Originally Posted by smackdaddy
An important point Bryan made in his story regarding the pfds was that most of that racing crowd had a habit of tucking in (hiding) their inflate pull-tabs to avoid accidental inflation. Many people, including me, wear manual inflate pfds - for perfectly good reasons. But, if you can't find your tab when you're under, you're screwed. That very well could have been the case here.
Yeah, I have a couple of inflatable pfds that have auto and manual but I still wear my 20 yr old old kayak pfd. It's not all that uncomfortable, has a rugged knife sheath, and cannot deflate. I've never really noticed that it gets in the way and I know it works. The darned manual pulls on the inflatables seem way too exposed to not quickly get caught on something. Tucking them in is something most people will probably do rather than have to shell out $20+ bucks every time they pop off. I can tell you, once you're underwater and being tossed around, you don't know which way is up. Grabbing that tab even in its intended position would be difficult unless practiced until it's second nature. In rolling a kayak in whitewater, which must be very similar to being dragged under on a tether, it's all about knowing where things are by practiced body awareness.