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The Truth Behind Comp Vests (Non USCGA vests)
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Puck3tt
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PostPosted: Sep 25, 2007 8:02 pm    Post subject: The Truth Behind Comp Vests (Non USCGA vests) Reply with quote

I won't doubt that this has been posted before, but I'm going to say it anyway.

There seems to be a general misconception about comp vests that are not USCGA. Most people seem to agree that the floatation of these types of vests aren't that great. I've noticed from reading reviews though that most still seem to believe that these vests will keep them afloat. Depending on your body fat %, that may be the case. If you are a very fit person though (which many wakeboarders seem to be), then you should think about investing in a USCGA vest, because you are risking your life every time you wakeboard with a comp vest.

Why am I posting this? I'm not from the USCG or anybody official. I'm just an experienced wakeboarder like most of you, and I want you to know my story for the greater good.

My brother is a very experienced wakeboarder (10+ years). He is also very fit, and probably only has about 7% body fat. Earlier this year, he decided to buy a JetPilot A 10 Comp Vest. I'm not sure what prompted him to do this, but I'm guessing the comfort factor + it looks pretty sleak. I'm pretty sure he was aware that the vest wasn't USCG approved. He would joke around sometimes about how it probably won't keep him afloat, but I think he had some faith in the vest that it would at least keep his body above the water, or else he probably wouldn't have worn it. Sunday afternoon, my brother was wakeboarding with some friends from work, wearing his comp vest. He had tore his meniscus early in the summer and had just been released to wakeboard, so he was a bit rusty. He went for a few runs and did fine, but on his last run his board caught an edge and he face-planted, coming out of his bindings. The people in the boat circled around, but he never surfaced. It seems that he either blacked out or was knocked out. He sank, and they could not find him. A few hours later, the Coast Guard found his body, with his JetPilot vest still secured to him.

Some of you may say that he should have known since it wasn't a USCGA vest, but what does that mean? I mean, I might think that it just means that it won't float you face up.

I emailed JP about the vest and this is what they told me:

Quote:
As far as the A-10 goes, our comp vests are more
for protection then flotation. The vest will float you but not like an
approved vest will. It's not going to put you on your back and make sure
your head is out of the water. The comp vests are for experienced
riders for sure. If you are looking for something to float you, I would
go with an approved vest for sure. Please don't hesitate to ask more
questions if you need to. Have a great day.


Ok so I was right then. The vest should float you, just not face up...
This is very disturbing to me. The fact that they say that it will float you is misleading. Isn't floating a part of protection? Protection from dying? I'm an experienced wakeboarder, so I asked her more specifically that if I were to be knocked out from a fall, would it keep me above the water. This is what the same person responded:

Quote:

I would recommend you get an approved vest if you are worried about the
flotation. The comp vest will not float you right & on the vest it
states it is not an approved vest. I hope that answers your question.


Ok, so now she's saying that it won't float me right...What the hell does that mean? So I asked her "But I'm an experienced wakeboarder. I thought that is what these vests are for...Who should be using these vests then?"

This is the response I got from the same person:

Quote:
All I can tell you is, the vest will not float you. That is why it is
not an approved vest because it does not have the required amount of
foam in it to keep you afloat. If you are an experienced rider then you
could wear one for sure but no guarantee's on the floating end of it. It
has the protection needed for your torso and the flexibility for riding.
I'm sorry I don't know what else I can say to help you understand. If
you'd like to speak with my boss you can call us at 760.734.1111 my
extension is 104 and I can transfer you to him.


So now the vest won't float at all? WHICH IS IT? Why the hell did it take 3 emails for them to tell me that the vest will not float?! Why the hell would I, an experienced rider, want something that doesn't keep me above the water? Blacking out or getting knocked out is not uncommon to any wakeboarder - experienced or inexperienced, so why the hell are they marketing these types of vests to experienced wakeboarders, and NOT telling them about the risks of these vests (beside saying it's not USCG approved).

