NEW floatable, fluorescent vests developed by three Cronulla surf lifesavers are set to revolutionise aquatic sports like surf lifesaving — and help prevent drownings such as that of Matt Barclay at this year’s national championships.
Former ironman champion and Elouera SLSC surfboat sweep, Grant Wilkinson and clubmates Mark McDonald and Brett Wright, formed their company SurfVest Australia after they first started working on making a practical vest more than five years ago.
The ‘‘fluoro’’ vests allow for flotation panels to be added or removed inside the lining, depending on surf conditions, but does not restrict the wearer from being able to dive under the water.
Wilkinson, a Cronulla chiropractor, believes the very fact the fluoro vests stand out in the water will provide some ‘‘added comfort’’ for the wearer.
‘‘The first thing any rescuer needs in big or small surf is to be able to sight the person in trouble,’’ he said. ‘‘These vests really stand out.’’
He said while the national body, Surf Life Saving Australia, was yet to officially ratify the new garment, the company had been working closely with SLSA — especially following on from the recommendations of the coronial inquest into the death of Saxon Bird at the 2010 Australian SLS Championships.
In recent times, the company has added different sizings and now caters for the younger and smaller-sized person, as well as bigger and older competitors.
‘‘We’ve posted all our test results [on YouTube] and we’ve been allowed to sell them,’’ he said.
‘‘Last year in the boat section a number of clubs like North Cottesloe bought them, and of course our [Elouera] surfboat crews and some craft, as well as competitors from other Bate Bay clubs, have started wearing them in training.’’