What would a modern life jacket look like if you threw out the rulebook and started with a clean slate? The answer lies with the winners of the announced Sept. 15 at the International Boat Builders Exhibition and Conference in Louisville. Sponsored by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water and the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association, a team of five judges from the boating, paddling and life jacket manufacturing industry reviewed nearly 250 contest submissions from as far away as Mongolia and New Zealand, and also asked recreational boaters to vote for their favorite design entry.
The goal of the competition was to rethink a 100-year-old design, seek out the newest technologies and design innovations and develop interest in newer, more versatile life jackets. Design entries were judged on the following criteria: innovation, wearability, value/affordability, reliability, versatility and practicality. At stake was $15,000 in prize money.