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BoatU.S. names life-jacket contest winners

The BoatU.S. Foundation and Underwriters Laboratories recently announced the winners of their 2011 Innovation in Life Jacket Design Competition.

Of 35 entries (some from as far away as Malaysia), 15 semifinalists were selected and short videos of the designs were posted online for the public to pick their favorites. In addition, expert judges voted for their favorite designs at the recent International Boating and Water Safety Summit in Savannah, Ga.

The combined votes resulted in three winners:

First Place: The "See-Tee," a design from Jeff Betz of Troy, N.Y.-based Float-Tech Inc. The Sea-Tee is a standard rash-guard shirt that many water sports enthusiasts are used to wearing, but with a twist. It has a built-in inflatable bladder, similar to most inflatable life jackets.

The company received the $5,000 first-place prize, which was awarded by Underwriters Laboratories.

Second Place: The "Float Coat," by the Directors Bureau, a Los Angeles-based creative consulting company that works in the film industry. The firm took home a $1,000 prize that was provided by the National Safe Boating Council.

Third Place: The "Aqua Buoy," from St. Thomas More High School in Milwaukee. Josh Jankowski and Nathan Karabon, seniors at St. Thomas More, designed the life jacket. It marries traditional foam flotation in a modern inflatable configuration and is a result of the school's Pathway to Engineering curriculum. Jankowski and Karabon took home a $500 prize awarded by the BoatU.S. Foundation.

Click here to see the winners.

Click here for the full release.

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