Fresh thinking has inspired a new kind of wetsuit.
Wanaka designer Eddie Spearing said Lake Wanaka’s annual Ruby Swim was the inspiration for creating a wetsuit specifically for use in freshwater lakes and rivers.
In 2015 Mr Spearing and Jamie Norman launched The Ruby swimming event, and this led to wondering if he could improve on wetsuit designs for fresh water.
Mr Spearing has a background as a mechanical design engineer and also worked in publishing, creating the UK’s first snowboarding magazine before moving to Wanaka.
‘‘I looked at what would be the main attributes for a freshwater suit.’’
He concluded there were three key factors — buoyancy , visibility and warmth.
Mr Spearing put all those attributes together and began researching online to find wetsuits that fit those criteria.
To his surprise he could not find any examples.
‘‘I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a suit specifically designed for freshwater use in the way I saw it.’’
In 2017 Mr Spearing set up a project on crowdfunding platform PledgeMe to find investors.
About 65 people ‘‘were prepared to take a punt’’ by pre-ordering wetsuits at a special discount price.
‘‘Without those early adopters I couldn’t have brought the design of my idea into fruition, so they were really, really important.’’
He was able create a first version of the suit and had progressed to a second version which was starting to be delivered.
Although he was pleased with the changes he had made to the improved wetsuit, the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic had begun to have an impact.
Out of an order of 250 suits, only 30 had been delivered to date. The remaining 220 would be arriving in the middle of April.
‘‘Covid has impacted with logistics, basically, like my suits. They were supposed to be here for New Zealand’s summer in October/ November.’’