Better driver protection

The enclosed cockpit and canopy design is now approaching its 30th year of development, and the materials and design have undergone tremendous advancements from the first models, which, in fact, also saved lives immediately upon their introduction. The core material improvement, coupled with carbon and Kevlar, provides improved strength while also reducing weight. The canopy lid that covers the driver also retains the strength of an enclosed cockpit. The latching mechanisms and hinges have been continually refined to withstand the impact of a crash and then still open easily to allow the driver to exit. Wrapping the driver in a strong, egg-like structure is only good, though, if the driver is properly held in place. So the driver’s seat has padding and support to withstand the rigors of racing and reduce shock to the spine. The restraint belts are positioned precisely in order to minimize movement of the driver in a crash situation. There have been a lot of advances with head and neck restraints to minimize the potential of whiplash and undue strain on the neck. The interesting thing is that these devices, which may sound cumbersome to wear, actually make it easier to drive the boat, allowing the performance of the boat and driver to improve. And what if the boat is upside down and the cockpit fills with water? The manufacturers of the driver’s air system continually refine their helmet and air mask systems to improve comfort and ensure that they will function if needed.

In our next two post we will focus on the Rules.

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