Next Generation Life Jackets for the America Cup

With boats sailing faster than ever before, crews running across trampolines and giant winged sails that can (and do) cause a boat to capsize; sailors in the Americas Cup are putting themselves first with updated PFD’s.

The team from Artemis Racing have helped develop what they call the BA2, a modern PFD for the modern Americas Cup. Full of high tech goodies, and some old classics, this technology will likely filter down into the skiffs and high performance dinghys we’re sailing now. Here’s some of the features that you can expect to see.

Knives x 2 – Both a hook knife, and a tactical knife for cutting sheets, halyards or the trampoline. These are stored in quick access pouches on the shoulder and stomach, with tabs the sailor can pull for immediate access.

Spinal Support – built into the PFD is support for a sailors back in a high speed pitchpole or man overboard. Using composite materials, it’s flexible in all the right places, yet provides support where it’s needed.

Impact Mesh – Hitting the water at 30+ knots is like hitting a brick wall. Mesh on the sides of the PFD help absorb some of that impact.

Oxygen Tank – Built into the back support of the PFD, is a little oxygen tank with a regulator and mouth piece. Should a sailor get stuck under the boat, or trapped by the wing sail, they can whip out the mouthpiece and gain several minutes underwater. This gives them time to untangle either themselves, or another crew member.

Floation, High Vis tape and Quick release Zips: All pretty standard for a PFD, with the exception of the zips. One zip down the side of the jacket allows a sailor to take off the whole jacket. Useful if it gets snagged on broken rigging, or in the worst case, a hydrofoil.