I'm talking about the tight fitting "competition style" non-CGA lifevests that the majority of us wear.
(Some time ago) One of my ski buddies took a major OTF. When I came back to get him his life vest had been completely torn on top of both shoulders and was partially unzipped. The life vest was literally hanging around is waist. Fortunately he was in water shallow enough that he could stand up in and was not knocked unconscious. But if that were not the case he would have been in trouble. His vest was only 2 years (3 max) old at the time.
Yesterday I took a major OTF. I had the wind knocked out of me, was concussed, and momentarily unconscious. Someone had to come into the water to get me. My life vest came completely unzipped. I don't know how I stayed on top of the water for those first few (10-20) seconds. This is the second season of my vest.
I know these vests hold up fine in routine falls and some "non-major" (i.e. no injury) crashes.
I know major crashes are a rarity. The majority of us are on small shallow private lakes which gives the perception of safety - but in the case of a major crash that leads to a physical injury where the skier can't help themselves the life vest obviously has to stay on the skier to be of value. I've now had two experiences where this type of vest has failed and I'm wondering if anyone else has had or seen similar experiences?