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Safety at sea

2024 July 1

Anatomy of a life jacket

The crew aboard the Sydney 38 Clockwork fights through heavy weather under storm trysail off the coast of Tasmania near the finish of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
Kurt Arrigo/Rolex photo

One of the most important advances in safety has been the inflatable life jacket. Easy to wear and packed with extra safety features, a life vest can make all the difference when sailors accidentally go overboard. Making sure it’s properly maintained and has the features that fit your kind of sailing improves its safety level. The go-to jacket for offshore racing has been Spinlock’s Deckvest. Some of the features, such as an AIS beacon, can be added to other brands of life jackets. Most importantly, manually inflate the jacket once a year to make sure it retains air and the CO2 cylinder is charged.