The snowsports industry quickly picked up on the benefits of self inflating airbags for avalanche survival. Now it appears the surfing industry found the benefit of airbags as well. For those big wave surfers who might find themselves pinned under multiples waves after a wipeout, the new Billabong V1 inflatable wetsuit could be a lifesaver.
The inflatable wetsuit idea came to surfer Shane Dorian after a terrible wipeout at Mavericks, where he nearly drowned from being pinned under multiple waves. Shane turned to Billabong to see if they could create a prototype wetsuit out of his idea.
Working with Mustang Survival Corporation, Billabong integrated a heavy duty, inflatable, polyurethane bladder into the back of one of their full body wetsuits. A large zippered pocket on the back of the wetsuit contains the bladder, which is attached to both an inflator and CO2 cartridge positioned between your shoulder blades.
A pull cord runs over your shoulder to a handle on your upper chest. With a quick tug of the cord, the airbag inflates, bringing you quickly to the surface and crucially keeping you face up.
Similar to avalanche airbags, the inflatable wetsuit is meant to offer an added measure of safety, not take the place of experience, ability and common sense. For this reason, the Billabong V1 inflatable wetsuit will initially only be available to a select group of hand chosen big wave surfers.
Shane would also love to see Billabong create a vest version that could go over an existing wetsuit or be worn by Hawaiian surfers who normally surf in just swimsuits. So stay tuned to see how this nflatable wetsuit innovation might evolve for the wider surfing community.
(via Transworld Surf)