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Stand Up Paddleboard Owner's Manual

Congratulations on your new stand up paddleboard! We have put together a list of best practices that will help you store, maintain, and enjoy your new board for years to come.This however is a living breathing document so please do send us any ideas on things to add or change to make it useful for all stand up paddlers. Send any and all input to

Storing Your Board
  • The Sun is your enemy. More precisely the sun’s Ultra Violet (UV) rays. Carbon Fiber boards, particularly ones that are not painted completely, are more at risk. UV expedites the aging process. Covering your board will protect it from UV but caution must be used to ensure you are not making the board too hot.
    • Leaving your board in the sun all day on the beach should be avoided if the board is not in use. This is especially true for inflatables. If your board has a removable vent plug, and you must leave it in the sun for an extended period of time, then consider removing the plug. Make sure to re-insert the plug before putting the board back in the water. Note Gore-Tex self-regulating vent plugs should almost never be messed with.
  • Impact is your enemy. Even the best made boards can be dinged. Quite often damage is caused not by use, but by a less than ideal storage situation. Car doors and falling bikes account for many dings. Using board bags and purpose built storage racks is a good idea.
  • Board Bags. We recommend most boards be bagged. Particularly boards that spend a great deal of time on the car top. The weak link of a low cost board bag is cheap zippers. Sadly a broken zipper is expensive to fix and somewhat ruins the bag if not working. Things to consider in a board bag
    • Thickness of foam inside the bag
      • 2-3mm = Day bag
      • 3-6mm = Tough bag
      • 6-10mm = Travel Bag
  • Coffin style board bags are the easiest bags to place a board into. Coffin means the zipper runs the entire perimeter of the bag allowing the board to be placed in the bag from the top rather than inserted from the end. They are usually a bit more expensive due to the bigger zipper.
  • Board Socks or covers are great for UV protection and offer a lightweight easy to use solution. The ding protection however is not as good as day bags.
  • Vented board bags are better than non-vented board bags when the bags will be exposed to high heat environments.
  • Gusseted bags allow for a tighter fit minimizing wind noise while driving. Gussets are straps on the bags side that allow a more custom fit.
  • Keep your zippers well rinsed with fresh water to stop salt build up/frozen zippers.
  • Fresh water can cause mold and mildew so make sure to dry out your gear before storing when freshwater is in the mix.
  • The best bag in the world will not guarantee a safe airplane flight.
  • Never put a wet board into a board bag and then allow direct sunlight on the bag. This can ruin the paint on the board.
  • We recommend rail taping all boards. This helps when setting the board down on its rail.
Car topping
  • We recommend that boards are placed nose forward fin up position for most boards.
    • Option 2 is with the fin forward and the deck facing up.
    • SAFETY NOTE - Long boards or long drives. You should strongly consider a line from the front of the car attached to the leash plug on the board. This insures the board will not fly off the car in the event the rack fails.
  • Double check your racks attachment to the car. Having a professional, like the guys at Rack and Road in San Rafael install your rack is a good call.
  • Racks should always be padded even when using a board bags.
  • Cam Straps should always go around the rack bars and not the rails or feet of the racks. The straps should come down near the board’s sides with as little gap as possible.(see photo above)
  • Cam Strap buckles should be placed, and kept near the middle of the board. They should never be near the rail. The photo above is as close to the edge as they should ever get. Pulling on a cam strap buckle located on the rail of the board can result in damage. In the photo at top they are OK but we'd prefer to see them in the middle.
    • Trick – Intentionally put one or two twists in the strap that does not have the cam buckle. This will help stop it vibrating like a guitar string when driving.
    • SAFETY NOTE - Cam Straps should be proactively replaced as they age or wear.
  • Never place a board on top of a car without immediate plans to get a strap on it. We have proven driving away with a board that is not strapped down is bad.
    • Be mindful of wind when loading a board on the car. They are light and can easily blow off the top.
  • Do not over tension the cam strap. This is not a lumber run from Home Depot. Over tightening your strap can damage your board. The boards should be firmly strapped but do not crank on the strap too hard.
  • Stacking boards should be done with strong foam separation between the two boards. Stacking two boards without this is going to damage one. This is particularly true for displacement hull stand up paddleboards.
  • Be aware of your new height profile. With your board on your roof and the fin pointed up you may not make it under that overhang in your life. Driving in to your garage with the board on the roof can be unpleasant at best.
  • Be aware when strapping down your board it’s the people behind you at the greatest risk. All you lose is a board but it could seriously hurt a following motorist.
  • If possible you should consider adding a line that attaches the nose of the board to the front of the car.
  • Strongly consider the Yakima SUP Dawg. We find it to be the best SUP carrier on the market.
Using Your Board
  • Vent Plugs can be found on many boards. See photos above.
    • Gore-Tex - If your board has a self-regulated vent plug you should not mess with it. Bubbles coming out of the vent are normal and a sign the board is equalizing its internal pressure
