Local Community News


Special safety checks carried out the day before the Round the Island Race indicated that many lifejackets aboard yachts may not be as effective as their crews assumed.

On Friday (6th July), Cowes RNLI Lifeboat Station teamed up with sports gear manufacturers Helly Hansen to provide a free lifejacket clinic at the company’s marquee on Cowes Yacht Haven.

It was found that of the 32 lifejackets examined no fewer than 75% failed safety tests.

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Tony Reeve, Cowes RNLI’s Community Safety Officer has said:

“Maybe the take up was low because little wind was forecast for the race. Then there was world cup football.

“Those who did attend, however, were rather surprised at what was revealed behind the never-opened fastenings on their lifejackets. Out of the 32, 2 were condemned outright, with 1 having a rusted and corroded Co2 cylinder, barely able to inflate the jacket’s buoyancy bladder.

“14 had out-of-date inflation systems, the worst having expired in March 2008. 6 jackets were missing crotch straps and 2 had no saddle clips.”

Tony added:

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“Some may not appreciate that fabric is significantly affected by salt water.

“Any defects in life jackets can be revealed by them being regularly opened and inspected, and through manual inflation. Our hope is that this vital message reaches everyone who use lifejackets.”

By way of an incentive to submit their lifejackets for inspection at the event, the first 30 were given a free coastal lifejacket by Helly Hanson. Local chandlers were also subsequently visited by yachtsmen to seek out replacement parts.

Despite the relatively small number taking advantage of the lifejacket examination, Tony still firmly believed the exercise was well worthwhile and was very grateful for the assistance of Helly Hansen. More clinics are planned for Cowes Classic Week on 23rd-29th July and Cowes Week between 4th–11th August.

Station Operations Officer Mark Southwell said:

“Life jackets are now well designed and comfortable to wear and their use is increasing. Tony’s team are all volunteers, giving up their time to help the wider boating public understand why maintenance is so important.

“It can be all to easy to assume lifejackets are always up to the job, but just like smoke alarms in our homes, they need to be regularly checked. Someone’s life could well depend on it!”

Caption to photos:

L-R: Tony Reeve, Emma Davies, Graham White and Richard Nichols

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