The debate about PFDs

6 years 11 months ago - 6 years 11 months ago #23396 by Hiro
Replied by Hiro on topic The debate about PFDs
What's his name ? Is he aware that, as an Elite paddler, he's an example to many ? People can be so dumb, it never cease to amaze me.
Let's say we let him paddle without a pfd. Let's say he has a problem durring a race. Let's say he dies. What do you think his widow will do ? What do you think his parents will do ? (Hint : I think someone's going to pay for that)
Why would we even listen to him ? He doesn't want to respect the rules, he doesn't race !

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6 years 11 months ago #23397 by jagter
Replied by jagter on topic The debate about PFDs
I've often wondered if PFDs are really useful, or just something to give paddlers and race organizers a warm fuzzy feeling.

In the open ocean there is no doubt that it's useful so for races and ocean paddles I'm all for it, but in the surf I'm not so sure.

Twice I've had to get out of my PFD in the surf zone as it just keeps your head in the white water, making it very hard to dive under waves. Also makes it very slow to swim out of currents.

The argument that it will help you in the surf if the boat knocks you out is only valid for a life-jacket. The average PFD won't keep your head out of the water if you are unconscious.

Saying that, I always wear mine. Mostly to have a place to keep my hydration bladder, phone and snacks.

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6 years 11 months ago #23398 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic The debate about PFDs
Most paddlers who race or spend a lot of time in the water have made their loved one aware that Surfski paddling in the middle of the ocean isn't as safe a sport as ping-pong.

Nonetheless, I agree that race promoters shouldn't be held responsible, not while I race, and not even while I travel to my race. Those are different issues though.

The real issue is:
You want to be safe, and for this, you have opted for a PFD because you claim that PFD save lives.

The fact is: wearing a helmet while driving save lives too. We have made seat belts mandatory in most countries, why not make helmets mandatory as well while driving a car ?

Based on what you are saying, let's take it one step further: helmets could save lives too, and are certainly not going to kill you… so why not make helmets mandatory for surfskis ???

If you make PFDs mandatory for safety, you also have to include MORE safety.
I can (soon) see a paddler on an outrigger wearing a helmet.

And my biggest problem:
If you really want safety, it's not a PFD that you need for the unconscious paddler. It's a real life vest (not 50 or 60 kN, but 110 to 150 kN). In the name of safety, you should then have a life vest that will be very bulky, that will always keep your head out of the water, and a helmet… yet, there still will be a danger out there, because there always will be one.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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6 years 11 months ago #23399 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic The debate about PFDs
Names are not important. He reports that he has the support of a number of paddlers that matter so he's voicing a group sentiment.

I think lifesavers are probably the originators of our sport in general through their competitions and commitment to dealing with the ocean no matter what the conditions. Lifesavers are some of the most awsome athletes and beings that walk the planet.

With the growth of ski popularity the base support moved away from proficient lifesavers to the keen water sport lifestyle enthusiast. Races developed into long distance open water events and downwinds in bigger and bigger conditions were run.

With numerous incidents safety became a concern. PFD's were inevitable. Now we have a sport where lifsavers may feel they now have to dance to the tune of "outsiders" in a sport which they once owned. This I think is at the root of the debate.
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6 years 11 months ago #23402 by paddler4christ
Replied by paddler4christ on topic The debate about PFDs
just a thought but I am one of the nutcases that did the 2013 PE to EL in the monster surf, and I used to be one of the guys who didn't like the PFD's but on that particular race it was the first time in my life that I've been happy to have mine.

I think the more experienced and elite paddlers (Lifesaving Backround or not) owe it to the newer guys to set the example, this isnt about the individual but about the group, it's time we stopped being selfish.

Just wear things and get used to it.

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6 years 11 months ago #23406 by Nige
Replied by Nige on topic The debate about PFDs
One solution that I believe could be a fair compromise is an inflatable PFD. I have a Tripper one (South Africa) which is great. It has 3 chambers and you blow it up to your preference and depending on the conditions. It is really comfortable and light, and it can easily be blown up while paddling. (I've been seen puffing madly on it at a backline which was a lot bigger than expected!)

