Several months ago The Rough Water Gear Company approached Baltic Safety Products to develop a buoyancy aid for the Surfski market as well as all sea and fresh water paddlers.
Surfski is a rapidly growing ocean based sport in which competitors face challenging conditions. Safety is foremost for the race organisers and the competitors had particular requirements that were not easily met by many existing products in the market.
One of the key elements in the design was to have functional pockets. The back of the jacket has a full length pocket and is suitable for holding a hydration pack. 3 D links on both shoulders mean the hydration tube can neatly be fed to the front of the jacket without being intrusive for the user. To take a drink the wearer simply has to dip their head and drink. The D links are also useful to attach lanyards for a mobile phone waterproof dry bag, hat, sunglasses or safety whistle too.
There is also a large pocket on the front of the buoyancy aid as many Surfski events require competitors to carry flares for emergency use and they need to find somewhere safe and secure to carry them. Mobile phones and VHF radios can also be stored in the generous pocket.
To encourage the buoyancy aid to be worn it had to fit a number of criteria. It needed to be lightweight, cool with open sides to allow air to circulate, be a good fit that would not ride up, and finally have good visibility. A crutch strap prevents the jacket from riding up meaning the user is comfortable at all times. The material used is robust, but smooth so it does not easily snag.
The Surfski buoyancy aid is rated to 65 Newtons and manufactured in Europe to European safety standards. It retails for approximately £48.00 Sterling