    • Removable Vent Plugs – Remove these plugs when sending boards to altitude like Tahoe or for airplane travel.
  • It’s a good idea – but not totally necessary – to fresh water rinse a board after use. If you use a board bag you should try to avoid putting salty boards in the bag. Never put a wet board in a board bag and then allow direct sunlight to hit it. This can ruin the boards paint.
  • Deck Pads. Try to avoid scraping the deck pad. Keeping the deck pad from getting too hot is a good idea. Deck pads can bubble when exposed to high heat over a long period of time.
  • Waxing a board with a Turtle wax, or a similar wax, once a year is not a bad idea.
  • Traveling with boards requires extra attention to packing. Airlines are notorious for damaging boards. Be sure you know all your airlines restrictions before you get to the airport. Write down the names & phone numbers of people you talk to that promise you anything with respect to these restrictions.
  • We recommend rail taping all boards. This helps when setting the board down on its rail. We further recommend you do not apply this yourself. It’s a skill that requires practice and a bad application can potentially strip your board of paint or decals or both.
  • Be careful when setting your paddleboard on the ground. Sharp objects can pierce the hull. Rail tape helps a lot for those temporary rests on the rail.
  • Always write your name and phone number on all your watersports gear. This is an important point of safety. The US Coast Guard implores us to do this to prevent unneeded searching when lost gear is found floating around.
  • Always write your name & phone # on your paddle. Many look alike and are often left behind.
  • If you have a surfing style SUP, where the deck pad is not full length, consider adding traction spray to the nose. It will increase the amount of board you can use to aid in catching waves.
  • This is a small section for a big issue. Please read our complete water safety section on our website.
  • File a float plan. This means let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back.
  • Try to paddle with a buddy.
  • Take a communication device with you. As in radio or cell phone.
  • Always wear the right gear for the day. click here for more info on what to wear stand up paddleboarding.
  • Know you weather. Always know the weather forecast for your specific paddling area. Always stay alert for changes despite whatever that forecast told you.
  • Know your tides
  • Always Wear Leash on your board. This is an ALWAYS not a sometimes. Make sure your leash is well connected to your board and yourself.
  • Always have a Lifejacket with you. The surf zone may be the one exception
  • You are a mariner now. Perhaps taking some seamanship classes is a good idea? Do you know what “Red, Right, Return” means. You should.
  • Keep a high state of 306 degree situational awareness at all times. Be aware of your surroundings and make safety your first priority. Things can come up from behind you.
  • Boats and basically everything else on the water has the right of way over a paddleboarder. Stay clear.
  • Label your gear with your name and contact information.
  • When in doubt don’t go out.
  • More complete safety section click here
Dinged Paddleboard?
  • Scratches – Scratches are just cosmetic and do not materially affect performance. Some tricks for dealing with scratches;
    • Light Scratch – Try rubbing it with a wet Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Make sure the eraser stays wet and do not over rub the area. Do not use
    • Deep Scratch – Consider a enamel nail polish to color match and seal
    • Stains or discolorations - First try rubbing compound applied very carefully in a small test area. If that does not work try 1000 wet dry sandpaper. WARNING – over sanding or over use of rubbing compound can remove the clear coat or paint layers on your board making a scratch a bigger cosmetic issue than it was to start.
  • Pressure Dents – The general rule of thumb is never break the skin of your board as long as it’s sealed. This means 9 time out of 10 you should do nothing to a pressure dent. Pressure dents usually do not materially affect performance.
  • You got a Ding? A ding is by definition a breach of the boards outer skin.
    • The key to all dings is to keep water out of the core of the board. Do not go in the water without first sealing the wound. Temporary Fixes that keep you riding include
      • Puka Patches (You should never be without these)
      • Dingle Berries / Two Part Epoxy Putty (this should always come with you on any trip)
  • Repairs usually take 3-4 weeks and cost from $75-$200
  • No board should be sealed until the core is dry as possible. It’s important that if water is in your board core that you dry it as much as possible. Sealing the board with water in it and then exposing it to sun/heat can result in delamination – see below.
  • Delamination – Delamination is when the skin of the board detaches from the core. Many times the board is still water tight. It is normally not worth repairing delaminated boards. It’s a like a short tailed dog chasing its tail. Futile, costly, and can expedite the end of the board. We suggest you keep riding it until it dies. Note that delaminated boards are more likely to break as there structure has been violated.
  • Fins are a very important part of your board’s performance. They can however be dangerous so always be weary of their sharp edges and pointy tops and bases.
    • Do not stand your board on your fin. This can bend the fin – particularly a fiberglass fin that has been in the sun.
    • Lay your board deck down when leaving it on the ground with the fin pointed up or on its side. Make sure to place something on the fin (foam block or cover) to protect anyone from falling on the fin.

Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard Owners Manual

Like any piece of gear, it will treat you as well as you treat it. We love our gear and with that said we wanted to share all the lessons we have learned over the years so you can maximize your Inflatable stand up paddleboard. We’ve been known to be a bit over the top when it comes to putting together our owner’s manuals. Our theory is that it is better said than not. We have been super impressed with the innovation in the inflatable SUP’s. 

A couple of quick things to think about before buying an inflatable stand up paddleboard:

  • Go thin to win. If you are not over 175lbs you should strongly consider a 4.75-5-inch sidewall model. The 6” models will be less stable and more susceptible to wind than the thinner models. Heavier riders will need to go with a 6” thick board to optimize stiffness.
  • Accessories Matter. Does it have a good bag? A good bag can be a large part of enjoying your board. A quality pump is another big deal.
  • Fin Box systems can be proprietary. You are better off getting a model with a standard US Box. That way replacement fins are easy to come by.
  • Weight matters - the more expensive models are dramatically lighter than the less expensive ones.

Tips for Caring for your board to ensure a long life
  • Do not leave the board in the sun when not being used. Leaving the board in the shade when not in use is critical. With air pressure so high, prolonged exposure to the sun can cause the board to warp or twist. What is happening is that the drop stich fibers are dropping as their glue can melt. Also, most boards are made with PVC and or Hypalon - both of which prematurely age as they are exposed to UV.
  • It’s okay to leave the board inflated – in fact we recommend it rather than rolling it and putting it away. If leaving the board inflated but not in use, it's best to take the pressure down to 10 lbs, and then top off to the manufacturer's specifications when using the board next time.
  • Never over-inflate your board. Doing so can cause irreparable damage.
  • Be careful if using inflator valves and/or compressors. These can easily over inflate your board.
  • A freshwater rinse is recommended after use. Storing the board salty can shorten its life span.
  • Let the board dry before rolling up for storage. A wet board in the bag that is then left in the sun breaks down the board. Putting a wet freshwater board in the bag can create mold.
  • When putting your board away roll it in the same direction every time. Consider using something like a pool noodle to start the rolling process. Avoid folding in such a way that the board seams are creased.
  • Never use anything to expedite deflation. We have seen countless threads sucked back through the valve.
  • Do not do the 'roll two times to pack up'. Press the air out by keeping the board flat. The message here is that you should try to minimize how many times you roll it up.
  • Make sure to use and move every zipper on your bag. Leaving a zipper stationary for too long can result in a frozen zipper.
  • Hear a small leak in your valve? Use the wrench that should have come in your repair kit in order to tighten the valve and stop the leak.This valve is called a Halkey Roberts and is used on most inflatables. (pictured at right)

