Downwind safety

That looks better than what I could find when I bought me impact vest last year…but not by much…seems pretty straight forward concept…put a couple pockets on a good impact vest

The Vaikobi vests do not meet USCG flotation standards but the same for all the neoprene impact vests. Probably can’t technically be called a ‘PFD’ in the US.

“Vaikobi PFDs are manufactured to the most internationally recognized standard, ISO 12402-5 (Level 50 - equivalent to AS 4758 Type 2, USCG 50N) so you can be confident your Vaikobi PFD will be there when you need it.”

What standard are you looking for?


I personally couldn’t care any less but our sheriff’s marine patrol is more picky. I’m told Vaikobi vests do not qualify but this is for surfski. Nothing required for a supfoil board :partying_face:

Nice to keep it factual with the applicable standards it does not meet.

FWIW, I got a Vaikobi V3 Ocean racing PFD (like the one James Caey, Zane, and others use in some of their long DW runs). Range of motion is nice, it is also pretty light. Quality seems about a “B to B-”. Your foil wing will rub on the plastic buckles the carrying your board down a trail or whatever, so it’s nice to cover them with a DIY Neo sleeve. I kind of wish I’d gone with the Manera, for the better body protection.

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Yeah but the Manera doesn’t come in pink like the Vaikobi… :grin:

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I’ve been running the Viakobi VPX Race on every DW run since I’ve gotten it. I can put a EPIRB (PLB) on the shoulder and 1.5L water in the back with a marine radio. In the chest pocket I keep a signal mirror, whistle, and phone, with room for some snacks and tools too. You get used to the weight and have free range of motion.

While the vest is not USCG approved, it provides adequate flotation. As a member of the USCG, the kit I use probably seems overkill to most, but if/when sh*t hits the fan, I want every single option available to me to get rescued. You will spend hundreds of dollars on a stab, why not on safety equipment?

My personal opinion, life vest certification does not matter. What matters is that you have the equipment readily available to help yourself in a worst case scenario. Water is cold and you are small compared to the ocean…


Pretty nice just to have so many pockets and the visibility. A full on type 1 USCG pfd is just too bulky and hardly necessary when you’re tethered to a 100+ liter flotation device. Guys are being told to go in and get a PFD on SUP foil boards by the sheriff’s marine patrol at the Hatchery (C. Gorge). The distinction between requiring a pfd or not is simply having a paddle in your hand instead of a wing. Ultimately it’s just about raising revenue :exploding_head:

I recently had a 3.5 V2 Strike explode on me 1/2 a Km out in 2.5M swell. My neoprene impact vest was pretty close to getting tossed as it was so restrictive to prone paddle in.

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The Vaikobi vests have a 50N flotation rating that’s equivalent to 5 liters of buoyancy. The standard USCG approved type 2 life jacket has 7 liters of buoyancy.

I think there is a lot of room (and opportunity) for improvement/development in this area, and I think that as the sport grows it will get there…good impact protection - including ribs, range of motion for paddling, and storage pockets, without tons of straps dangling around. PFD’s for whitewater kayaking have come a long way, but it took a while…

reminds me, a new thing seems to be to DW offshore without a leash, which would be a pretty stupid way to get stuck out at sea with just a paddle as your board glides away just faster than you can swim.


Wear a leash on DW runs.


Wow. Just like that…oh, but wait, there’s somewhere there to save the day!..oh, never mind…two down…

I have to say the impact is great when watching it actually happen, not just once, but TWICE IN A ROW!

Hope everyone was OK…clearly, someone recovered the board/camera.

I HATE leashes, but wear them

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I think that a very important thing to think about are red flag events. I am in the construction industry, and we have found that accidents happen way more often when there is a red flag event. Here are the big 5 red flags:

-In a hurry
-Change in personnel
-Deviation from the plan
-Communication breakdown
-Lack of or Improper use of equipment/tool

These all make a ton of sense for DW safety as well. Its so easy to forget a leash, or a cell phone when you are in a hurry. Change in personnel is HUGE! It is really fun to have people come join that are visiting or not normally in the group, but adding someone new to the group adds alot of risk for everyone. You are responsible to a degree and add more risk for yourself when you may be helping someone rescue that is not up to the task. Of course Changing plans last minute can put you in danger, especially if you have new people or you have not communicated about it.

Think about it!

Beyond all that, I do most of what has been said here.

Everyday run:
-Apple watch with cell
-Vaikobi with the following in pockets
-Sharkbandz (kept in Vaibobi in case I have a long swim in for some peace of mind
-extra leash string
-tools for adjustments

For Longer runs also bring a EPIRB, gels, etc. and I only go with a crew that I know well. Bring a boat or a ski for longer runs. The cost benefit is really a no brainer in my opinion.

Hope this helps,



@shep A lot like backcountry skiing in avalanche country - the stoke can kill…saying no when there are red flags is often the best option (if you want to play it safe)…

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Ditto! I also carry an LED strobe as one more backup and to make me easier to find if needed. SF bay is cooooold.


It seems a little gimmicky for their target audience but would be a very unrestrictive vest for downwinding.

That clip is pretty much all you need to see. Almost comical if it wasn’t such a mess.

Here is another downwind story with a leash breaking - crazy how helpless you are without a board

What specific EPIRB?