Here are my questions:

1. Shouldn't there be some kind of disclaimer or warning about this when you buy the product?
2. Isn't floatation one of the most important things if you are into watersports? Comfort and style are nice but who really cares if you are dead?
3. What is the point of wearing these vests if they don't float you? Why do they even put any floatation in them if it is not enough?

This has been troubling me since Sunday, and I think to myself, if there would have been some kind of warning or something along the lines of "Risk of drowning is possible while using this vest" then my brother might still be here. But he's not, and it hurts like hell. I'm not usually one to point the finger, but this just doesn't seem right at all.

I'm sorry this is such a long post, especially for a first post. Here's an abridged version.

Cliff's

1. Comp vests don't keep you above the water if you are knocked out
2. My brother died wearing a JetPilot A 10
3. There are no warnings or disclaimers or anything about the floatation on JP's online store
4. It took 3 emails for them to tell me that the vest does not float you.
5. Is this right?
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PostPosted: Sep 25, 2007 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Puck3tt, I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. I can't imagine going through something like that.

On the topic:

USCGA approved vests are class 3 life preservers. That means they will float you with your lungs full of water. They will not float you face up. That's either a class 2 or 1 life preserver.

Non-USCGA have no guarantees that they will do anything. I own one and on the back it says in huge lettering that it is not a life saving device. It is not a life preserver. Basically it admits it's good for nothing. Emails to them should say the same thing.

I guess the reason most people wear unapproved vests rather than nothing is so they don't get hassled by people or they don't think anything will happen to them.

If you are curious as to how much good your vest does you while you're sitting in the water without your board on exhale all of the air out of your lungs. If you sink below your nose you'll die if you ever become unconscious.

There probably should be warnings when purchasing online as you probably can't read the disclaimer on the vest.

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PostPosted: Sep 25, 2007 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure many people know that these vests are good for nothing, but it still seems that a lot of people don't know this. And it really scares me because these vests are so popular.

I understand if you don't care about your life, if you were to get hurt or die, but think about your friends and your family before you make a choice to wear one of these things. Do you really want to put them through that kind of pain?

And when I say "you" I don't mean you, wakebrad.
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PostPosted: Sep 25, 2007 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow i am sorry to hear about your brother. that really upsets and scares me. again on the topic of a10 attack vests, i ride almost entirely in salt water and have never really had flotation issues with my a10. i mean ive always noticed it is not as floaty as a uscg vest, but i always hear people talking about htem as htough they do absolutely nothing, mine floats me pretty good, i am goign to go ahead and say that is mostly the salt water making me more bouyant though
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PostPosted: Sep 25, 2007 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My condolences on your loss. I'm very sorry about your brother.

As for the non-CGA vests, I think they state pretty clearly that they are not life preservers and therefore no assumptions should logically be made that they will keep you afloat. I wear a JP Baller and it floats me pretty well. Then again, I'm not exactly what you would call "wiry" so I float pretty well anyway. I guess my advice would be to either wear a CGA vest or understand that you are taking a risk.

Again, I'm sorry for the loss of your brother. Sad

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PostPosted: Sep 25, 2007 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats a terrible tragedy, and nothing we can say can change that but I do hope your suffering is eased as quickly as possible.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, my condolences. Thats terrible.

One thing to remember is that it depends on the non CGA vest. I have tried many different ones. The worst was an O Brien one. It was thin as paper and seemed to actually make me sink MORE than when I didnt have it on. I dont know if thats possible but it definetely didnt float AT ALL. The next worse is the Jetpilot A 10. Not quite as bad as the O Brien but I still have to struggle to keep my head above water. Next best is my Rip Curl stealth unlimited. It floats me OK. I believe its enough to keep me at the surface if I were to be unconscious but just barely. The final one is my old O Neill Outlaw (I think the new ones float less actually). That floated me right up there with some CGA vests. Definetely would have kept me at the surface.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for your brother, but I disagree that more labels/restrictions are the right answer.

If you look close enough at all of the stickers on your boat, I am sure you can find "not intended for use on water" somewhere. Does this help?

