Waveski PFD


Is there a reason why waveski guys don’t use PFD’s

I’m a beginner and l think I’ll feel safer in the surf with a PFD.

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Boat type doesn’t matter when you go overboard.


PFD’s are not required in surf or swim zones. For surf areas it might be because a PFD would prevent you from diving under a wave if you were in the water and off your waveski. Have no idea why they are not required in swim areas.

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I have a waveski (am horrible at it) but dont use a PFD, although normally I do for kayaking and canoeing.

Maybe it would inhibit rolling? Or roll you up to a side which you do not want?
Maybe because you surf to look cool and PFDs arent cool? (I suspect this is the answer) (also, the I mean the “general you” not you specifically. most surfers I meet want to look cool while surfing, or at least they act like it)
I dont think there’s a good answer. Wear one if you want!

“Have no idea why they are not required in swim areas.” … because you cant SWIM in a PFD? (at least not meaningfully, and in the surf you often need to dive under a wave). That makes no sense

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I was referring to the official USCG regulations regarding PFDs and vessels. Yes an oil tanker, cabin cruiser, kayak, SUP, wind surfer, and waveskis are all considered vessels by the USCG and almost all states. I was not referring to swimmers. If you were out in flat open water on a waveski you could be cited for not having a PFD, depending on circumstances

Waveskis come from a spin-off of surfing. Typically surfers do not wear a PFD because they cause issues constantly when you are hit by a wave and the PFD takes you away from the board. So I agree it’s pretty much cultural. Lately since surfers have started surfing enormous waves, big wave surfers are wearing inflatable PFDs or floation impact vests. To do high performance turns, arial maneuvers, re-entries etc, on a waveski requires a great deal of flexibility; a PFD just gets in the way so the high level performing wave skiers don’t wear them. On a normal day, surf less than double overhead, if you are fit and a good swimmer in the surf the PFD is just in your way, and you are likely leashed to your board, and you can roll up instantly when capsized. I wear a PFD when surfing by myself on a waveski or if the waves are bigger than ~ 6 ft. You can wear a PFD and be just fine as a beginner, unless you are in Australia or Hawaii no one will call you a kook. Do whatever makes you feel safe. I notice I’m wearing one in my profile picture.

Thanks guys.

I think l will wear one till it gets in my way, or till my confidence is high enough to go without.

Someone mentioned up above but I also should have said that a bulky PFD can be a real pain trying to get out through dumping surf. IF you have a narrow high performance ski you can often spear the wave near the top and blast through or sink the nose and do a duck dive. (I mostly do turtle rolls if the wave is very powerful) Depending on your size and the size of the PFD, the PFD can offer enough drag and buoancy to kill both of those maneuvers. Once you get comfortable you may find not wearing the PFD really boosts your surfing, I’m pretty sure most waveskiers agree. I’m getting older and slower so I wear my PFD pretty often.