Billabong V1 Big Wave Wetsuit Wins Innovation Awards
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA — (November 16, 2011) — Only months after being unveiled to the public, the Billabong V1 inflatable big wave wetsuit has received a pair of prestigious awards for design innovation. Popular Science magazine has bestowed its Best of What’s New Award on the wetsuit while National Geographic Adventure magazine has given it their “Gear of the Year” honors.
The Billabong V1 (for “vertical ascent’) wetsuit was conceived by Hawaiian big wave surfer Shane Dorian following a near-lethal wipeout last year at the notorious Maverick’s break near San Francisco, California. Billabong wetsuit product manager Hub Hubbard worked with the world’s top maritime safety product manufacturer, Mustang Survival, to develop a suit with an integrated inflatable flotation bladder and CO2 cartridge that can be activated with a tug on a pull-cord. By assisting a surfer to reach the surface more swiftly after a severe wipeout, Dorian has called the V1 suit a “game-changer” in terms of big wave safety.
Dorian successfully tested prototypes of the device last winter in huge surf at Jaws, on Maui, Hawaii and at the legendary Cortes Bank, 100 miles off the California coast. The V1 wetsuit is now in limited production and being distributed to the world’s top big wave riders. It is not being sold to the general public at this time. A patent on the invention is currently pending.
“For 23 years, Popular Science has honored the innovations that surprise and amaze us – those that make a positive impact on our world today and challenge our views of what’s possible in the future,” said Mark Jannot, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science. “The Best of What’s New Award is the magazine’s top honor, and the 100 winners – chosen from among thousands of entrants – represent the highest level of achievement in their fields.”
In addition to making Nat Geo Adventure’s Gear of the Year list, the Billabong V1 wetsuit has also been featured in an array of other top publications in the last several months including Men’s Journal, Outside, and France’s L’Equipe.
“It’s sort of strange that the suit has received so much attention considering I am the only one who has tested it so far,” said Dorian. “The biggest thing for me is seeing the list of people that have ordered their suits for this winter season. It includes nearly all the greatest big wave riders from all over the world. These guys consistently push their own personal limits and it is our goal to help them continue to do that while adding an element of safety we have never had until now. People have to always remember that riding big waves – with or without this new suit, which isn’t fail safe – carries tremendous risk. But it has helped me get out of a couple of very heavy situations and hopefully it can help others too.”
Billabong USA Vice President of Marketing Graham Stapelberg applauded the new V1 honors and the creative collaboration that brought the suit to life.
“These awards are certainly a validation of the vision, time and effort put into the V1 wetsuit by both Shane Dorian and Hub Hubbard,” said Stapelberg. “Safety in big waves should always be the first priority, and for this reason Billabong is very proud to be associated with such an innovative product.”