The ultralight vests exist because there is a market for them. (bouyant or not) Limiting our choice this is not what we really want in the long run.

Thanks for the information.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My condolences to you and your family.
Yes there have been many discussion about noncga and cga vest on this site, but none with your experience.

Many have said the reasons why they don't wear a non-cga is probably the same thing you and your brother thought:

"Comfort and I'm an experience wakebaorder."

But regardless of experience, being unconscious wipes that slate clean of wearing something that is not a cga vest.

As Wakebrad stated:
If you are curious as to how much good your vest does you while you're sitting in the water without your board on exhale all of the air out of your lungs. If you sink below your nose you'll die if you ever become unconscious.

Every noncga vest I have seen has a warning clearly printed on the inside of the vest . All new CGA vests I've seen have a booklet attacked telling you all the diffent classes of PFD and what their expectations are.


Again I'm sorry to hear about your brother and unfortunately it takes something as a personal tragedy to make you think " if you had done it differently."

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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a lawsuit.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Puck3tt, Thats truly terrible, it's shocking to hear of your loss.

I totally agree though that in reality, if a vest is useless at keeping you afloat (what should be a major design feature) then you have to question why it's made...

What ever certification level the vest achieves it beggers belief that companys still produce these products. especially at their high price.

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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

02lightning wrote:
Sounds like a lawsuit.


No, it doesn't. The outcome was horrible, but completely and totally preventable. Non-USGA vests are labeled "not to be used as a flotation device," or something similar.

Your brother rolled the dice with his life. He lost, and now you're looking for someone to blame other than him. Understandable to a degree, but misguided.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want you all to understand that I'm not saying that these vests shouldn't be made. Some people like to take risks and that is there choice. All I'm saying is that there should be something more than just "Not USCGA approved" when you buy it at an online store. Every store I looked at, the message of how risky this product is did not come across to me. It seems like they should at least just say something like "Use at your own risk." And it scares me that the person from JP that I emailed was reluctant to tell me that the vest doesn't float you. If I would have gone by her first email, I would have been under the wrong impression. It's like they don't want to tell people that because they are more concerned with making a sell, instead of telling people how dangerous their vest really is.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a good point though. Say some kid goes online and buys a vest. They don't know what non-CGA means or the implications so they buy it because that's what they see everyone ride. They spent $100 of their hard earned money and then look down to see the label on the vest. Personally, if I were in that situation I think I'd just use it but if I had been warned at purchase time I might never have purchased it in the first place.

Although most kids think they're invincible and wouldn't care anyway, it still seems like the right thing to do to put some message as to what non-CGA means when you list them for sale.

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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HELLO they are called COMP vests for a reason, not freeride out in the middle of the lake with a 6-pack in me.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hollywood wrote:
HELLO they are called COMP vests for a reason, not freeride out in the middle of the lake with a 6-pack in me.


What's the reason then? I don't really get it. It seems like if you are a serious wakeboarder then you'd be doing more dangerous stunts, and want a lifejacket that would keep you afloat. So please explain to me what you mean.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

they are to be used during competitions, with safety personel on the boat and shoreline. during comps most skiers aren't throwing their biggest/most dangerous tricks
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't even think they're safe in a competition. The boat is still going to be the fastest way to get back to the rider. No different than free-riding. Unconscious, a person will sink in a matter of a few seconds. Unless you have a jetski following along during the whole pass no one can get to them in time.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no rational justification for wearing a non-USCG approved vest.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wakebrad, I completely agree, comes down to personal choice. Nobody is forcing you to wear one.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, I am so sorry about your loss. I can't imagine how that must feel. But in his comfort, I know some boarders that are up there with him.

With that, I always wear a USCGA approved vest, and so will my GF. I lectured her very sternly when she was asking a local shop about the A-10. I told him, and her she will never be purchasing that.

I have a USCGA vest and don't have any restrictions at all. It's a fad endorsed by riders and their sponsors.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

haugy wrote:
It's a fad endorsed by riders and their sponsors.


Yup.

