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Are bans on wakesurfing coming?

“If they’d ban these wake boats on our lake, it couldn’t come too soon,” said a well-dressed couple standing behind a new surf model, “because the wake they throw is a homeowner’s nightmare.”

I was standing in a Discover Boating display assembled by the Marine Industry Association of Central Florida in Orlando recently. One of the 11 boats on display was a new surf model. Its forward-drive, dual-prop I/O and extra-large trim tabs attracted a lot of attention, some not so pleasant.

This couple explained that they live on a lake northwest of Orlando. They’re boaters and have a pontoon they keep on a lift behind their waterfront home. As they recalled, it was last summer that wakesurfing seemed to suddenly become popular on their lake, and that’s when their problems began.

“It’s the wake these boats make that give us problems as homeowners and boaters,” the woman noted.

“In two ways,” the man added. “First, they come way too close to our property, and we get hit. If our pontoon is at our dock, it gets pounded. Now I always have to lift it out.”

There’s no question participation in water sports is seeing solid growth, and it’s good for our business. Top brands such as Malibu, MasterCraft, Nautique, Regal and others are meeting the demand for wakesurf designs. But with stories such as this one, it signals a potential headache that should be addressed before it’s a migraine. It’s time for wake responsibility.

With an eye toward another summer of water sports growth, the Water Sports Industry Association is acting to head off problems by calling on the industry to help educate boaters about safe practices. Dubbed the “Wake Responsibly” campaign, the WSIA is urging the industry to get out in front of potential trouble by making available applicable marketing materials. These range from website ads to handout and insert cards (available to download here). Print materials are also available by request by contacting info@wsia.net.

The Wake Responsibly campaign stresses three key points that address, in part, complaints about water sports, especially wakesurfing:

  1. Stay at least 150 feet away from docks, structures and shorelines
  2. Keep music on board at reasonable levels. We boaters know that sounds carries over water, so if it’s loud enough for the surfer to hear, homeowners can likely hear it, too.
  3. Minimize competitive passes, and once you’ve run a shoreline move to another area.

In addition to the handouts and cards, you can download printable posters from the WSIA website. Plus, there are several website banners, ads and other designs suitable for use on your sites, in newsletters and with email promotions.

Finally, there is a line at the bottom of the materials reminding participants that they are responsible for their wakes. Indeed, one can easily speculate that if enough lawsuits from property owners and other boaters start to fly, insurance premiums could rise and/or exclusions for surf boats could begin to show up, and that would not be good for business.

If you are a dealer in water-sports boats and you haven’t done so to date, it’s time to get the materials from WSIA and put them into circulation. 

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