Sydney International Boat Show 2013

Date Posted:27 August 2013 

“Keep an eye out for Kevin, our resident Lifejacket expert. Kevin (and Deb) will be helping show visitors to understand how to maintain their lifejackets between services. Stop in and say hello and have your lifejacket questions answered.”

The quote was taken directly from this year’s official program and as such we adopted this as our mission statement for the weekend.

The Inflatable Lifejacket care info Stand, with 10 Inflatable Lifejacket manufactures represented and over 70 Lifejackets inflated over the 5 days.

I would like to give you the number of people who visited the stand but all we can say is our lunch, 10 minutes was around 4:40pm and on the run. This stand was a great success.

The stand at the boat show was (to an extent) an unknown factor going in as to what we would achieve. However, with the doors opening on the Thursday within the hour we knew we were in for a huge 5 days.

The swell of numbers around our stand and the patience of people waiting and listening to us speaking to those ahead was amazing.

The gender of people stopping was predominantly male (40+) however there was a larger than anticipated volume of couples and families.

The major questions and misunderstanding related to the services increments and requirements of their lifejackets and clarifying how they located appropriately qualified agents to bring the jackets up to date legally to meet Maritime laws.
This is THE major issue that we in the lifejacket supply industry need to try to rectify going forward from a safety point of view.

The breakdown of people stopping to ask questions was more skewed toward sailing than we forecast.

With that noted:
There appears to be a great deal of confusion relating to recent changes to wearing and carrying requirements in the various yachting classes K1-K7 racing allowances.

We were able to clarify the jacket services and Buoyancy options but referred questions that were relating to racing requirements back to club safety officers if necessary.

There was a high volume of guests that stopped asking questions that were new to yacht sailing and making sure the correct style and level of jackets they had on the vessel met the standard.

The young families were another group that we probably did not foresee as a group that we would have visiting the stand in any great volume and again we were surprised to the contra.

Young Mums and Dads (and grandparents) wanted to make sure their children were in appropriate lifejackets.

The was a clear message that they were completely as one in that they understood and valued the need for making sure that their children were protected and safe.

The questions quite often related to the option of inflating (both auto and pull cord) Jacket versas the foam styles. We are not huge advocates of inflating jackets on children primarily due to the strength a child would need to pull a manual inflating jacket and also the predisposition some children would have to “pull the cord” as soon as the supervising adult’s back was turned just to see what would happen (in the case of boys 8-12) The jacket is then rendered useless until another rearming kit is fitted. The market does provide a range of inflatable lifejackets for those parents who wish to put the child in one starting at a weight range of 15kg.

The is a good range of foam jackets on the market at the moment that have progressed a long way from the plan cumbersome yellow bricks of the old days that children would find more appealing and be inclined to wear. Educating children to wear their lifejacket is the same as the “No Hat No Play” rule and “Click Clack Front and Back” rules that they know they have to abide by in other facets of their life. We suggested that the parents, where possible, involved the children in picking the jackets as it is vital that they are fitted correctly to the child’s torso. We reiterated that a crutch strap is there for a critical reason (to stop slip through) and that it is important to make sure it is in place at all times. We also pointed out that a jacket would do well with a tether strap (particularly on little ones to allow possible movement limitation to confined area. (stopping falling overboard)

The guests that stopped and spoke to us genuinely wanted to do the right thing for their safety.
The primary conclusion resulting from the feedback is that manufacturers would be served well to agree on a universal service regime.

At the present time the varying increments of service is completely unmanageable.
A universal service regime may not work for all manufactures but it you as manufactures do not control this as a group it will be controlled by maritime and or by the AS Standard.

Bringing in one formal Service increment plan for all inflatable jackets (excepting where commercial vessel requirements override) will make enforcement by Maritime Officers, Police and Fisheries Officers more manageable.

At the moment (as evidenced by the questions being asked to us seeking clarification from the various members of the entities noted above) they find it difficult as officers to manage with the various branding requirements.

We would like to thank you all for your participation in the stand by supplying us with examples of your jackets and popping in to say hello, and most importantly having faith in us to represent you the industry as a group at this year’s Sydney International Boat Show.

Kind Regards
Kevin Lewis & Deb Sawyer 

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