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Keeping Team GB afloat

Keeping Team GB afloat

The Kayaking apparel company, Peak UK now offers its Racer ST garment to Olympic teams and professional athletes across the world, following an unprecedented surge in interest after it helped Team GB athlete, Joe Clarke, to win a gold medal in the K1 men’s individual event.

The Racer ST Garment was the brainchild of Peak UK founder, Peter Astles, and it took the former slalom racer and his team of ten nearly four years to perfect the garment. Since launching the product to market following last year’s Olympic Games, the Racer ST has revolutionised kayaking apparel by combining a jacket, life jacket and spraydeck, which are traditionally worn as individual items, into one garment.

This amalgamation has dramatically reduced the thickness of the life jacket by 20-30mm and, with time penalties given to competitors if they hit a slalom pole as they race between them, this reduction provides canoeists with a greater margin of error. In addition to this, the overall weight of the garment is also lighter, resulting in increased speed as they race down the course against the clock.

Commenting on the pioneering product, Pete Astles said: “From the very early stages of the initial idea, we knew we had a completely unique and ground-breaking piece of kit that could provide athletes with the edge over their competitors. With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games coming up, we decided to approach British Canoeing and explore the possibility of supplying the kit for the athletes.”

After being instantly won over by the innovative concept and undeniable benefits, British Canoeing entered a partnership with Peak UK to become the official supplier of the kit at the Olympic Games. Although they had produced prototypes of the garment by hand, it was evident to Peak UK that they needed to invest in textile technology that would allow them to personalise the jacket to reflect Team GB’s branding. It was during this search for a textile printer that Pete first came across Roland DG.

Pete remembered: “We were instantly drawn to the Roland DG Texart RT-640 Dye-Sublimation Transfer Printer because it was more industrial and robust than its competitors and the open design makes it easier to service, clean and maintain. We quickly got to grips with the machine and one year later, we still can’t fault it. It’s truly faultless, effortlessly outputting high quality prints to the extent that we haven’t had one dud.”

One of the athletes from Team GB to wear the Racer ST garment at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games was Joe Clarke, who was competing in the K1 men’s individual. Despite being an outsider, he won the gold medal after beating his closest rival by 0.17 seconds. During the whole competition, Joe didn’t hit one slalom pole and praised his thinner life jacket for providing the marginal gains that made this possible.

Following the Olympics, there was a huge surge in interest for the ST Racer garment from other national canoeing teams and, thanks to the RT-640, Peak UK was able to exploit this new business opportunity.

“The RT-640 enabled us to quickly and easily print the unique and bespoke designs needed for national teams and professional athletes; tackling everything from national emblems to sponsors’ logos, to patriotic colours. It enables you to create any look from scratch. And the best thing is that it offers complete flexibility – we can print one or one hundred garments with the same ease.”

Since last year, Peak UK has partnered with a number of the world’s top canoeists and their respective national teams to supply the ST Racer as part of their kit, including the French, German and Czech teams.

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