How to repair your inflatable stand up paddleboard
  • Use soapy water in a spray bottle to assess whether you have a slow leak.
  • Make sure any area needing repair is surgically clean before applying any patch.
  • Significantly rough up the area around the repair and on the bottom of the patch. Use 60 grit paper and really rough it up. This texture is necessary to create a mechanical bond on your repair. The rouging area and the patch should extend at least 2 inches around the troubled area.
  • If you do not have the glue repair kit that came with your board then we recommend using 3M 5200 FAST. Do not use the 24-hour cure - it must be the FAST cure version.
  • Make sure the board is repaired in an environment that is at least 70 degrees. If it’s too cold the glue does not fire as well.
  • If possible, try to do the repair with the board totally deflated. If you must, place 1-3lbs of air in it to help give it some structure; for example if the repair is on a corner.
  • Use weight or clamps to hold the patch on during the full time required for the glue to cure.
  • Before applying the patch warm the area and the patch with a hair dryer. Just make it warm – not hot. This will help the glue fire.
  • Do not use too much glue. More is not better. Do make sure the glue is spread evenly and completely covers the patch and the repair area.
  • After the initial patch dries, finish with a full bead of 3M 5200 around the seam of the repair area. Think like caulking a bath tub.

With proper care your board will give you years of enjoyment. If you have any tips please feel free to share them by reaching out to us by email at and we will add your best practices to our list.

Below find a few basic how to videos from two of the best inflatable paddleboard manufactures on the market. Starboard and Red Paddle Co.

How to inflate your inflatable stand up paddleboard


How to replace, repair, or tighten your valve.


Looking to buy an inflatable stand up paddleboard. Shop our online section where many ship for free: Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard Shop

Surfski Owner's Manual

Congratulations on owning the fastest paddle craft on the San Francisco Bay!
Surfskis are tons of fun and great exercise and your surfski will last a lifetime if you look after it.

Epic Surfskis come in four construction types. The V5 and V7 are made from rotomolded polyethylene with a proprietary core technology. The rest of the line-up of Epic kayaks are made with strong, durable, lightweight materials including carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass and a specially formulated epoxy resin which is stronger and tougher than polyester or vinyl ester resin. Epic's sandwich core construction process with these materials ensures our kayaks are noticeably lighter than any of the competition. Epoxy resin is infused into our kayaks under full vacuum. This eliminates voids and produces Epic's signature high strength and lightweight standards. After infusion, our boats are post-cured at elevated temperatures to create the strongest and lightest kayaks on the market.

Rinsing your surfski with fresh water is always a good idea. Scum build up can be removed gently with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser and rinsed with fresh water.

There are two schools of thought about whether waxing your surfski is a good idea. It will certainly protect the gelcoat finish, but may potentially slow you down. Read a fascinating article about the debate HERE. There is no doubt that using wax or a UV protectant such as 303 will keep it looking like new.

Keeping sand out of the tracks for the adjustable footboard is key to its functionality and durability. A light spray of the tracks with Dry Silicone Spray will help to keep it working smoothly.

Adjusting the rudder lines couldn't be simpler. Here's a great video from Epic Kayaks on setting up and adjusting your rudder.

Epic Surfskis are built to the highest standards and are as tough as any other brand on the market but even so accidental damage can occur. All construction types are repairable but we recommend seeking professional advice. 101 Surf Sports offers a full repair service. Shoot us an email ( with some images of the damage and we will be able to give you a rough estimate and a more accurate estimate once we see the ski in person.

Storage and transportation of your surfski are where most of the damage occurs. Store your kayak UPSIDE DOWN on its deck, utilizing the rigid shape of the cockpit and the curvature of the back of the seat as the locations to set foam blocks on the ground or on a rack. Even better, hang your ski up in the garage out of the way using straps or a hoist system.

Foam blocks or rack pads are the best way to transport your surfski on your vehicle. Again transport it upside down. The further you have the cross bars apart on your vehicle the more secure the surfski will be in crosswinds. Bow and stern lines are a good idea if your bars are close together but be extremely careful to avoid over tightening them.

Avoid leaving your surfski on the roof of your vehicle in hot weather and direct sunlight. High temperatures can cause the polyethylene plastic or epoxy to literally melt and cause significant damage to your surfski. A boat cover will help to avoid your ski overheating, and make sure to loosen the tension on any straps if leaving your surfski on a vehicle in direct sunlight for any length of time. Remember to tighten them again before you drive away!

If you have any questions about looking after your Epic Surfski, shoot us an email (

Wetsuit Owner's Manual

The wetsuit is one of the key pieces of gear for any water sports lover in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here are some tricks of the trade for keeping your wetsuit in best possible shape. We are bit fanatical about our suits so apologies for the level of detail.

