is approved. But under the conditions in
which it would normally be used, a supervised inshore racecourse with other boats
nearby, it’s most likely more than adequate
to keep the boater afloat, and is far better
than wearing no jacket at all.
While the current U.S. life jacket
standards are very comprehensive and
thorough, and provide boaters with very
capable life jackets, they allow little room
for innovation — in large part due to the
expensive and lengthy approval process,
and performance standards that are geared
to cover virtually every extreme marine situ-
ation. A simplified approval process doesn’t
need to lower the standards, but reducing
the complexity and cost of approval could
go a long way toward increasing innovation
in life jacket design.
approved life jackets be carried on the
boat to meet legal requirements. So while
you can buy and wear a non-approved life
jacket onboard to reduce your risk, it won’t
count as a life jacket if you’re stopped
by the Coast Guard or other boating law
Currently in the United States, there
are several groups, including the BoatU.S.
Foundation, pushing to have U.S. standards become more accepting of less traditional designs,
those made for
Joe Waters of
“We all have
the mindset of
what a life jacket
looks like, and
that’s what we need to be challenging. We
haven’t seen that much outside-the-box
Back in 2005, finding new and inno-
vative designs for life jackets was a key
goal of the joint BoatU.S. Foundation and
Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers
Association (PFDMA) Life Jacket Design
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