Billabong V1 is the First Floatation Wetsuit (video)
Some say that drowning is the most painless way to go out. Others say it’s the worst. We’re gonna have to agree with the latter and that’s probably why we’d sport Billabong’s V1 wetsuit from here on out, provided of course we actually surfed. Hell, we might actually consider wearing this in the pool next time just to see how fast we can eject through the water’s surface. What the hell are we talking about?
In 2010 Big Wave surfer Shane Dorian almost met a watery demise. He wiped out on a massive wave and was pulled under twice over, long enough to almost drown. As a result Shane picked up the phone and called Hub, Billabongs westsuit designer asking if he could invent a wetsuit with a built-in life jacket. With skepticism he agreed, but despite his apprehension within 6 months Billabong had a prototype that contained an air bladder that could be deployed at the pull of a rip cord. Incorporated into the suit is a one time use carbon-dioxide cartridge that inflates the floatation device. According to Shane it’s powerful enough to save even the most fatigued surfers, though keep in mind you have to be conscious to activate the floatation device.
While the V1 hasn’t been mass produced (at least as far as we know), and the patent is pending, Shane has since tested the device in a real world surfing scenario where he took a wipeout and depended on the suit’s built-in lifevest to carry him to the ocean’s surface. However, given the suits obvious life savings benefits, we’d expect these to be on sale sometime in the very near future. Unfortunately, no word on a price or actual launch date.