America's Cup: PFDs and a New Venue

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PFDs and a New Venue

Keeping an MOB victim afloat was only the beginning of the design brief for these jackets

Keeping an MOB victim afloat was only the beginning of the design brief for these jackets

While windage has long been a concern aboard high-performance sailboats, racing a full-foiling catamaran at 40-plus knots takes the question of streamlining to a whole new level. Same thing with safety: when sailing in gale-force apparent winds, every little bit helps.

It was with this in mind that Spinlock, working in cooperation with Sir Ben Ainslie’s UK-based Land Rover BAR team, has created what it calls “the most technologically advanced lifejacket in the world,”a flotation device that is designed to both minimize drag and maximize safety.

On the performance side, the BAR T2 vest has—we kid you not—been subjected to “rigorous wind tunnel testing” to ensure it creates as little wind resistance as possible when it’s blowing over the 40 knots.

On the safety side, in addition to the usual buoyancy, the BAR T2 includes D30 motorcycle-grade shock-absorbing body armor as well as an integral emergency air cylinder and knife. Equally important, the jacket has been designed so that it can be easily removed should it become caught on, say, a line or piece of hardware in the event a sailor becomes trapped beneath an inverted hull.

“We’re not just trying to conform to rules and regulations … we’re trying to help people perform better,” says Spinlock CEO Chris Hill. “We look at the crews as athletes, and we look a how to minimize the [impact] of staying safe. The traditional form of life jacket is no longer suitable for these guys so it needed a new approach.”

For more on the new lifejackets, visit

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