Surf Without Fear of Drowning

ABC News
This Could Be Big

Shane Dorian is one of the most admired and well rounded surfers of the last 20 years. He spent much of the 90's and early 2000's competing on the World Tour against guys like Kelly Slater, and still competes at select events like this year's Pipeline Masters on Oahu.

But since leaving the world tour in 2004 the Hawaiian from the Big Island has shifted his focus to big waves, the ones over 20 feet that occasionally result in a coastal evacuation.

Already an accomplished big wave surfer at breaks like Jaws on Maui, and Teahupoo in Tahiti, he took a wipeout at Mavericks in Northern California in 2010 that nearly killed him and changed his perspective on big wave surfing.

Rattled after nearly drowning on the wave, he called Hub Hubbard, Billabong's wetsuit designer based in Ventura, California and told him about an idea to equip a wetsuit with an inflatable bladder that quickly shots to the surface once a rip cord is pulled.

Caught off guard by the idea, Hub got to work putting together a design. He teamed up with Mustang Survival to design the inflatable bladder, and then produced several rounds of prototypes until Billabong came up with the V1 wetsuit.

When Shane took the V1 into the ocean and deployed the bladder for the first time, he shot up to the surface and knew this would change big wave surfing.

Shane is still the only surfer to have used the wetsuit in surf, but the first batch of suits goes out to several other big wave surfers this year.