Australian Sailing recently found that many dinghy sailors are wearing buoyancy vests that do not appear to have been designed and/or manufactured in accordance with recognised Australian or international standards. This may place sailors at risk as well as being contrary to Australian Sailing’s rules.
Certain vests inspected by Australian Sailing, such as those manufactured under the ‘NOB’ brand, had, at the time of inspection, markings inside that may imply compliance with a particular standard. Upon closer inspection, there appeared to be no mark to confirm that the product has been designed, manufactured and tested in accordance with the recognised standard.
Australian Sailing’s rules state that sailors racing in dinghies or off the beach boats must wear a lifejacket that is compliant with AS4758 or an equivalent international standard, such as EN393 or ISO 12402-5. Lifejackets that satisfy these standards will be clearly marked with the recognised mark of the standard they comply with.
Australian state maritime regulators also require that lifejackets are compliant with a recognised standard. Sailors wearing non-compliant lifejackets risk fines from these regulatory bodies.
Australian Sailing and maritime regulators require compliance with recognised standards so that the wearer has reasonable assurance of safety when immersed in water. A lifejacket that is designed, manufactured and tested in accordance with the recognised standards meets a minimum specification to ensure it provides an effective standard of performance.
Testing of lifejackets compliant with the standard and non-compliant vests found that the compliant lifejackets kept the wearer’s face out of the water but the non-compliant vests significantly under performed, with the wearer’s face submerging.
Sailors, race officials, coaches and instructors should ensure that lifejackets that comply with recognised Australian and/or international standards are being worn by all participants when out on the water.