View Full Version : Life Jackets Required?

18th August 2006, 07:23 PM
Hi All, I am wondering about safety requirements in other countries? In Canada it is a requirement to wear a life jacket while windsurfing the law is rarely enforced but I recently got a $355 fine (see old post under windsurfing school for details).

What are the requirements in other countries?


18th August 2006, 07:48 PM
That's some fine! Wow!

In the United States, I think the law varies by state. I recall years ago there was talk that some states were going to require life jackets, but I don't remember any actually doing it. If I remember correctly, the discussion centered around whether a windsurfer was a sailboat (and needed a life preserver like all other sail boats) or whether it was a water toy.

Now, I sail in a few states (Maine, North Carolina, Florida) and these don't require a jacket.

With that said, in Winter, early Spring and late Fall, I like to wear a jacket when the wind is howling. It helps me keep my strength up if I spend time in the cold water.

18th August 2006, 08:20 PM
We have no laws about this at all if you drown is your problem :)
I used to wear an impact vest but mainly because I kept falling off at speed and it saves the ribs :)

22nd August 2006, 04:40 AM
Get an inflatable PFD and tie it between the boom front end and your downhaul :)

22nd August 2006, 12:08 PM
Hi Andrew,

I'm very disappointed that you received such a abusive fine for such a minor issue. The authorities must not realize that the board you use is an incredible floatation device both in concept and in practice. It must be difficult to be confronted with uneducated and intolerant folks that lack a practical knowledge about windsurfing.

Fortunately, authorities in my sailing locale are not focused on such ridiculous rules. Nonetheless, it appears that you are faced with unreasonable law enforcement personalities, and must take certain strategies to protect yourself. In your situation, I would hope that they have given you appropriate direction with respect to those products that they recognize as sufficient and viable. If not, they have been remiss in their responsibilities.

Personally, I hate when law enforcement folks are so misdirected and difficult. It brings out that old 60s mentality in me where the thought was to "question authority". I know that doesn't help, but one has to wonder what priorities are truly meaningful and important.

22nd August 2006, 05:25 PM
In Victoria, Australia, we too have suffered from some overzelous enforcement of Life Jacket wearing regulations that often did not make a lot of sense. Thankfully, some reason has finally prevailed in the new regulations issued at the end of 2005.
It is no longer required to wear a lifejacket on a Kitesurfer or Windsurfer if you are within 400 meters of the shore and wearing a wetsuit that is at least 3mm thick.
I guess if I was sailing out in the middle of Port Phillip Bay I would want to have a lifejacket anyhow. Not many days here where we don't wear at least a 'shorty' wetsuit, even in summer. I don't think the water police are going to measure how thick it is!
It is noticeable that a typical windsurfing wetsuit has pretty much the same amount of floatation as a buoyancy vest.

24th August 2006, 07:45 PM
Thanks for the posts, ScottC where are you located?

Went to court yesterday and the Justice of the Peace agreed the fines were excessive and reduced them to zero!

We stil have workjto do here in Canada to alter this law.

25th August 2006, 12:34 AM
Hi Andrew,

Although you mentioned ScottC in your question above, I'll assume that it was meant for me.

Hey, great news about the elimination of the excessive fine. It's great how things sometimes work out in one's favor, especially when things looked very bleak earlier.

I live in Santa Barbara, California. Since I started windsurfing in 1985, there has never been any rules about the use of floatation devices. I think that the local Harbor Patrol views windsurfing and kiting along similar lines as surfing. This is an important distinction, since it effectively takes us out of the realm of being a boat. Also, like I mentioned earlier, our boards are, in fact, floation devices. As configured, they clearly aren't as subject to sinking as boats. In my mind, sailing in an ocean environment makes things much different than things could be in a more restrictive lake type environment where the authorities can tend to be focused on recreational rules and enforcement. In reality, the ocean has an almost infinite number of launch sites, and that readily complicates any enforcement strategies. However, I should point out that some beaches can impose restrictions on where you can launch and sail. Lifeguards sometimes have to balance different recreational users to avoid problems. Usually, this is done very sensibly.

Anyway, great news about your reprieve. Still, sounds like you're going to need a floatation device, at least in the near future.

28th August 2006, 06:52 PM
Thanks SteveC, yes, I meant you, (not sure where I got ScottC from). Yes, still work to do. I did use the fact that the board floats as an argument with the Justice of the Peace.

Thanks all who have posted still interested to hear from other countries on their regulations.