You don’t need to be a big wave rider to worry about personal safety. Shane Dorian and Billabong have just announced their “V1” inflatable wetsuit. While they have no immediate plans to make the wetsuit available to the general surfing community, one would assume an email asking them to do so may show them there is general interest in this device.
After a near-drowning incident in 2010, big wave legend Shane Dorian wondered if he would ever be able to face 50-foot-plus waves again. But today Dorian is back out in the largest surf he can find, thanks to greater peace of mind provided by his new invention. Working together with Billabong Wetsuits and Mustang Survival Corporation, Dorian created the first wetsuit with a built-in instantly inflatable air bladder. With a quick tug on a ripcord, the wetsuit quickly lifts the wearer from deep underwater to the surface.
The new suit has been dubbed the “Billabong V1” with the V standing for Vertical ascent and the 1 indicating positive altitude, or one foot above sea level.
Dorian, from Kona, Hawaii, is widely regarded as the best big wave surfer in the world today, having paddled into a half dozen of the most amazing waves ever ridden in the last 18 months alone. But it was one of the waves he wiped out on which made the biggest impression on the 38-year-old father of two.
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