In SA where the regulations aren't as onerous it's accepted in surfski races, but it would obviously require all the approvals to be in place before being used in other countries. (The airlines use inflatable PFD's, so the concept shouldn't be a problem.)

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6 years 11 months ago #23408 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic The debate about PFDs
Speaking of the Tripper… great INNOVATIONS.

Nearly 30 years ago, I had purchased several Trippers (water front and back).
I paddled in Hawaii using nothing BUT the Tripper, knowing that I could always blow it up and add 4 kilos of floatation to my body.

What I am trying to say here is:
You could wear a wetsuit (30 to 50 kN of floatation) AND a 3 liter standard bladder (for another 30 kN of floatation)…. total: 60 to 80 kN…

or you could be using a 50 kN PFD that will not keep your head out of the water - and that will not really keep you warm in somewhat cold waters.

Here's what I don't want:
Cheeps wearing a PFD just because I am wearing one.

Everyone should first and foremost know their limits, know their gear and other safety equipment. Ideally, everyone should know a little bit about saving others too, but that would be asking "way too much" - so I am asking to just concentrate on the first part of that statement.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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6 years 11 months ago #23409 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic The debate about PFDs
Only problem with manual inflation is that it may be too late to inflate. I've been in a situation where mine would not have been inflated and I hit the rocks on the seabed (I think thats where the cuts came from) and spent some time underwater relying on my PFD to surface me as I was in serious oxygen debt and couldn't afford the swimming exertion needed to swim to the surface. Truth is I never knew which direction the surface was in but my PFD did.

I know of two more paddlers that have been dashed against rock when it wasn't expected. One in a PFD and one without. The outcomes were very different.
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6 years 11 months ago #23410 by Joseph
Replied by Joseph on topic The debate about PFDs
G' Day,

The P.F.D. Saga Da! Nothing Is Going to Save your Ass at Sea if it be your Time to Go that is a Fact. How about a swimming test for all Surf Ski paddlers before any Race any were, drop there ass out a mile from the beach on a choppy windy day some air from the beach would be nice and in there P.F.D. and there wing paddle leash raping about them and see how many make it to land. if that were the case I feel few would own a ski at all another Fact. there sad thinking is when buying something it is Big Bro's Job to take care of them. For years most Surf Ski folks were from beach and water back rounds, when we started + or - a bit 75% of Surf Ski paddlers were life saving people we met, and the other 25% came from boating or a water beach sport back round or surfing " Water People " Not land crabs,and for the most part would and can take care of them self on and in water because as in my case spent most all there life in and on open water and can read a Sea and understand weather. not living in there bath tub. All we read today on Ski sites is My Back rub's, I can not get my Bunn in the bucket? I am to big or to small what do I buy? maybe a fishing Boat. shoulder Hurt's, my arms or legs are to short? what surf ski is Fast? what Wing Paddle did that Pro racer have that won last week I want one also? what Surf Ski can I buy and win races training a few hours a week or month, I can only paddle in the summer why do I suck? If I spend more money will I be good?
I come from 20 years Paddling my Dads sit in Kayak why do I keep falling out of my new $ 5-k Surf Ski I am really a great Kayak paddler my wife tells me. I have been fishing on the bay in my sit on Kayak and I am thinking about a Ski? If I buy Mr. X's Surf Ski that a pro has will it make me a Pro also. well yes my friend a Pro Jerk, any fig out there that most of the people today on a Surf Ski have no understanding what they have, what it is built to do? what water it was Built to be used on? not built for 38 to 60 deg. water it is an open unit met to run off a warm water beach, it is a racing sport unit not built for comfort but the short fast Open water run?
Another Fact. Learn to understand All Water Sport has Danger in it most on land do not belong out there is the bottom line.

