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Go Back   WakeWorld > >> Boats, Accessories & Tow Vehicles Archive > Archive through September 10, 2007

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Old    Chad (dcwillette)      Join Date: Sep 2005       08-25-2007, 3:01 PM Reply   
I saw something in another thread that reminded me of a question I have always wondered about. Rather than hijack the other thread I thought I would start this one to ask the question.

Surfers, by that I mean surfers in the traditional sense... ocean waves, standard surf boards, no boat, do not wear life vests. At least not any that I have ever seen. They have to deal with riptides, coral reefs, much larger and unpredictable waves and traveling much faster than wakesurfers.

So why do we feel the need to wear life vests and ridicule those don't wear them while wakesurfing?

Our wakesurf waves are tiny by comparision, we're going much slower, and we have a boat with friends on board right there in case something happens. The only thing I can come up with is maybe a law?

I'm not trying to argue that life vests don't save lives. I'm simply wondering if the rationale for wearing life vests while wakeboarding has been accepted blindly for wakesurfing without really assessing the risk involved.
Old    Charley Carvalho (wakeeater)      Join Date: May 2002       08-25-2007, 3:04 PM Reply   
well carbon monoxide poisoning is a good reason to wear them wakesurfing.

i think it may have to do with if your are being obliterated by waves theres not much the vest can do to help
Old    Chad (dcwillette)      Join Date: Sep 2005       08-25-2007, 3:23 PM Reply   
First, let me say sorry for forgetting that I was still in the Boats and Tow vehicles forum. I'm sure this will get moved soon.

Carbon monoxide, huh. Open air environment with relative wind. I'm thinking little chance of it causing someone to black out while on the board. If there is a real risk of carbon monoxide poisoning then it should be outlawed no matter what you're wearing.

Surfers fall all the time and I haven't heard of too many drownings. I don't think I believe in the arguement that because thier sport is so dangerous that you don't need to wear it but since ours just a little dangerous you absolutelty have to wear it.
Old    calder billhardt (longlakerider)      Join Date: Mar 2007       08-25-2007, 3:45 PM Reply   
a life vest in big wave surfing would be a bad idea because some times you need to swim under a wave t get to where you need to be to actually surf the waves. a life jacket in this sistuation would increase the chances of not getting low enough under the wave and getting sucked into the waves pull creating a big problem
Old    jason (hbguy)      Join Date: Jun 2005       08-25-2007, 3:50 PM Reply   
Chad, I surf and I too have wondered the same thing. I think it would be real uncomfortable to wear a vest while paddling out. It would also make it tough, to duck under waves. Another thing is that when I get in trouble surfing I always have my board as a floatation device, which is attached to my leg by a leash. That said, it would seem to make sense to have a vest on if you were to get knocked out. I have never worn one for the simple (and maybe not the best) reason that no one ever wears one surfing.

But I guess the real answer to your question is that wearing a vest behind a boat is required by law whereas wearing a vest in the ocean is not.

(Message edited by hbguy on August 25, 2007)
Old    Greg w (whitie)      Join Date: Jul 2004       08-25-2007, 3:55 PM Reply   
"Carbon monoxide, huh. Open air environment with relative wind. I'm thinking little chance of it causing someone to black out while on the board. If there is a real risk of carbon monoxide poisoning then it should be outlawed no matter what you're wearing."


Centurion and a few other boat company's came out with side swipe exhaust just for that reason. I don't think it is as bad now with fuel injection but a heavily weighted boat at low rpm is not burning fuel at a efficient rate regardless what the ECM is doing.

As for surfers life vest are designed to float your upper body keeping your head above water. Swimming in a life vest is difficult and would make it very hard to swim under a wave when paddling out.

just my .02

And yes a few people have lost friend's from teak surfing and wake surfing.
Old    GoodTimes (bennygoodx)      Join Date: Aug 2006       08-25-2007, 4:02 PM Reply   
Not wake surfing.
Old    Jayson Reyes (jayson_49)      Join Date: May 2007       08-25-2007, 4:22 PM Reply   
how about a comp vest for surfing? you can probably still "duck dive", but i guess you'll look like a real haolie (hawaiian term for mainlander" with any type of vest. if you're surfing with a vest in hawaii, of course.
Old    Chad (dcwillette)      Join Date: Sep 2005       08-25-2007, 4:28 PM Reply   
I think I have already formed my opinion on this but I'm curious to hear how people feel about this issue.

I do understand the challenges that swimming and paddeling with a vest in the surf would create for surfers.

I just think it's ironic and hypocritical that people as a whole don't accept someone's choice to not a wear a vest while wakesurfing but we readily accept surfers' choice to not wear one in a potentialy much more dangerous environment. Of course I'm one of those nuts that believes that it's my choice and not the government's buisness to wear a seat belt too, no matter how smart or dumb it is.

On the carbon monoxide issue, I don't think it would be too difficult for someone with the resources or a company to do some testing on the amount of carbon monoxide reaching the rider.

