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PFD regulations?


New Member
Dear all,

I observe an increasing use of extremely low profile of PFD's in national and international events.
Some of them seem to come from kite-surf of wake-boarding manufacturers.
Are there any regulation for PFD's used on ILCA Laser event that these products would have to meet?

In other words: Are these PFD's class legal?
(I am not going to protest anybody, but look for a new PFD for racing.)

Thanks and best,


Upside down?
Staff member
To my (limited) knowledge, there's nothing in the Class rules regarding this issue.
However, regatta SIs (or the NOR) can have language that specifies a USCG approved PFD. Only relevant in the USA, obviously.


Well-Known Member
This is a good question.

The class rules say nothing. I can't find any championship rules that would say anything, either.

The sailing instructions at the ongoing Standard Worlds say "Competitors shall wear a life jacket or other adequate personal buoyancy securely fastened at all times when afloat except briefly while changing or adjusting clothing or personal equipment. Wet suits and dry suits do not constitute adequate personal buoyancy. This changes rule 40."

RRS 40 says "When flag Y is displayed with one sound before or with the warning signal, competitors shall wear personal flotation devices, except briefly while changing or adjusting clothing or personal equipment. Wet suits and dry suits are not personal flotation devices."

How do you define "adequate" buoyancy? If wet or dry suits aren't personal flotation devices, what are?


Former ISAF Laser Measurer
Your national sailing / yachting federation will specify a standard that the PFD must meet for all dinghy racing. It is not something the ILCA gets involved in as each country or region will have their own standard. Sailing instructions will often state which standard is required to be met.


Just sailing
I believe some international regattas write in the SI's that you must wear a life jacket that is "approved in your home country". The idea is to not force sailors to buy a life jacket meeting local requirements when traveling to a regatta in a foreign country. I'm also sure many top sailors are used to training with one particularly type of life jacket, and suddenly changing to something different may throw off their game.

I know there are different requirements for what constitutes a legal PFD in the US, Canada, and EU. So even if you are sailing with a life jacket that meets the SI requirements, it still may come up short if the state Parks and Wildlife decides to conduct a spot check in the middle of a major regatta.


Just sailing
Doing some lunch time surfing, and found this old topic:


FWIW, I had an Extrasport Challenger I've probably used for more than ten years. It was comfortable and functional for me, but lets just say it was time to replace it. I went in-person to APS, and they recommended the Stohlquist Edge. It's not as sleek as say the Zhik PFD's, but it definitely much lower profile than the Challenger as well as Coast Guard Type III approved. I've only sailed with it a few times, but I've been quite happy with it.