Cheers Joseph

Joseph
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6 years 11 months ago #23411 by epic5253
Replied by epic5253 on topic The debate about PFDs
all sports have their "safety rules" in cycling it's no helmet no ride.... I dare someone to argue the fact that a helmet obscure their vision or some absurd point... no pfd = no paddle...next topic please...
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6 years 11 months ago #23412 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic The debate about PFDs
You can avoid the subject…
You can make sure that the rules ask for a PFD…
I do, however, invite many paddlers to read Joseph's post.

Next, you are going to ask me to wear a PFD when I swim long distance, or a helmet when entering a car.

Funny… next topic when it suits you.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
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6 years 11 months ago #23413 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic The debate about PFDs
Tourfr you keep bringing up your wetsuit and I am still confused. Are you suggesting that in races the competitors should be allowed to wear a sufficiently bouyant wetsuit rather than a PFD?

Again, I don't know where you paddle and what your experience is. I paddle in minnesota in the USA. We paddle downwind in nasty storms when the water is close to the freezing point and there is snow in the air. I can tell you that in these conditions I overheat in a 4mm wetsuit, stopping several times in a paddle to lay in the ice water to cool off. That is just in a downwind paddle with friends and frequent stops. There is no way one could sustain race effort in a 4 mm wetsuit without dying of heat stroke, even in a snowstorm.

What you seem to be advocating is racing in a much thicker 7 mm wetsuit as a legitimate alternative to a PFD. How is this relevant to the international racing that occurs in Australia and SA? How is this relevant to racing anywhere?

If your primary paddling activity is leisurely poking about the icebergs at tourist pace, then by all means it makes sense to consider the buoyancy of one's wetsuit. But if we are taking about racing then your line of reasoning has no place here.

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Epic V12 g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
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6 years 11 months ago #23414 by topswimmer
Replied by topswimmer on topic The debate about PFDs
Maybe i'm being stupid but i think people are getting carried away!
When you paddle for pleasure/leisure its upto you what you wear/don't wear.Whether you use a leash or not you are responsible for yourself.
The difference is that race organisers have a duty of care for those that compete in their events!
It's a rule for a reason as no one solution is perfect, people cycle without helmets but are mandatory for any race, wetsuits for cold water swimming in triathlon, leathers for motorcycle racing.
My point is none of these are cast iron guarantees but it's all about minimsing risk.
We could always go down the bodybuilding route & have two seperate categories (natural vs. any drugs) or equipment you want (or don't want)Joking apart rules are there for our safety abide by them or go somewhere else.
Sorry to drag this on further i'm no expert paddler but i don't want an organiser to have to explain to my family why i'm not coming home because they couldn't be arsed with any safety rules !!!
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6 years 11 months ago #23415 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic The debate about PFDs
Zach...
I am suggesting first and foremost that people be allowed to race with the safety THEY NEED for their ability and skills.

Alright, so you don’t know me... I understand.
I was a lifeguard in the state of Hawaii. On my day off, I once rescued a guy on a boogie-board some 5 miles off shore while paddling my surfski (he was drifting towards Japan with his « floating device »).

I didn’t get my lifeguarding tests in Ohio.

In any case, I don’t think you really want to know what wetsuit I am wearing. I mean : I will tell you (because you asked) but honest : I don’t think you really care. The point isn’t about the thickness of my wetsuit, it’s about THINKING.

Little or no thinking is taking place here.
You say safety first : wear a PFD, but don’t wear a Life Vest that will keep your head out of the water. Isn’t that contradictory ?

You say PFD for floatation, I say why IF you are already wearing a wetsuit or similar ?

You remind us about safety and safety equipment, I say sure, but please remember that even a fool with ALL SAFETY GEAR will get hurt. I say don’t be a fool. I say think for yourself first... do not navigate where I navigate on the days I choose to go out, and DO NOT COPY ME.