I would think that it would dissipate to a harmless level due to wind and not being able to accumulate to a dangerous level since it's not in an enclosed environment but I would like to see some thorough testing on the issue.

Greg, was carbon monoxide the killer for the people that died wakesurfing? I can see how teak surfing would almost be like sucking on the exhaust pipe.
Old    dabigkahuna            08-25-2007, 5:11 PM Reply   
Coming from a guy whose been surfing since age 10, here's my thoughts...

1. If you need to wear a life vest when surfing, you don't belong in the waves. You need to be able to surf and swim comfortably, without assistance, in whatever conditions you choose to paddle out to. If you need to rely on a vest to keep you out of trouble, you shouldn't be out there. If you need your board for flotation, you shouldn’t be out there (what happens when your leash snaps and you don’t have your “flotation devise” anymore?).

2. When surfing you eat crap all the time, it's normal. But, it's no big deal, the wave passes over you and you pop-up and get your breath. If you had a vest on, the wave would keep pushing you towards shore (kind of what would happen if you throw a beachball into the waves), and your chances of being held under water and running out of breath is substantially increased.

3. Tow-In Surfing, where you are dropping into waves that are 30-60 feet tall, is another story. I think that most guys know that if they go over the falls on a monster wave they have a very good chance of being held under to the point you pass out.. The best you can hope for in this situation is that If your wearing a life vest your driver will spot you bobbing up and down, get the sled to you in time, and be able to do CPR on you once he gets the two of you out of danger. But, Tow-In surfing is a whole different animal all together.

4. Wakesurfers don't need to wear a vest IMO. But… if the law states that you need to, well...then you need to.

5. Wakeboarders and wakeskaters definitely need to wear vests, IMO. I have been around surfing all my life, and I don't know many people who have gotten seriously injured while surfing. Wakeboarding and wakeskating, on the other hand, is WAAAAAY More Dangerous! I know so many people who have been knocked-out, broken bones, blew out their knee, blew out their shoulder, gotten concussions, etc., etc. In my opinion, the risk of injury is significantly higher when getting towed behind a boat, so you should definitely wear a life vest.

That's just my thoughts on the subject...
Old    calder billhardt (longlakerider)      Join Date: Mar 2007       08-25-2007, 7:26 PM Reply   
i have seen people surf mavricks with life jackets, also in step intp liquid, when laird is foil surfing i believe he is wearing a life jacket but im not positive
Old    alan plotz (alanp)      Join Date: Apr 2001       08-25-2007, 8:45 PM Reply   
i dont wear a vest when i wakesurf. i feel pretty comfortable that nothing is going to happen to me while im back there. maybe its stupid i just dont see the need to wear one
Old    Coach (oaf)      Join Date: Jul 2002       08-25-2007, 9:09 PM Reply   
It is a water density issue. Salt water is much more dense than fresh water and therefore you are much more buoyant. I had not been in the ocean for a long time and this summer while in Hawaii I remembered how buoyant you are in salt water. A PDF would only increase this. Also you have a flotation device strapped to your ankle.
Old    Ren D. (want2ridealot)      Join Date: Jul 2007       08-25-2007, 9:13 PM Reply   
When your surfing and you are paddling out you have to duck dive and that would be really hard with a life vest. Tow in surfers usually wear life vests on those knarly days
Old    Scott Legge (w00taz)      Join Date: Jun 2007       08-26-2007, 12:41 AM Reply   
I think this thread spawned from a post from me. I'm not being narcissistic and kind of meant it tongue in cheek when I made the post about vests. Later in the thread I stated that I had seen another rider hangin' 10 toe a board in and almost whack his face on the swim deck caused by some unpredictable rollers. If someone was to hit their face on the deck and get knocked out I would MUCH rather retrieve a down and out rider who had a vest on than not. Don't get me wrong I am NOT saying surfing is unsafe there's no question in my mind about its safety. As for the ocean there's no way I would consider wearing a PFD in the ocean and attempt to surf then again there's no boats out there to run you over and no boat to kiss goodnight.
Old    mike asch (mikea)      Join Date: Mar 2005       08-26-2007, 6:56 PM Reply   
I think surfing was "grandfathered" in.
meaning that people were surfing long before people thought about making a laws to protect people from themselves.

