold medallist Mat Belcher OAM.

“The challenge was to create a wetsuit that ticked both boxes, and we’ve been able to do that with this new range. Our customers want us to push our industry to be more sustainable.”

Zhik’s innovative spirit can be traced back to its origins in the Sydney garage of Brian Connolly, the founder of Lake Technology, which was later acquired by Dolby and turned into Dolby Australia in 2004. 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.

Alongside the launch of the innovative Yulex® wetsuit range, Zhik has joined forces with Australia’s leading commercial clothing recycling company, Upparel, to give new life to its used wetsuits.

Customers can place their unwanted suits in reZHIKle boxes at over 30 partner stores across Australia, with more distributors signing up daily. Alternatively, they can purchase reZHIKle boxes in various sizes, fill them with their unwanted suits, and collect them contactlessly.

Wetsuits that cannot be recycled or donated are sent to Apparel for shredding, where they are transformed into rubber products like shoes and outdoor playground equipment flooring.

“In keeping with our tradition of innovation, we aim to pioneer new materials, processes, and initiatives that benefit our planet and the people who use our products,” Belcher added.

Recognised for their commitment to sustainability and innovation, Zhik’s cutting-edge wetsuit range has garnered praise from leading sailors and environmentalists alike.

Zhik’s neoprene-free wetsuits represent a significant step forward in pursuing sustainable water sports gear,” said Blair Tuke, co-CEO and Wing Trimmer of the Black Foils, New Zealand SailGP Team.

“By demonstrating that high-performance and sustainability can coexist, Zhik is setting a precedent that could disrupt the sailing wetsuit industry and inspire other manufacturers to adopt better practices.”
To learn more about Zhik’s sustainable initiatives and the revolutionary Yulex® wetsuit range, visit or follow them on social media for behind-the-scenes glimpses and updates.