-- Last Updated: Feb-12-13 7:35 AM EST --
Discussion here is about COLD water. The kind where in 10 minutes a normal bloke has trouble thinking clearly and moving his arms and legs. If the discussion were about some falling overboard their pleasure cruiser in the Caribbean in balmy weather, then of course, horses for courses...
Yes, you are a whitewater kayaker and there is no water but "rough water". Now if only you were to listen and understand a simple thing - a head and neck support lifejacket is not designed for fast-flowing whitewater just as a touring kayak is not designed to run Class III rivers or jetski is not designed for ocean crossings. In open cold water - with the resulting incapacitation from hypothermia, and/or stormy condition - that is swell - a series of long-wavelength waves generated by wind in the surface of the sea - a head and neck support lifejacket will greatly increase your survivability. Yes, you might freeze to death in 60 minutes or so not dressed for impression in cold water wearing Class 1 lifejacket. But you will drown in less than 15 wearing your whitewater PFD and trying to swim - because as soon as you stop making coherent movements you will seize to be able to hold your head above water. Which is why a guy wearing a whitewater PFD will not be allowed on board a sailboat (or any other boat) by a serious skipper. But on the other hand, it is obvious that all those thousands of sailors, trawler fishermen, coast guard personnel and so on are inherently stupid because they stubbornly trust their lives to a piece of equipment that according to you has no merit whatsoever. I know personally 2 people from M/S Estonia - Google it if you don't know what it is - who swear by Class 1 lifejackets saving their lives in ice-cold water after being pulled out nearly unconscious. That evidence enough for me - when taken into account of what happened there and how many drowned.
If you were to live by a body of water that gets REALLY cold in winter, you'd understand the difference between having your head above water and having to "swim" to keep it up.