RE: Impact Vest
I use a Dakine Impact Vest in waves and high winds. These guys are correct it's not USCG approved so I suggest wearing a helmut also.
But it does help you to float better. Also I have crashed really badly and the vest will protect your ribs from getting cracked.
Also Chuck has a valid point, The PFD will limit how fast you can swim. They definetley will slow down your swimming speed. So there are pros and cons. It's a personal thing. I try to stay safe but there is only so much you can do. Probably the biggest thing you can do is wear a helmut. That way you won't get knocked out and drown. Hope this helps Greg.