In the last decade the US Coast Guard reported a sharp increase in paddling related deaths as a result of paddlers not wearing their lifejackets, or PFD’s. It has become more important than ever to don your jacket before taking to the water.
But what do you do if your Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is holding you back from giving your best performance? We asked Dawid Mocke, founder of Mocke Paddling Gear (and a former world champion paddler) what he looks for in the “perfect lifejacket”.
Whether you are engaged in professional or recreational water activities, Dawid shares the “Four Fs” of PFDs – what to look for in a lifejacket.
No surprises here. You need to know that the device will actually do what is intended – and that is, keep you safely afloat. The only way to be certain is by means of objective testing and standards supplied by the International Standards Regulations (I.S.O) or the Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.)
Check the label – is it produced in accordance with these internationally recognised standards? If not, back away. Quickly.
If you are competing in tough conditions or racing long distances, comfort is not a nice-to-have; it is a necessity. “Even the most comfortable lifejacket will feel like chainmail after three hours in rough waters, so if you are not comfortable to begin with, you stand no chance!” says Dawid.
“In addition – and aside from posing a safety hazard – there is nothing more irritating than a poor-fitting lifejacket that ends up around your neck when you are in the water.”
There are different lifejackets for different water activities. “Don’t buy a waterski lifejacket to go kayaking, or an entry-level buoyancy aid to paddle the Dusi River. Lifejackets are designed to do more than just keep you afloat; they are built to give you the best performance in your chosen activity,” explains Dawid.
Finally, modern PFDs now come with a number of features that can make your time on the water more comfortable, as well as keep you safe. For example, some PFD’s – such as the Mocke PFD of course – feature a spot for a hydration bladder, which comes in handy during times of intense physical exertion, as well as for a cellphone dry bag. “Not primarily intended for you to take action selfies,” laughs Dawid, “but rather to let your loved ones know your whereabouts, if you are in danger, or going to be late for dinner.”
Concludes Dawid; “Your equipment should never detract from your experience on the water. If you are tempted to forego your lifejacket for comfort or performance reasons – it means you are in the wrong PFD.”
Mocke is a premium paddling brand founded and managed by Surfski World Champion and athlete Dawid Mocke. The brand encompasses a range of premium apparel (sold online & via retailers) as well as a surfski school.
You create your own.
At least, that is what Dawid Mocke, Surfski World Champion and founder of Mocke Paddling, did. When regulations became more stringent, requiring mandatory use of Personal Floatation Devices (PDF) while racing, pro-paddler Dawid realised that there was nothing on the market that was comfortable or lightweight enough for him to compete in. Dawid decided to design “The World’s Most Comfortable Lifejacket”; one that would meet the necessary safety requirements, but wouldn’t hamper speed and performance, or cause the wearer to overheat while racing. And so the Mocke PDF was borne.