To help popularise the campaign, Australian cricket legend, Matthew Hayden (right) has volunteered his support.

For Hayden, the campaign offers the chance to pass on the lessons he has learned the hard way.

“Not only do incidents happen, they happen really quickly,” he says, referring to his experience just a few years ago when he, fellow cricketer Andrew Symonds and friend, Trent Butler were in a boat that capsized and sank off North Stradbroke Island. None of the trio was wearing life jackets. It took them an hour to swim to shore, battling currents, crashing waves and eventually, shock and exhaustion.

According to the results of a newly-released NMSC-sponsored study of recreational vessels throughout Australia, the actions of the skipper have a huge influence on the behaviour of passengers, especially in relation to the wearing of personal flotation devices.

One of the major findings of the study was that when the skipper is wearing a PFD, the wear rate amongst passengers ranges from 50 to 94 per cent. In contrast, the wear rate amongst passengers whose skipper did not wear a PFD ranged from 4 to 11 per cent.

When these results are combined with those of a previous NMSC study that found that survivors of boating incidents are more than twice as likely to have been wearing a PFD than those who perished, the importance of skipper responsibility is obvious. As Matthew Hayden says, “When you’re the skipper of a boat, you’ve got people’s lives in your hands.”

Other findings of the study include:

  • The female PFD wear rate is consistently higher than the male rate (on average, three to six per cent higher)
  • PFD usage was higher among children (aged 0-17) than adults. Wear rates were also consistently higher in younger children than older children/adolescents
  • PFD usage on open boats was very low, ranging from three to 11 per cent
  • PFD usage on cuddy/half cabin cruisers was very low, ranging from two to 11 per cent
  • PFD usage among fishers was consistently very low, from two to eight per cent
  • PFD usage of persons engaged in general boating activities was very low, ranging from four to 15 per cent.
For more information, visit the National Marine Safety Committee website: