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The Spinlock Aero Pro: Foiling America's Cup technology goes mainstream

by Mark Jardine 28 Nov 2016 08:03 GMT 28 November 2016

We spoke with Ash Holmes of Spinlock about the Aero Pro, which is their new buoyancy aid and draws on much of their work with the British America's Cup team, Land Rover BAR, and their previous WING buoyancy aid.

Mark: I can see a lot of what you have done with the Wing previously in this design. Could you tell us about how this has evolved now due to your work with Land Rover BAR?

Ash: Yes, if you look at earlier images of the Land Rover BAR team you'll see they are wearing off-the-shelf Spinlock WING models. We discussed with them about designing a new PFD with the focus of safety, performance and aerodynamics that would actually contribute to their performance rather than being seen as a hindrance.

During the design stage we worked with the sailing team to produce a jacket that is a highly technical item of clothing. The BAR T2 jacket has a lot of features specific for the team but we have taken much of the core development to create the Aero Pro, which is our development for the performance sailor.

Mark: You have clearly put a lot of thought and design work into the jacket and, to the naked eye, it doesn't look like it has 50 Newtons of buoyancy. Where has it all gone?

Ash: The buoyancy foam in the Aero Pro is the same as the Spinlock WING PFD. It is still there, but with the lycra body combined into the PFD you haven't just got a couple of straps securing it, you have the whole jacket molding to your body. We have a slight V-cut on the underside of the jacket for trapezing, as well as the slot for the trapeze hook. The slot is designed to accommodate other sports like Kiteboard and Windsurf racing as well. There are two adjustable straps on the side, however the jacket is designed to be worn like a compression vest, as seen in other sports like running.

Mark: I notice you have used different materials on the rash vest parts of the Aero Pro. What was the thinking behind that?

Ash: We have gone for a thicker material than a standard rash vest as we know durability is very important. We have also used hard-wearing materials in the key wear areas such as the shoulders and down the torso.

Mark: With sailing now going foiling in a number of classes, you have also incorporated impact protection in the Aero Pro. Could you explain a bit about what you have done in this area?

Ash: With the Land Rover BAR team, protection is very important and they wanted something that would protect their back in particular. We used the D3O® shock absorbing back protector ** which protects your spine. We created a slot on the inside of the jacket where the D3O® pad is used.

We also have the ability to use a hydration pack if the D3O® is not in use, where the event rules allow them or in training. There is a slot on the front of the jacket where the drinking tube can be accessed. When training, you are on the water for long days, and staying hydrated is key for your body and mind. In some events you may not be allowed to use it due to added weight, but for training purposes it is really useful.

Mark: Was the D3O® specifically developed for yourselves or did you find it in use in another market?

Ash: We have looked into another markets, the D3O® pads are used in motorcycling, Defense and Industrial markets as protection due to its weight, flexibility and high shock absorbing property.

Mark: The Aero Pro looks brilliant Ash. Many thanks for your time.

Ash: Thanks Mark.

www.spinlock.co.uk/en/categories/wing-and-foil-pfds/product_groups/pfds

* Due to construction of the jacket, there will be limited availability. If you are interested in the Aero Pro. Please register your interest by emailing Spinlock (ash@spinlock.co.uk)

** D3O is a dilatant non-Newtonian fluid. D3O is a substance used in impact protection due to its energy absorptive properties. In its raw state it flows freely when moved slowly, but on shock, locks together to absorb and disperse energy, before returning to its flexible state.