I read this tragic story today, "Several Surfers Are Found Dead in the Netherlands" which raised some questions about surfing and personal flotation devices (PFDs).
Some relevant quotes from the article:
Five surfers drowned off the coast of the Dutch beach resort of Scheveningen after they were caught in strong winds and foamy waters...
...the thick foam made it especially difficult for those who had fallen from their boards to return to shore.
...three [of the victims] are believed to be seasoned surfers who were professional trainers in open water swimming...
I am not extremely knowledgeable in surfing. I had the (perhaps incorrect) impression that the surfboard was itself the main PFD that a surfer would have, and that normally no other life-jacket would be worn. Partly I had this idea because I thought the surfer would be tethered to the board and I imagined that in cases of rough water or falls the tether would essentially keep your PFD within reach.
The article however makes it seem like some victims might have gotten detached from their boards, or perhaps I misunderstand how that works.
Is a surfboard considered a lifesaving device? Do surfers normally wear or carry some other type of PFD, or is that recommended?
Inferring from the article it seems like the conditions may have been extremely unusual and difficult - maybe unpredictably. It also says nothing about whether PFDs were used, or failed, or anything about that at all. Especially it does not suggest (and nor do I) that any of the victims were at fault. But nonetheless such a tragedy might at least be an opportunity to learn.