What is actually happening right now is that more and more people aren’t thinking... they are just copying... and then MAKING ME wear a PFD. Soon, I will also be told to wear a helmet while on a one-man canoe... or even worst : upon entering my car.

Don’t copy – Seek knowledge – Find your own limits – Wear the right safety stuff (FOR YOU).

For clarification:
7mm wetsuit ? I don't know, I have never tried one (I was raised in Hawaii).
Currently in France... I paddle 70-100km per week, 12 months a year – usually wearing a 0.5mm lycra short from Quicksilver. For the 3 to 6 weeks out of the year when it’s really cold, I paddle with a 3/2 (3mm only on my legs, 2mm elsewhere) when the water temperature is 6 Celsius / air at around 2 Celsius here in France.

SA and Australia sees more sun than Minnesota – but unlike popular beliefs, they aren’t always warm places.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
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6 years 11 months ago #23416 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic The debate about PFDs
Here in the US the Coast Guard has an exemption for the use of PFD's

(c) Racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes and racing kayaks are exempted from the requirements for carriage of any Type PFD required under § 175.15.

I think we should be able to sign a waiver/release of liability and be done with it.

There's obviously no such thing as a comfortable PFD for paddling.
Remember, I asked, and I only got one response from Paddlefaster for a hybrid PFD that still looks pretty bulky and uncomfortable.

IMO all surfski paddlers should be proficient swimmers and be able to stay in there craft or at least have no problem remounting on rare occasions. That means chose the equipment and conditions that match your skill and ability level.

Elite skis are for elite paddlers that should get special consideration for there dedication, hard earned talent and skills.
They have paid there dues and deserve a higher degree of respect
(and choices).

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6 years 11 months ago #23417 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic The debate about PFDs
Fath very interesting. Does the word racing maybe imply during competition?. Does it apply when these same vessels are two or more kilometers offshore. I seems to me they are referring to sprint type events on closed courses.
I'd hazard a guess that the rule makers were either unaware of the existance of LD ski's that are used way offshore and in high wind stretches of open ocean or if they were aware of the sport they are deliberately excluded from the rule you quote by not mentioning them. A surfski is none of the craft you refer to.

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6 years 11 months ago - 6 years 11 months ago #23418 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic The debate about PFDs

Zach...
I am suggesting first and foremost that people be allowed to race with the safety THEY NEED for their ability and skills.

Alright, so you don’t know me... I understand.


You're right about a couple things: I dont know you. I have no idea how good of a swimmer you are. Neither does any race organizer. Even if you're a big shot who everyone knows, things change day to day, week to week, year to year ect. Just because you swam 5 miles last year doesn't mean squat right now.

On your own, you are free to do as you please, to your own detriment or benefit.
When it comes to a race situation, you give up freedom. I personally dislike racing with a PFD, but I understand why it is mandatory and I dont skirt the rules. Since lawyers rule the world, organizations have to take at least minimal precautions to insure participant safety. A PFD seems like a reasonable minimum precaution to me. If not a PFD, what would be reasonable mandatory precautions to you? It cannot be person specific. This has to be a blanket statement that applies to everyone. That's how these things are.

The point is this: Where else in life do you get to decide if a rule applies to you? Nowhere. Its unreasonable and irrational to think that competitions will allow participants to decide if they need safety gear or not. It is not a personal choice now, and probably never will be.

The "No Mandatory PFD" crowd has yet to provide 1 rational argument of how they are hurt by wearing a PFD. There are great PFD's now that you dont even notice that you're wearing made specifically for racing. I hated wearing a PFD canoeing until I found the NRS Ninja, designed for Team USA. Its so comfy I dont mind wearing it, hardly know its there, and it does not affect my stroke at all. Im sure there is something as comfortable for double blade racing.

Im admittedly a n00b who doesnt know anything in the grand scheme of ski racing, but the elites crying about this seem like a bunch of toddlers throwing a temper tantrum about being forced to eat vegetables... you might not like the taste, but they're good for you so your mama made you eat them.

