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Suit Up and Get Wet

Suit Up and Get Wet

We are blessed to live in a sub-tropical climate that allows watersports all year round. While a bikini or board shorts are usually the go, during these colder months, a wetsuit will make life a little more comfortable.

A well-fitting suit offers the best thermal protection. Wetsuits are designed to let water in, then keep that water in, letting your body heat it up and thus keep you warm. A good fitting wetsuit is key.

A skiing wetsuit differs from dive and surf suits. The skier requires body protection as well as floatation, and the thermal benefits for the cooler days. Where as, dive or surf suits are really only worn to provide thermal protection. So obviously, a diving wetsuit is not good for skiing. An energetic sports wetsuit for surfing, skiing and wakeboarding must be capable of upper body movement. An increased thickness of the neoprene material translates to less flexibility by the user.

Local wetsuit expert, Mark Wemyss, of Rubble Jungle, explains, “Many people are sold wetsuits from retailer stores that in most cases are dead-set having a stab in the dark as to the correct fit required. We see it all the time, a person has been sold a wetsuit that is not even close to fitting correctly, so we charge to refit the brand new wetsuits.” He further says that, if the suit is fitted well, it will perform at its best while the comfort the user experiences will be spot on.

In Australia, all skiers must wear an appropriate lifejacket that fits them and is suitable for their activity and where they operate. The best way to meet the maritime law is to buy a wetsuit with inbuilt floatation. This feature for waterskiing will ensure maximum freedom of movement, and while barefoot skiing the inbuilt floatation will still allow skiers to tumble on the water surface. There are different designs of wetsuits to compete at different disciplines – wakeboarding, slalom, jumps, tricks and barefoot skiing.

Mark recommends 2-3mm thickness of synthetic neoprene rubber material, thicker around torso for warmth, with thinner arms allowing for flexibility. “All neoprene we use is non- petroleum based, double lined, and 100% water-repellent. The best style of stitching for water ski suits is a Mauser tape seam 6-thread, 4-needle, and 2-looper, making it the strongest wetsuit seam on the planet. We design our wetsuits with flush resistant features where the neck, arms and legs have tapered cuffs that bond to the skin preventing cold water entering the suit.”

The original founder of Rubber Jungle, Glenn Mundell, started wetsuit manufacture in New Zealand, the USA, and then here on the Gold Coast. He possessed an extensive water ski background, being a New Zealand Champion many times over, and also skied at Sea World Water Ski Show. Current owner Mark, whose father and family were also water skiers, began working with Glen in the early 1990s. These layers of talent over the years have produced an internationally recognised wetsuit brand.

“Custom designing wet suits is like starting from scratch every day with some of the designs,” relates Mark. “Not all people’s frames and requirements are the same, so we have plenty of challenges working with different body types, and we often have to forecast what size a child may be in the future, as these days we make wetsuits with room to grow.”

The wetsuit design evolution often happens organically, with the Rubber Jungle team always trying different things. Sometimes it works and other times it does not. “It can be real crystal ball stuff,” according to Mark. “Designing new suits often requires trialing the wetsuits on the water, as what may work in theoretical design does not always translate to successful on-water performance. This is mostly evident with the water ski and barefoot wetsuits we produce.”

Investing many labour hours on new designs, they frequently re-hash old templates before adding a modern spin to create something truly unique. “Our designs also evolve with input we receive from the athletes we sponsor. We have a close working relationship with these select athletes, and receive ongoing feedback, which is vital for the products to evolve and remain at the forefront of the industries offerings,” states Mark.

Some of the most innovative designs can be found in the Rubber Jungle range of barefoot wetsuits, and ski race suits. Mark says, “Our business has adapted to changes in the many facets of the manufacturing process. One notable approach is to keep abreast of the latest material options that are continuously being improved by producers around the world. As the customer becomes more aware and technically savvy, there are noticeable changes in the custom design many people are requesting. Often, the customer will provide input into printing and pattern printed designs, to create an individually styled suit that is obviously completely unique to them. In some cases, they will even provide the artwork they wish to use.”

Rubber Jungle export wetsuits all over the word, pretty much to any country or region that has large followings of water sport activities. The US market for waterskiing, in general, has been big for the company in the last few years, stimulated by participation in amateur shows, ski teams tournament ski and barefoot activities. Moreover, with the growing jet ski buying trend, Mark says he is also selling more wetsuits for jet ski riders wanting protection, and enjoying the thermal benefits when in cold water or travelling in a wind chill at 100kph.

Aside from the recreational watersports market, Rubber Jungle also supply wetsuits for commercial or industrial use. Mark reveals, “We are also really happy to again be supplying the Sea World Water Ski Show which was recently reactivated as a tourist attraction. This is a big gig for us, as it’s a themed show with plenty of talent that requires cool costuming, also designed for water-ski stunts.”

Rubber Jungle provide the film industry in Australia and all around the world with flesh coloured neoprene undergarments for feature film, television, and commercials. Anytime the talent being filmed is subject to being wet, that being submersed or shooting under rain machines for example, the actor will be wearing a Rubber Jungle flesh coloured neo suit under their wardrobe. This has become an industry standard to keeping the talent warm and comfortable. With a fast-growing film industry on the Gold Coast over the last 20 years, Rubber Jungle have been the go-to for this service. They have covered every big time lead actor around the world. Another exciting technical service Rubber Jungle have been providing for stunt coordinators, is a wetsuit that is worn for fire burns when they set stunt guys alight.

Another worthy custom service Mark provides, is supplying wetsuits for physically and mentally challenged kids and adults for hydrotherapy. “Often, this involves a simple custom floatation device that aids the carer with the person in the water. Sometimes it’s required for someone that has a physical disadvantage that want to venture back into the water after an accident or ailment.”

The wetsuit industry has evolved and innovated to adjust to the current demands of watersports. The main goal of each wetsuit remains to provide comfort, warmth and maneuverability. For waterskiers, wakeboarders, jet ski riders and others who spend a lot of time on the water, these neoprene outfits are like a second skin. The right fit and the right material will enhance your watersports adventures.


By Andy Kancachian