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 staff nearly four years to perfect the garment. Since launching the product to market after 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 canoeist’s apparel is lighter, resulting in increased speed as they race down the course against the clock.
Speaking about 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 give athletes 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 official supplier of the kit at the Olympic Games. Although they had produced prototypes of the garment by hand, it was evident that Peak UK needed to invest in textile technology that would allow them 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.
“As soon as we partnered with British Canoeing, it was clear that we needed to invest in a textile machine that could deliver the customisation requirements needed for branded garments. 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, with the open design making it easier to service, clean and maintain. We quickly got to grips with the machine and one year later, we still cannot fault it. The machine is truly faultless, effortlessly printing high quality prints to the extent where we haven’t had one bad print.”
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 did not 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 were able to exploit this new business.
“The RT-640 enabled us to quickly and easily print the unique and bespoke designs needed to cater for national teams and professional athletes; from national emblems to sponsors to patriotic colours. You can literally create any look for scratch. And the best thing about the Roland DG machine 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 France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
For more information on all of Roland DG’s products, please visit: www.rolanddg.co.uk
For more information on Peak UK, please visit: www.peakuk.com