  • Always store & dry your wetsuit inside out. This helps minimize UV damage to the outside of the suit while also giving priority drying time to the part that will be touching your skin the next time you use the suit. Drying them inside out also helps with stink management as interior liners can get better and thorough dry time. This technique also ensures no nasty spider bites.
  • Always use a broad hanger if you need to hang it up. Narrow or wire hangers can create creases/breaks in the shoulders.
  • Never use propellant based sunscreens. Stay only with cream sunscreens. Never use “quick dry” sunscreen. The problem with the propellant sunscreen and the quick dry is the use of alcohol. Alcohol can overtime literally melt your wetsuit.
  • Try to freshwater rinse after use. Make sure to dry thoroughly for any storage. Freshwater rinsing is more likely to create stink than a wet saltwater wetsuit. It is okay to not rinse the wetsuit if you plan on using it multiple days in a row. Just do not let a saltwater saturated wetsuit dry out without a rinse. This is the single biggest trick to keeping your suit nice for a long time. Drying things with salt is called "curing".
  • Do not lay your wetsuit on hot surfaces and always keep it out of the UV/sun when possible.
  • Do not use hot water to rinse your suit. Warm up to 120 degrees is okay - but no hotter.
  • Take your time putting your suit on. Do not use your fingernails when pulling a suit on.
  • Do not store your suit near auto exhaust. Like in the garage. The fumes will over time eat away at the suit.
  • Do not store in a trunk or any other area that gets really hot. Think melting glue.
  • Never crease or fold the wind panels (smooth skin) on the suit. Wind panels are the slicker material usually used around the core. These panels are designed to block wind. These panels however are more fragile than the rest of the suit. Avoid using fingernails or anything sharp near these.
  • Use a changing mat when taking your suit off so that it does not get roughed up on the ground. Take your time – do not rush yank a suit off.
    • Use a changing robe. This helps you slow down.
  • Never put a wetsuit in a washing machine or a dryer.
  • No ironing. No bleaches.
  • Do not pee in your suit. Seriously this is bad for the suit and a prime source of the stink.
  • Never leave the zipper in the very bottom of the zipper channel.
  • Do not let zippers freeze – dry salty. If you haven’t used a suit in a while go and move its zipper to keep it free flowing.
  • Zippers go straight up and straight down. Never pull your zipper from and angle.
  • If you are using a suit in a pool with chlorine or bromine or any other chemical make sure to give it a solid fresh water rinse as soon as you can.
  • For packing a wetsuit cross the arms and then the legs and roll the suit starting from the legs. This will minimize the creasing of the wind panel if you need to pack it in luggage.
  • If your suit does get stinky we recommend Mirazyme. You can get some here at the store.
    • Superstinky? Then mix one cup of White Cider Vinegar per 1 gallon of water and soak for one hour. We use this to cure stinky booty. Rinse thoroughly after.
    • Superduperstinky. Pour the White Cider Vinegar directly on the booties (not recommended for suits) and let soak 10 minutes. Now add the 1 gallon of water per cup of White Cider Vinegar and let soak overnight. Rinse thoroughly after.
    • Note your suit will smell a little like vinegar but it goes away and is way better than the other stink.
    • Baking soda is also an option.
    • Listerine can be the “nuclear option”.
  • Secure the collar tag on its parking space. This hook part of the Velcro can wear out snagging things it shouldn’t be snagging. The suit can also be roughed up by this tab if it is not parked.
  • Quickly fix any tears with neoprene cement. We recommend and sell Aquaseal here at the shop. Leaving a slice or tear unattended will just see them get worse quickly.
  • Consider wearing shorts over the top of your wetsuit if you are sailing, windsurfing, or kiteboarding. The non-skid used on the boards can rough up the wetsuit.
  • Never oil or try to lubricate a zipper.

We carry a massive selection of O’Neill Wetsuits and accessories. O’Neill Wetsuit Gloves, Wetsuit Hoods, Booties, and more. They basically invented the wetsuit right here in San Francisco and have been the innovative leaders since. They are still a Santa Cruz based company that is leading the way.

Need some help finding what to wear in a cold pool?

