Following the success of the SL 180, Plastimo launched its successor, the SLR 196 (for “Super Light Racing”), at the beginning of 2022, the result of 18 months of development. The brand’s top-of-the-range lifejacket has been rapidly and massively adopted by racers. “Most of the fleet in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2023 is equipped with it, in each of the classes: Imoca, Ultim, Ocean Fifty, Class40,” points out Frédéric Blaudeau, Plastimo’s marketing and communication director. “In addition, 80% of the crews in the Ocean Globe Race are equipped with the SLR 196 and Plastimo safety equipment.”
To perfect this new model, which erases the few imperfections of its predecessor, Plastimo’s Research and Development Team worked with several ocean racing skippers, including François Gabart. “The feedback from such an elite sailor is so valuable. François made a number of comments, adjustments and quer
The result of this collaborative effort is the SLR 196, which is designed to be ergonomic, strong and particularly light: it weighs only 700 grams, 400g less than the SL 180! “Everything is done to forget you’re wearing it, so that you don’t feel that you’re wearing a lifejacket”, sums up the marketing and communication director.
Yoann Richomme is one of the professional sailors who have adopted Plastimo’s latest product. “It includes everything I need,” comments the skipper of the Imoca Paprec Arkéa. “For example, I like the ultra-fast opening and closing buckle, a bit like an aircraft pilot’s fasten belt, and the fact that it’s so well designed and made from lightweight fabric. There are no hard points or heaviness, it’s really comfortable to wear and dries very quickly. These are just some of the advantages that encourage you to wear it even more. As it’s easy to put on and take off, I sometimes put it on just to get out of the cockpit for a minute.”
Another advantage, according to the two-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, is the fact that the jacket can be quickly deflated when it is triggered, which meets a request expressed by François Gabart, to avoid the risk of getting stuck underwater. In keeping with its focus on innovation for safety, Plastimo has developed the SLR 196 with racers using it in extreme conditions, before offering it to amateurs and yachtmen, whether or not they race.
A guarantee of safety for the latter, who can take advantage of the latest innovations a retail price starting at 180 euros. “Today, we’ve sold just over 2,000 SLR 196 lifejackets in just over 18 months. This is just the beginning, because we’re still in the go to market process. Our long-term goal is to sell them to as many enthusiasts as possible”, says Frédéric Blaudeau. The marketing director of the Lorient-based company adds: “Plastimo celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2023. Since it was founded, the brand has made a point of keeping up with the times, adapting to the needs and developments of the market. This lifejacket is a good example of our approach.”
Photo: Alexis Courcoux / SVR Lazartigue