I am sorry you lost your brother, with permission I want to copy and paste this to some family members who ride with a non aproved vest.

I hope you and your family continue to ride and play out on the lake. It would be the best way to honor your brother.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thats too bad.. I feel your pain.
But i do where a cga vest. i feel that i won't be able to land 1080 with or with out ether way.

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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, that's a terible thing to hear about. All I can offer you is my condolences. There is actually a torts case out there against a life jacket manufacturer from several years ago. If I recall right, it was against HO. A guy came down on his head, sank, and drowned in a matter of a seconds. That court found that the warning that was on the vest at that time was insufficient. I really don't know if that affected the industry's standards, but I assume that these places have run the current warnings past their respective attorneys. That being said, I dont think these warnings are enough. Let's be honest, most of us out there are risk takers to a certain extent. We never really think something like this will happen to us, so we ignore the little warning. Have any of you read the warning with their wakeboard? Good god! I personally would not ride without an approved vest, and I'm not pulling tricks nearly as big as a lot of people do. I've knocked myself out, and my Jet Pilot approved vest kept me afloat nicely. That being said, I also barefoot, and all I wear then is my flotation suit. This summer, I took a nasty fall and hurt my MCL. I found that without the use of one leg, I was really suprised about how much of a struggle it was to keep my head from going under. I know a number of people on here work at board shops and some run websites, so I urge you to stear customers towards USCGA vests, and I also urge you to encourage your suppliers to move towards more approved vests. We can influence industry trends by showing an unwillingness to purchase the non approved "flotation devices."
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Puck3tt, I'm very sorry for your loss, that's terrible. I know lots of people that will never read warnings and just assume it's safe since the store sold it to them.

A little off topic, but why don't surfers wear life vests? Only time I see them is on big wave riders.

Quote:
There is no rational justification for wearing a non-USCG approved vest.

Agreed
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dirtysparks, They get in the way of paddling. On some big days, believe me I've wished I had one.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Say some kid goes online and buys a vest. They don't know what non-CGA means or the implications so they buy it because that's what they see everyone ride.

I think this is an issue where parents should step in. For one, the kid is gonna need his parents' credit card to order the vest so the parents should know what they are getting. My dad wouldnt let me ride behind our boat if I wasn't wearing a cga vest. It's that simple. I think CGA vests are just like wearing helmets on a skateboard. It's not that much of a performance difference and you should understand the risks you are taking by not wearing one.

for those that don't know, a type III approved vest has 15.5 lbs of floatation.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i am so sorry for your loss. thanks for getting your story out and informing the public. i always knew those vests were approved, but i never knew what that meant. i always thought the boyancy would be just enough to keep you up, but now i know otherwise and am no longer in the market for one.

even those crappy orange lifevests that are ultra buoyant can be dangerous, i was messing around taking a run with the orange vest and came down on my back edge on a 360 and the force of me getting thrown backwards into the water threw the head part of the jacket over my head leaving my head under water, one of the scarriest moments of my life. never wearing one of those again.
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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about your brother.

I always thought it was pretty obvious that such a thin vest wouldnt do much if there was a serious incident such as a blackout. unfortunatley your brothers board came off as well because the board would of acted as extra flotation and may have prevented him from sinking in this incident. Some non-uscga vests do float better than others such as the rip-curl vest that has been mentioned. personally I find the the jet pilot attack vests one of the worst vests as far as flotation goes but I wear one at the cable because they dont absorb much water therefore not getting my car wet on the way home.

Again my prayers go out to you and your family.

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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My prayers are with you!

It disturbs me that they even sell these vests as they themselves state they are not a floatation device, so why sell them? Well I am sure the coast guard guy is not going to run over and check everybodys vest to see that it is uscga, so it acts as a decoy, because we all know they are required in every state as far as I know. I think that makes the manufacturers liable even though they state such. It's like robbing a bank with a toy gun, your still going to jail. In this case and I am sure others the result is not good. I would hope that dealers would stop buying non-uscga vests and to promote safety! God Bless you and your family!

