Can you help come up with a lifejacket design you'd love to buy and wear?
I wrote a while back about lifejackets and how boring they are. Why can’t they be more appealing, I wondered?
As objects of desire they’d be more widely used. It’s possible this could be as effective in promoting their use as the MCA’s and RNLI’s current policy of education.
The idea of a better range of more groovy lifejackets struck a chord. And it drew a comment from Alistair Hackett, general manager of Ocean Safety, which designs, test and manufactures the Kru range in the UK.
Alistair pointed out that lifejacket manufacture is so constrained by regulatory requirements
and approval that making them fashion items is a massive hurdle. However, he was keen to see if anything could be done to improve the appeal and comfort of lifejackets.
Yesterday I met up with Alistair and Charlie Mills, managing director of Ocean Safety, and learned a bit more about the hoops manufacturers have to jump through to get approval for lifejackets – everything from drop tests of fittings to certified colour fastness of material. If you’ll excuse the expression, making lifesaving equipment is a minefield.
I also learned that the fashion end of yachting tends to shy away from lifejackets because A. the margins are small; and B. because of potentially negative associations with lifesaving gear. In short, they don’t need it.
But I still think there are some ways of improving the ‘covetability’ of lifejackets. I think this is the way to make wearing them more widespread and frequent.
I think a lifejacket you’ve selected and which has personal appeal is more likely to go into your own kit bag, and that this is a much better idea – and far safer – than relying on the stock kit on various boats you crew on. You never know how they’ve been cared for or when, if ever, they were checked or serviced.
So the challenge is to see if a lifejacket can be improved aesthetically and ergonomically and have more retail appeal, yet still meet the tight regulations that apply.
I’ll be writing about this in the magazine shortly, and hopefully launching some sort of competition to design what we’re calling ‘the Kru Concept’ lifejacket, designed and tested by…you.
If you’re interested in taking part or having a say in improving the one bit of kit you can carry that might just save your life, please do get in touch.