Conceived by Hawaiian big wave surfer Shane Dorian following a near-lethal wipeout last year at Maverick’s, the Billabong V1 (for “vertical ascent”) inflatable big wave wetsuit has just received a pair of prestigious awards for design innovation.
Popular Science magazine awarded the wetsuit with a “Best of What’s New” Award and National Geographic Adventure magazine has given it their “Gear of the Year” distinction. The Billabong V1 wetsuit has also been featured in other top publications including Men’s Journal, Outside, and France’s L’Equipe.
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 of a pull-cord. The V1 suit assists a surfer to reach the surface more swiftly after a severe wipeout, and has been called a “game-changer” in regards to big wave safety.
At this time, only Dorian has tested the suit. However, he has successfully tested prototypes 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 a list of the world’s top big wave riders have already placed their orders for this winter season. It is not being sold to the general public at this time. A patent on the invention is currently pending.
“These awards are certainly a validation of the vision, time and effort put into the Billabong V1 wetsuit by both Shane Dorian and Hub Hubbard,” said Billabong USA Vice President of Marketing Graham 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.”