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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the article:

http://media.www.lsureveille.com/media/storage/paper868/news/2007/09/26/News/University.Graduate.Dies.In.Wakeboard.Accident-2992143.shtml

University graduate dies in wakeboard accident

Life vest fails to keep Puckett afloat

By: Ginger Gibson

Posted: 9/26/07

Adam Puckett set out Sunday for a day on the Amite River, equipped with a wakeboard, a boat and a life vest marketed as "the comp vest that all comp vests want to be."

But when the 26-year-old University alumnus was thrown from his board after a long day of water sports, the vest wasn't enough to keep him afloat.

His friends and coworkers on the boat tried to retrieve Puckett, but he had slipped under the water, and they could not find him, recounted his brother Johnathan Puckett.

"He didn't come up," his brother said. "They spent a long time trying to find him."

Family and friends discovered that the life vest Adam Puckett was wearing at the time of his death was not U.S. Coast Guard approved, and while it boasted some floatation ability, it wasn't enough to keep him above water.

"I think people have a huge misconception about this type of vest," Jonathan Puckett said. "It's really scary how they don't have any warnings at all. I would really like people to know about that vest, all vests that aren't Coast Guard approved. If you're going to get something like that, at least know that you're risking your life every time you wakeboard or do any water sport."

The life jacket Adam Puckett wore was an impact vest, according to Sgt. Rachel Zechenelly, boating education coordinator for the enforcement division of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. She said the vest, designed to reduce trauma when someone hits the water, is not guaranteed to offer floatation.

Kevin Kelly, recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard, said an important safety step for people to take when boating is to know the types of jackets and when boarding a friend's boat to check and make sure they can locate the vests and that there is one they can wear.

The Coast Guard has five approved types of life jackets, each offering a different kind of protection, Zechenelly said. Approved vests should contain a tag that identifies its type and the amount of weight it can support, she said. State law requires that anyone participating in water sports like waterskiing or wakeboarding wear an approved life jacket.

It is possible for someone who is not familiar with the differences to confuse a non-approved jacket with a Coast Guard approved jacket, she said.

And that's what the Puckett family is trying to figure out.

"They say it's not Coast Guard approved," Jonathan Puckett said. "What does that really mean? People don't know what that really means."

Kelly said the winter season is the best time for boating enthusiasts to hone their safety skills by attending a class.

The Wildlife and Fisheries department offers safety classes year-round across the state for people to learn about boating and water sport safety, Zechenelly said.

She also said a state law enacted in 2003 requires anyone born after Jan. 1, 1988, to attend a boating safety class to operate any vessel that is more than 10 horsepower.

Kelly and Zechenelly agree that as more people learn about the risks associated with boating, a reduction in boating fatalities is possible.

And Jonathan Puckett wants others to learn about the different types of life vests to help prevent another tragedy like his brother's death.

"I really want to get the word out," he said.

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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2007 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for your loss...
I have this same conversation with friends who dont want to wear gear on motorcycles. I have ridden for 26 years and been down plenty of times in the dirt and one hard crash on the street. My Gloves, jacket and pants did their job and I walked away.... helmet never touched the ground. People have a not going to happen to me mentality about this kind of stuff. A wind breaker and sweat pants don't do anything when it comes to road rash. hopefully the tragedy of your brothers accident with help educate others so that they at least know what to look for. I'm going to take a look at the one I use in the boat next time I go.

Dave Twisted Evil

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PostPosted: Sep 27, 2007 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike O, In VA we dont have to wear a vest if we have a spotter (3rd person) or mirror of a certain size.
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PostPosted: Sep 27, 2007 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not required in tennessee either.
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All persons being towed behind a vessel on water-skis or any other device must wear an adequate and effective life preserver, buoyant vest, or life-belt. If the device worn by the skier is not U.S. Coast Guard-approved, then an approved PFD must be on board the towing vessel.
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PostPosted: Sep 27, 2007 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We can start by not confusing "Life preservers" with "Comp vests".

Puck3tt, I am very sorry for your loss, and I applaud the way you are handling the situation.

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