SLSNZ high visibility vests

Clarification of what is required for the 2017/18 season

As set out in the Surf Sport Competition Manual it is mandatory for all competitors to wear high visibility vests in competition (excluding pool-based events and IRB Events).  Note that with the introduction of mandatory Lifejackets to IRB racing and training then high visibility vests are not required while wearing a lifejacket (refer to policy SPS010 for full details)  It is also highly recommended that all members wear high visibility vests in training or activities in open water environments deeper than knee level.

Technical Colour Standards

To avoid any doubt about whether a colour is 'high visibility' or not, specific PMS colour standards have now been identified, as set out below.

Also, for the 2016/17 season and beyond the colour highly recommended above all others is Fluorescent Yellow. (PMS #13-0630 TN 'Safety Yellow')

If for some reason this is not suitable, the other recommended colours are:

  • Fluorescent Pink (PMS #16-2130 TN 'Knockout Pink')
  • Fluorescent Green (PMS#13-0340 TN 'Green Gecko')
  • Fluorescent Red (PMS#485C)

It is requested that from 2016/17 clubs do not use Fluorescent Orange (PMS# 15-1360-TN 'Shocking orange') as this will be used by Event Safety Teams for in-water searches.

SLSNZ has in place a 'guidelines for safety vests' based on a 'singlet' style of design that clubs can refer to (available on the SLSNZ website).  Please note it remains the clubs responsibility that the vests they supply their athletes are 'fit for purpose' (i.e. high visibility assist with competitor identification when in the water). This is particularly important for junior members where there is a higher duty of care required.  Equally, if any event organisers are supplying vests then they will be the ones ultimately accountable of the 'fitness for purpose'.  Short sleeve and long sleeve rash tops may also be worn as long as they meet the technical specifications above.

Ruling on vest standards

Perhaps most importantly, Surf Officials will still not be asked to make calls on the start line as to the 'fitness for purpose' of high visibility vests being worn by athletes unless they are clearly not high visibility or not wearing a vest at all.   This is because of the impracticality of surf officials measuring the area of fluoro material and its brightness.  As such, to repeat the message above, the responsibility for 'fitness for purpose' rests back with whoever supplies the vests to the athletes - typically their club or in a few cases the event organisers.  

Officials will be asked to report any concerns of vest standard of clubs to SLSNZ to complete a discussion with that club on their vest standards.

Available documents:

Background Information:

SLSNZ will continue to provide guidelines for those seeking advice:

  • As noted earlier, clubs will be solely responsible for the 'fitness for purpose' of the vests they supply their members;
  • Event organisers will be solely responsible for the 'fitness for purpose' of the vests they supply competitors;
  • Surf Officials will not be asked to make calls on the start line as to the 'fitness for purpose' of high visibility vests being worn by athletes. Their only role will be to assess whether a vest of some high visibility description is being worn or not.

The advantages of this are:

  • Flexibility for clubs;
  • It is in line with the approach clubs have asked SLSNZ to take on 'Member Protection' in general - whereby guidelines are provided to clubs rather than mandated actions.
  • There is no need to develop a large manual of specifications for a wide variety of styles of vests that could be continuously challenged;
  • There is no need to set up a certification/ testing regime to validate the acceptability of each new club vest design;
  • There are no additional pressure placed on Event Officials;
However, the responsibility that goes with this flexibility has to be seen to be taken seriously by clubs.  If there is evidence that clubs are supplying vests that are not truly 'fit for purpose' or are not replacing them before they become too faded then SLSNZ may need to step in and mandate colours and dimensions.

In general, event safety is an area that is constantly evolving so SLSNZ and the NSC will be monitoring developments and changes should be expected in the future.