Improving innovation

The U SAFE self-propelled lifebuoy has taken out the prestigious DAME Award 2019.

Photography by Pieter Magielsen

21 November 2019


Birgit Schnaase, Chair of the Jury, presented the winners’ awards in all categories and 17 Special Mentions.

This year saw several Category Winners reach a closely debated final round to decide the overall DAME prize.

The ultimate decision went to the U SAFE, a reinvention of the traditional life-saving ring that is auto-propelled and remote controlled.

Featuring robust, understated and very clean design, the U SAFE can be launched from boat, marina or shore in line of site at speeds of up to 15-kilometres-per-hour and operates for up to 30 minutes.

The design incorporates completely flush jet drives and large rigid grab holds, as well as an easy-to-access u-shaped area to swim into. It offers the promise of enhanced lifesaving options for casualties in the water, with less risk to rescuers.


The Jury found the U SAFE to be a perfect example of how accepted norms for products in widespread use across the marine leisure world can be examined and improved by great design effort.

Commenting on the result, Chair of the Jury, Birgit Schnaase stated “We discussed at our Jury meeting this year just how influential design is in the world around us. It is critical that marine companies focus on design, in all of its aspects, to ensure that consumer expectations are met when they go boating.

“We also need smart design to address important issues like production efficiency, environmental impact improvement and greater integration. The role of the DAME Awards in identifying stand-out examples of good practice has never been more valuable.

“The mix of entries this year was submitted from the largest number of countries yet seen in the DAME. Our final selection represents a wide-ranging field of products, from new materials and items of personal boating equipment, to complex electronics and large items of machinery. All providing evidence of further strength in the field of marine industry design.”

Each year the organisers of the METSTRADE Show donate the combined registration fees for the DAME Design Award to selected charities as a way of giving back to society. For 2019 the METSTRADE Exhibition Committee selected two charities to receive the funds – sailing4handicaps and The Little Optimist Trust.

Each received a cheque for €8,850 to assist their very worthy initiatives at the DAME Awards presentation.

The 29th Design Award METSTRADE competition attracted 118 entries spanning 27 countries, from which it nominated a total of 59 products for display in the METSTRADE DAME Award exhibition and for consideration in the final judging rounds.

The Jury decided winners in each of the seven DAME categories. From these an overall DAME Award Winner was chosen.

The Jury also identified 17 Special Mentions (commended runner-up entries).



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