Edit:
(c) Racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes and racing kayaks are exempted from the requirements for carriage of any Type PFD required under § 175.15.

Coming from a canoe racing background, most of the races are on a river or small-medium sized lakes. Not many have large open water crossings, and most are called off with around 40kph wind. Same goes for sculls and K1's. I think the crux of it is that in a open water race, if things go bad there is often no one to assist you. because of that, the saftey precautions are greater.

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
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6 years 11 months ago #23419 by mckengmsurfski

Fath very interesting. Does the word racing maybe imply during competition?. Does it apply when these same vessels are two or more kilometers offshore. I seems to me they are referring to sprint type events on closed courses.
I'd hazard a guess that the rule makers were either unaware of the existance of LD ski's that are used way offshore and in high wind stretches of open ocean or if they were aware of the sport they are deliberately excluded from the rule you quote by not mentioning them. A surfski is none of the craft you refer to.


Let me preface my response by saying that I'm in favor of PFD usage and wear a PFD and boat to leg leash every time I paddle, regardless of conditions. Personally, I have no issue with mandatory PFD usage.

That said, my understanding and knowledge of the USCG statute comes from defending myself after being threatened by local authorities with a $467 fine while wearing a non-USCG approved PFD (Mocke Racer) that the officers actually made me remove so that they could inspect it. What I learned is that the statue only refers to being in a racing vessel, not in a race, so the answer is no, you do not have to be in a closed course race, just in a racing vessel. The conditions do not matter, period.
As to what vessels are covered under the statue the definition section of the statue says the following:
Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Part 175.3 (Definitions):
“Racing shell, rowing scull, racing canoe, and racing kayak means a manually propelled vessel that is recognized by national or international racing associations for use in competitive racing and one in which all occupants row, scull, or paddle, with the exception of a coxswain, if one is provided, and is not designed to carry and does not carry any equipment not solely for competitive racing.”
A surfski fulfills this definition b/c the ICF now has an ocean racing category in which they define what constitutes a surfski.
Note though that the statue may not apply in certain States that have their own definitions rather than simply adopting the USCG regulations as the law in said State.

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6 years 11 months ago #23420 by jazzman
Replied by jazzman on topic The debate about PFDs
I foound the comment above about elites being the paddlers who matter ( not a direct quote) to be rather facile.
I'm a mid packer so clearly doesn't matter.
I have a friend who organises a lot of sursfki races/events. He has a blanket rule- no PFD , no entry. He also goes further- every paddler in one of his races must have a phone with a specific cell number programmed into it.So far as I can tell , there are no complaints. Perhasps we're not elite enough. His other rule is at least 2 pieces of high vis clothing.
So I always wear a PFD ( I have both a Vaikobi and a Mocke ; find neither interfere with my paddling). Both are bright , both carry my phone and a flare if needed.Both are light weight and over heating is not an issue ( maybe I'm not quick enough). If my skills ever allow me to paddle well offshore then the ability to carry a bit of gear on my person will be essential.
A couple of years ago I undertook a mission that my skills were not adequate for. I had a phone on me in my PFD , plus a survival blanket . I neede both of them. Coastguard rescue was straight foreward but had I not been able to ring my partner then I probably wouldn't be writing this today. The Coast guard chap wasn't overly critical of my pre trip decision making but was very complimentary of my wearing of a PFD.
If the elite chaps don't want to wear a PFD , then fine, But if the race they're entering has as part of the regs that a PFD should be worn , then wear the bloody thing or else bugger off and play somewhere else. It almost certainly isn't the race director who makes the local regs but they're trying to comply and give us races to do.
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6 years 11 months ago #23423 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic The debate about PFDs
Great debate mates!
MCImes thanks for steering me towards a more comfortable PFD.
The description indicates the Ninja is well suited for a bloke with a short torso, That's me!
Thanks!
Toufr, How do you swim fast holding onto a paddle? Just asking.

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