We hope you find these tips handy for taking good care of your wetsuit. Take good care of your gear and it will take good care of you!

Inflatable Lifejacket Owner's Manual
Inflatable pfd1

Waistbelt mounted inflatable life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFD's) have become increasingly popular in recent years in paddlesports. However, without proper maintenance, it may not work when you need it. Federal Boating regulations require that you have a Type 3 life jacket with you when you are on any type of paddlecraft when not in the surf zone. The unobtrusive nature of the inflatable belt pack PFD makes it a great choice for the active paddler, but that unobtrusiveness means that it can be easily overlooked as a vital piece of safety equipment that really could help save your life. Knowing how to operate and take good care of your inflatable PFD may avoid a tragedy and could help you save some dollars too!

There is typically no inherent buoyancy in an inflatable PFD so they are not recommended for non-swimmers or weak swimmers. Users of inflatable PFD's must be at least 16 years old. Because there is no inherent buoyancy you are entirely reliant on the PFD's inflation system functioning when you need it. 

For the PFD to function as designed:

  • the inflation system needs to be armed
  • the wearer needs to know how to operate it
  • the wearer needs to know how to don and then tie-off the inflated lifejacket
  • the bladder needs to hold air

While life jackets are critical we also stress to all paddleboarders that a leash is also just as important. You should also always be carrying a whistle in order to cover all your bases. 

Inflatable like jackets are sold with a CO2 cylinder. The size of the CO2 cylinder depends on the design and volume of the bladder. Smaller volume (16 gram cartridges) life jackets are designed like a pillow and worn on your belly and these require a 16g cylinder. Larger life jackets with bladders that are designed to be put over your head once inflated require a 24 gram cylinder. Larger riders should consider a bigger volume 33 gram PFD. 

Be sure to ARM THE  SYSTEM by screwing in the cylinder as described in the PFD manufacturer's Owners Manual supplied with the PFD. If you are in any doubt as to how do this, be sure to ask your retailer to show you.

A replacement cylinder is typically just a few dollars and so it is well worth the expense to do a test activation of the inflation system to familiarize yourself with what will happen when you pull the tab and how to don the bladder of the larger 24 & 33 gram style PFD's. It should be noted that while many of us wear the belt pack with the pouch of the PFD in the small of our backs, the pouch MUST be positioned in the center front position BEFORE being activated. Activating the PFD with the pouch behind you could result in you being unable to float on your back and even worse being held face down. We recommend you replace your cartridge every 2-3 years whether you think it needs it or not. We've included a video that shows some proper techniques for using and maintaining your PFD.

inflatable pfd2  

To avoid the expense of a replacement CO2 cylinder you can use the oral inflation tube to familiarize yourself with how to don the PFD, how it feels in the water when inflated and how to deflate the system. Practice a deep-water self-recovery with your board or kayak wearing the inflated PFD. You may find that the technique you would typically use to climb back on your board or kayak is not so easy with a fully inflated PFD and your technique may need some modification to make it successful.

The other reason to use the oral inflator is to regularly test the bladder of the PFD for leaks. Carefully rinsing inside the pouch of the PFD with freshwater after each use should remove most salt, sand or grit but once in a while (every two months) open up the pouch and orally inflate the bladder and leave it inflated for sufficient time (overnight) to check for slow leaks.

inflatable pfd3

Periodically check the condition of the threaded fitting of the CO2 cylinder to the arming mechanism. Replace the CO2 cylinder if there is excessive corrosion. Note there is usually a green or red indicator that alerts you only if the the pull cord has been tugged. This DOES NOT guarantee the cartridge is good when it is green. Again please proactively change your cartridges every so often. 

For storage make sure that the PFD is dry to avoid mold and corrosion around the threaded fitting of CO2 cylinder. Avoid leaving the bladder exposed to UV, chemicals or vehicle exhaust. A freshwater rinse followed by a thorough drying is recommended should the vest get wet with salt water. 

The popularity of inflatable PFD's has likely resulted in many more paddlers being happy to wear a PFD and thus made a positive contribution to water safety. Please ensure that your inflatable PFD will work when you need it!

If you have any questions, or for a free inspection of your inflatable PFD, don't hesitate to call us at 101 Surf Sports: 415-524-8492 or email:

Coast Guard PFD Type designations.