For 2018 Crewsaver have launched two new Buoyancy aids that are a world away from the uncomfortable, hot and cumbersome PFD's of old. In no small part due to their support of Americas Cup team Artemis Racing, taking lessons learned at the pinnacle of racing, Crewsaver have a new buoyancy aid line up.
The first new buoyancy aid is actually not one but two products, very similar designs with one crucial difference. The Crewsaver 50N Pro comes in two formats the CZ and SZ the options being centre zip (CZ) and side zip (SZ). Rather amusingly the CZ actually has an off-centre zip but none the less the point being the zip is on the front.
Both models of the Pro Buoyancy Aid are made from the same strong but tactile fabric, nicer to touch than jackets of old there is also a mesh air system on the inner back to help keep the sailor cool. The shoulder straps are a welcome development, made from a stretch mesh material they are finally comfortable and manage to hold the jacket close to the body. Side panels are made from the same fabric and both work to keep the buoyancy aid attached to you rather than feeling cumbersome.
Another big development is the sculptured foam inner, Crewsaver say the entire PFD is ergonomic, which it is, this is very much led by the lightweight and softer feel to the foam which is much more contoured than buoyancy aids of years gone by. We have found when you pop either of the 50N Pro's on, they can be easily tweaked by the strap adjustments to your body and one quickly forgets you are wearing it.
The differences between the CZ and SZ versions are found with the front pocket, the SZ gets a full width one whilst the CZ loses some space to the offset zip. The slightly smaller pocket is a compromise for having a front zip, we suspect for those who like to do a buoyancy aid like a jacket rather than over the head, the loss of a small amount of storage will not be an issue.
Which Crewsaver Pro 50N to choose? Frankly, this will come down to personal choice, apart from the colour the only real difference is the zip, if you are an over the head sailor opt for the SZ, if you prefer a slightly more gentile jacket approach the CZ is for you. Either way with a price around £50 this is an awful lot of ergonomic buoyancy aid for the money.
The second launch of 2018 is as close as you can really get to Americas Cup ready. Using the DNA or the Artemis Racing buoyancy aid, Crewsaver has developed the Ergofit 50N. Aimed squarely at the racing dinghy, keelboat and cat sailor the PFD has a lot to offer. Many sailors will not need all of the features, but when you consider the price, it represents a lot for your money.
Highlights include a hidden rear pocket specifically engineered to hold a hydration pack, there is then a route for the hydration tube over the shoulder, protecting it and you from getting caught up mid gybe. For the few that will need it, a removable front pocket can house an air canister and regulator for use in case of being trapped underwater. In the same vein, there is easy access stowage for a line cutter.
The Ergofit 50N is more than a headline grabber with add-ons, the basics of the buoyancy aid are there for the active racing sailor, low profile sculptured design is matched with breathable airflow materials, tough yet tactile fabrics, super comfortable shoulder straps and side panels, both adjustable and a large slimline front pocket. The biggest news is the PFD is lightweight, tough and about as tailored to the body as can be.
There is an option to add in Forcefield armour, we have not had a chance to try this but suspect it will appeal to a relatively small group of sailors. As soon as we get some feedback we will update this blog.
Price wise Crewsaver has pitched the Ergofit 50N Buoyancy Aid in a competitive market but offered more for the money. In all, the upgrade is going to be irresistible for some, we suspect the hydration pack will be more useful than you expect as well!