Earlier this week Billabong unveiled an innovative survival wetsuit. Complete with a self-inflating bladder, it’s a pretty bold new step forward in surfwear. The idea is the brainchild of Shane Dorian — one of the best big wave surfer in the world — who almost drowned under a turbulent swell at the Maverick’s, a notorious cold-water break near San Francisco. Billabong’s new wetsuit works in a similar fashion to the airbags used backcountry skiing avalanche survival backpacks; a surfer in troubled waters pulls a ripcord, causing a flotation bladder in the suit to immediately inflate. The suit then acts as a life vest and quickly pulls the surfer to safety at the surface of the water. So… How did this fancy new device work for Dorian?
via a Billabong press release:
The most public demonstration of the Billabong V1 suit occurred on March 15 of this year when Dorian and a small group of top big wave surfers paddled into record-breaking waves at Jaws on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Formerly considered a spot so difficult to ride that a jet ski tow-in assist was necessary, Dorian caught an amazing 57-foot wave on that day, winning both the Monster Paddle and Monster Tube categories of the 2011 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards. When Dorian pulled into the biggest tube of all time and failed to come out, he was pounded by the wave and driven deep underwater, where he deployed the Billabong V1 inflation mechanism. He rocketed to the surface and climbed back onto his surfboard, paddling off to the channel with a conspicuous hump on his back, clearly visible to the numerous photographers on hand.
Surfers want to ride waves, not tire out while paddling to them. That’s where the WaveJet comes in. Two battery-powered jets tucked into the shortboard’s three-inch shell provide 20 pounds of thrust to propel riders at 12 mph—three times the average paddling speed.
Unlike a Jet Ski’s circular exhaust nozzles, the oblong ones on the WaveJet save space and add power. By forcing water through smaller, flatter openings, the jets produce a higher-pressure stream. Riders turn the jets on and off with a bracelet remote control that also acts as a kill switch if they wipe out. Because the battery-and-jet module sits just ahead of the fins, where a standing surfer’s weight rests, the 15 pounds it adds only minimally affects the board’s balance and performance.
Although the WaveJet’s power could realistically help pro surfers shred harder, its true purpose is to make water sports less frustrating for amateurs. The board’s propulsion system is currently built into 11 surfboard models, including paddle- and lifeguard boards, and will soon be installed in bodyboards, kayaks and kiteboards as well.
Dimensions: 7.1 ft. x 21 in. x 3.125 in.
Weight: 32 lbs.
Run Time: 39 min.
Price: $4,500 (est.)
More Info: WaveJet
Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:26pm
Big-wave surfer Sion Milosky has been killed in a wipeout off the northern California coast, stunning the close-knit big-wave surfing community.
The Hawaiian-born Milosky, 35, died on Wednesday evening, apparently drowning after he was dragged under by a wave he was riding at the famed Mavericks surf break, south of San Francisco.
“He didn’t really make a mistake, he just took off on a wave, it caught him like an avalanche and he was down and just never really came up,” big-wave surfing great Peter Mel told Reuters in an interview from Mavericks, where Milosky’s wife, friends and fellow surfers had gathered on the beach for an impromptu memorial.
Mel said Milosky, who had recently joined the ranks of elite big-wave surfers in part because of his fearlessness, had been surfing Mavericks since Monday and “was completely dominating, like a true veteran” before the accident.
“We’re all really, really good friends so yeah, it hits to the core,” Mel said. “We’ve lost a family member and it feels that way.”
After Milosky was pulled from the water he was treated by paramedics at the scene and arrived at Seaton Coastside medical center in nearby Moss Beach in full cardiac arrest, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.
“The EMT people tried to revive him for 45 minutes before they brought him into our facility. Our team tried to resuscitate for 15 minutes and were unable to revive him,” Seacoast spokeswoman Beth Volz said.
The San Mateo County Coroner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted in coming days to determine the official cause of death for Milosky, who is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Mavericks, named for a dog who joined early surfers in the water, is a celebrated but hazardous surf spot just north of Half Moon Bay famed for waves topping out at over 80 feet.
Professional surfer Mark Foo was killed at Mavericks during huge swells on December 23, 1994.
“It’s with a very heavy heart that we bid farewell to Hawaiian family man and big wave surfer Sion Milosky,” his sponsor, Volcom, said in a statement on its website. “Words cannot begin to describe how saddened we are by this loss.”
Jack Morrissey, Volcom surf team manager, said the company was setting up foundation for Sion’s daughters, with information posted on the company’s website, Volcom.com.
“Sion’s first passion was his wife and kids and surfing giant waves was his second. Never before had we seen such an amazing surge of coverage from any surfer in a period of less than two years,” the company said in its statement.
For years surfers have been trying to claim the prize for Volcom Stone’s $10,000 Kickflip-Off Contest, an annual contest that challenges surfers to land a clean kick flip and document it on video. The formidably-named surfer Zoltan Torkos may have just pulled it off.
The above video was shot at the famous surf spot Steamer’s Lane in Santa Cruz, California, and while Volcom has not yet declared Zoltan the winner of the bounty, to this viewer it looks like his trick meets the criteria:
1. Your entry must be on video from the start of the trick through the ride out. No photos allowed.
2. This contest is open to everyone. The contest begins today November 21st, 2007, and will run until there’s a winner.
3. The kickflip must be a real air “above the lip” – No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats or below the lip of the wave.
4. All waves must be self caught – You must paddle into the wave. This means NO tow-ats, step-offs, jetskis, boats, dinghys, winches, canoes, oars, helicopters, dolphins or assistance of any kind.
5. No grabs of any kind. Not before, not after, not during.
6. You must completely “ride out” of the kickflip. That means if you land on the back of the wave and fail to continue surfing the wave – it’s not a make!
7. No heelflips. Or else we’d have called it the Heelflip-Off.
8. No shoes. Who surfs in shoes anyway? Regular “made for surfing” booties are acceptable.
9. You must be riding a real surfboard with at least one fin. No boogie boards, softboards, wakeboards, wakeskates, skimboards, kiteboards, trays etc.
Update: Volcom is denying him the prize:
Rule #3 of the Kickflipoff contest states: “The kickflip must be a real air ‘above the lip’ – No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats or below the lip of the wave.”
With that said, Zoltan’s kickflip is clearly below the lip and not a real air. Zoltan has pulled the first kickflip on a surfboard, but the $10,000 still remains up for grabs. We called Zoltan with our decision and he replied, “I’m not here to argue against your decision, but I am here to revolutionize surfing.”