Following a near fatal wipe out at the legendary Mavericks surf spot in northern California, professional rider Shane Dorian was inspired to contemplate incorporating an inflating air pocket into his wetsuit to avoid a repeat of being pinned down 25 feet underwater for two waves of a set. Working in collaboration with Billabong’s wetsuit designer Hub Hubbard, and equipment manufacturer Mustang Survival, the Billabong V1 wetsuit concept represents a breakthrough in safety for modern big wave surfing (20ft plus). After surfers pull on a cord, carbon dioxide fills a bladder located on their back with air, propelling them to the surface. The wetsuit is still a prototype being tested at this time, but Dorian claims to have never been pinned underwater for longer than 10 seconds while using this device.
Designed with safety as its first priority, the suit will invariably alter the landscape for big wave surfing, pushing the envelope for what is possible to ride.
See the video below for an interview with Dorian about the idea driving this concept, and footage from the fall.