I enjoyed the experience so much that I’ve been looking for an alternative to T-shirts for warmwater diving ever since.
O’Neill has an enviable reputation in the field of exposure and sun-protection for the surfing community, and has recently launched a new range of rashguards. It kindly sent me one, and I took it to the Red Sea to find out whether this was the answer.

The Design
The “Fuse Seam” construction used in O’Neill’s latest rashguards uses new “Stitchless Seam Technology”, which is similar to the bonding process used on the seam construction in waterproof outerwear.
O’Neill tells me that its Fuse Seam construction uses ultrasonic welding to bond two overlapping panels of stretch fabric, resulting in a seam that requires no stitches and lies completely flat against the wearer’s skin. It also stretches in every direction.
This technology is used for O’Neill’s Always Summer collection in a performance-fit UV rashguard that’s available in a variety of colour schemes, and both male and female styles.

In Use
I wore the rashie while diving and snorkelling from the Soma Bay resort, where the water temperature was a blistering 30°C close to the shoreline after being warmed by the relentless Egyptian summer sun.
In the immortal words of Simpsons character Ned Flanders: “Hey-neighbour-eeno, feels like I’m wearing nothing at all!”
This hi-tec apparel was as close to being topless under water as I’ve experienced without causing gasps of disbelief and cries of “Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it” from onlookers.
The lay-flat seams, neck and cuffs were so inconspicuous that I couldn’t feel them, and the ultra-stretchy fabric felt soft on my delicate skin. Although the shirt was a tight fit on my tubby torso, it didn’t feel restrictive in any way.
The real advantage of these tight-fitting O’Neill skins is that they dry very quickly and remain odourless after repeated use. They offer a little bit of thermal protection when in the water and total UV protection when out of it or floating at the surface.
They also offer protection from under-water stingers such as jellyfish, stinging hydroids and fire coral while allowing you to feel like Hey-Diddly-Ho Ned.

Conclusion
If you visit the gym every morning before hitting the motorway to get to work, you’ll look a million dollars in one of these.
If, on the other hand, you’re like me and the gym is somewhere that other people go, fear not; the very first thing I learned as a diver is that there’s absolutely no dignity in this sport. I really don’t care what I look like on the outside – it’s how comfortable I feel that’s important.
This long-sleeved rashguard allowed me to dive and snorkel in unrestricted comfort, and for that alone I’ve given it a permanent home in my kit-bag for all warm-climate travels.
I could also wear it under my wetsuit to add layering and to help in donning or doffing clingy wet neoprene.
But you will be relieved to hear that I won’t be wearing it down the pub. Even I couldn’t put my friends through that visual ordeal.

SPECS
PRICE: £35
GENDER: Male and female cuts and styles
SIZES: Men’s, S, M, L, XL. Women’s, XS, S, M, L
CONTACT: www.oneill.com
DIVER GUIDE 9/10

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