Billabong has introduced a new wetsuit that incorporates a self-inflating bladder from a CO2 cartridge. The Billabong V1 wetsuit allows the surfer to pull a cord on the front of their wetsuit, thereby inflating a back bladder and taking him or her quickly to to the surface.
In tests and one real-world example, Shane Dorian claims the V1 took him quickly to the surface and subsequent white water from other waves merely rolled under him. That’s pretty cool stuff and certainly a welcome precaution to Shane and other big wave chargers. [See video below]
Billabong, if I may?
Normally when I see products like this I think “Why didn’t I think of that”- but truth be told I have thought of this one and I guess more than anything I’m surprised it’s taken so long. If I could offer any advice to the product designers, I’d say consider cords on both sides of the suit in the event of a broken arm. Also, if the rider is held under at depth for more than X seconds the system should activate automatically (in the event they are knocked-out). Also, I’m not sure if the inflated bladder on the back pushes the surfer forwards – that would be unfortunate in the event the surfer passed-out.
I’m not a big wave surfer, but I’ve had a few hold-downs in hurricane swells and it sucks. During Hurricane Earl the swell got freaky and very large just as I paddled out and I was under for nearly 2 waves. For anyone held-down like that you know how scary it is and it makes you wonder – if only for a fleeting moment – why you’re out there to begin with.
Check out the video and if you’re charging large surf, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and consider buying the Billabong V1.
Posted by: Lawrence