I have wakesurf and wakeboarded without a vest. it seems weird!
Old    Chris (committed)      Join Date: Jul 2005       08-27-2007, 10:47 AM Reply   
Surfers drown just like WBers do. You just may not know about it, but it happens. Biggest name, off the top of head-Jay Moriarty, and if your a surfer, you know who he is/was. You can't compare the two really, but you could compare "big wave" riding with WBing. It's the speeds and impacts that seperate normal wave riding and what we're doin. The boat is going at least 20, 21, 22, some are over 23-25-28MPH, then you plant the edge-cut-you gain even more speed. Surfing in less than 6-8 swells, isn't producing that level of impact, plus, the fall is small, compared to airing out behind a boat. You can't compare surfing with WBing. I have worn a vest while wakesurfing, and also gone without too. That should be my choice as well. I can see WBing/Skating getting the Vest tags, but not wakesurfing. Accidents are going to happen in everything in life. You can have a vest, gloves, earplugs, noseplugs, helmets, hahns' devise, and still die...
Old    Chad (oldschoolmalibu)      Join Date: Aug 2007       08-27-2007, 11:30 AM Reply   
There is no law in Mississippi that says you have to have a lifejacket on wakesurfing, skiing, tubinbg, etc....you just have to have one in the boat. The vest is your option.
Old    Kevin R Baugh (krbaugh)      Join Date: Mar 2002       08-27-2007, 11:48 AM Reply   
Rule in my boat if you are going to ski, wakeboard, surf, or fill in the blank you have to wear flotation! No exceptions
Old    Tyler McCurdy (tyboarder03)      Join Date: Nov 2003       08-27-2007, 11:52 AM Reply   
You can wakeboard or wakesurf in OR without a vest... you just have to have enough for everybody in and behind the boat. USCGA of course. That said I never wakeboard without a vest... and I rarely wakesurf with a vest. Not needed IMO unless you aren't comfortable with swimming 20 yards to your board, or can't tread water for 45 seconds.
Old    AtTheLake (bmartin)      Join Date: Jan 2007       08-27-2007, 11:54 AM Reply   
I have done both types of surfing and do feel that wakesurfing is genearlly less dangerous than ocean surfing, but am like many others comforming the norms of the sport wearing a jacket behind the boat and not in the ocean.

A couple of reasons I think for this:

As a boat owner I may incur some liability if someone drowns and everyone wears a jacket behind my boat no questions asked. In the ocean everyone is at their own risk.

Secondly when you are done surfing in the ocean you can generally stand in the water, this is never the case for wakesurfing. Deep water starts are easier wearing a jacket and if you fall you can rest and not have to tread water. Fall in the ocean and you can rest on the board.
Old    Kevin R Baugh (krbaugh)      Join Date: Mar 2002       08-27-2007, 11:58 AM Reply   
"unless you aren't comfortable with swimming 20 yards to your board, or can't tread water for 45 seconds." of course that is easy it is for the fluke accident when the lights go out and the body disappears. I would rather have the surfer wear a jacket than say if only I had he would be alive today. IMHO .... my boat my rules
Old    Kevin R Baugh (krbaugh)      Join Date: Mar 2002       08-27-2007, 12:05 PM Reply   
Alos oxean surfers are attached to the board so it never shoots off
Old    Craig (yosquire)      Join Date: Jun 2005       08-27-2007, 12:12 PM Reply   
I'm not quite sure how you'd do a deep water start with out a life jacket. The moment you lift your legs out of the water and put them on the board your head is going to go under. You have to swim with your arms while holding the rope and keeping your legs up. It does sound fun to surf w/out a life jacket...Especially if you have a crew who's quick to react.
Old    Jay (ironj32)      Join Date: Jan 2007       08-27-2007, 12:55 PM Reply   
"I'm not quite sure how you'd do a deep water start with out a life jacket. The moment you lift your legs out of the water and put them on the board your head is going to go under."

The driver just needs to keep giving you a little tension.
Old    Keith (hawaiianstiln)      Join Date: Oct 2004       08-27-2007, 2:38 PM Reply   
I haven't even finished this thread but thought I would post my thoughts before finishing.

I grew up surfing in Hawaii on the North Shore. My best friend at that time was Aka Lyman who is now a professional body boarder (and his wife) and taught me everything he knew.

I had a question to him one day about falling on big waves and how he gets right back up and keeps on going. I would ride 5 foot (hawaiian style size) and get tossed until I couldn't breathe anymore. I couldn't understand it.

He explained that if you relax when you fall and don't try and fight the wave, it will NOT roll you until the wave doesn't have anymore strength to roll you. If you relax and spread out your arms and legs, you will roll a few times and sink, then roll under the water and back up to the backside of the wave and allow you to get out of it. I tried this and it worked ever since.

That being said, if you had a life vest on, I couldn't imagine how you would escape, but only to continue to roll because the life vest would keep you floating.

Hope this helps understand.
Old    Trevor Dean (drilldaddy78)      Join Date: Jul 2007       08-27-2007, 8:30 PM Reply   
Here is my question for those in San Diego area and others like it. Is the vest required even if you are in a bay which could be considered the ocean if you want to get technical.
Old    MIKE V (madvlin)      Join Date: Jun 2007       08-27-2007, 8:45 PM Reply   
good points made:
difficult to deep water start w/o pfd
salt water "boyant"
Cant duck w/pfd

My input:
If you fall off the back of a boat there are a lot of amatures driving boats trying to hit you and knock you out. At least you will float unconcous. O Ya And Watch out for that Carbon monoxide Its a slient killer Ha!

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