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PFD Design Contest Results

Wednesday, September 16, 2015  
Posted by: Chris Stec
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2015 Life Jacket Design Competition Winners Break New Ground

LOUISVILLE, KY, September 15, 2015 – What would a modern life jacket look like if you threw out the rulebook and started with a clean slate? The answer lies with the winners of the 2015 “Innovation in Life Jacket Design Competition” announced today at the International Boat Builders Exhibition and Conference in Louisville. Sponsored by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water and the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA), a team of five judges from the boating, paddling and life jacket manufacturing industry reviewed nearly 250 contest submissions from as far away as Mongolia and New Zealand, and also asked recreational boaters to vote for their favorite design entry. 


The goal of the competition was to rethink a 100-year-old design, seek out the newest technologies and design innovations and develop interest in newer, more versatile life jackets. Design entries were judged on the following criteria: innovation, wearability, value/affordability, reliability, versatility and practicality.

At stake was $15,000 in prize money.
Competition Judge and Image Base Vice President Joe Fogarty said, “Whether a commercial enterprise, an individual inventor-entrepreneur, a student or a group of Scouts, the 2015 Life Jacket Design Competition brought forth a lot of creativity. The entries we chose will not only keep us afloat, but showed thoughtfulness, problem solving and practicality.”


Judge Lili Colby, Owner and “chief PFDiva” at paddlesport life jacket manufacturer MTI Adventurewear said, “It was exciting to see that so many of the competitors shared a common goal to create more wearable product for the average recreational boater. Thinking ‘out of the box’ not only meant that the designs need to work, but that they also need to look good and be comfortable to wear. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a number of the finalist’s designs make it to market someday if they can be US Coast Guard approved.”


Added Judge Christopher Stec and Chief Operating Officer of ACA | Canoe-Kayak-SUP-Raft-Rescue, “The contest truly showed innovation in PFD design at its best. From highly technical entries to simple concepts, there are several new ideas out there that could help boaters stay safer out on the water.” 


Additional judges included marine industry consultant, speaker, and former “West Marine Advisor,” Chuck Hawley and Frank Solazzo, a Team Leader with Leland Limited which supplies high-pressure gas filled cylinders used in inflatable life jackets.


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Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling; stewardship support to help protect paddling environments; and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration and recreation.

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