Can You Design a Better Life Jacket?


Ever find yourself fiddling interminably with straps and velcro, or tottering around feeling like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters 2? These may be signs that your life jacket is bulky, uncomfortable, inefficient, and irritating. The Boat U.S. Foundation is offering a $5,000 prize to the person who can make a significant improvement in life jacket design – and we think it would be cool if an ASA member or instructor was the winner.

According to BoatUS, “drownings account for 70% or more of all boating fatalities. Of the people who drown, over 80% were not wearing a life jacket.” They’re interested in changing this statistic by making a life jacket that people actually want to wear, and they’ve identified 4 areas in which they hope to see improvement: Wearability, Reliability, Cost, and Innovation.

Now, ASA members and instructors are people who know a thing or two about safety. A very large part of the sailing lifestyle we all enjoy is avoiding accidents. That’s why we learn the rules of the road, practice man-overboard drills, and wear our life jackets when appropriate (even if we don’t like it). So if this is the kind of project you’d like to sink your teeth into, visit the official competition page to find out more.

You can also check out this SailWorld article on the competition.

If you’re interested, make sure to let us know so that we can keep up to date with your efforts!

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