NASBLA Roundtable

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Training for Towed Water Sports

  • 1.  Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 29 days ago

    Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is currently having stakeholder meetings on whether or not people who charge for water skiing or tubing need a guides license.

    We have a handful of businesses that take people water skiing and are currently not registered guides and want to have an exemption.
    Does anyone have any training PowerPoints or modules for towed water sports?


    Jason Luce
    ME Dept of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

  • 2.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 28 days ago

    Wisconsin doesn't have anything like this, other than what's in the boater education manual.  That is pretty basic material, but can forward if it would be helpful. 




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    Lieutenant, Darren Kuhn
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    Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
    2984 Shawano Ave. Green Bay, WI 54313
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  • 3.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 28 days ago

    Good Morning Lt.

    Here in Connecticut we have the "Emily's Law" in effect since 2015. We incorporate water-skiing and water safety into our mandatory boating certificate education courses as required by law. A video was made from the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) and utilized by the family and others who instruct boating safety. The video link is attached to the email.

    Hope this helps. 

    Kind regards,

    Patrick M. Kilby
    Marine Patrol Officer
    Coventry, CT Police Department
    1585 Main Street
    Coventry, CT 06238

    Connecticut Safe Water Skiing Endorsement

    Effective October 1, 2015, to operate a vessel or personal watercraft (i.e. trademarked names jetski, wave runner and sea doo) on Connecticut waters that is towing a skier, tube, or has anyone riding the wake of the vessel,  you must:
    1. Be age 16 or older and
    2. Have a valid boating certificate from either Connecticut, a state that has a reciprocal agreement with Connecticut, or a U.S. Coast Guard operator's license and
    3. Possess a Connecticut Safe Water Skiing Endorsement
    Connecticut currently has reciprocity with New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. 
    Persons who have obtained any of the certificates listed in #2 (above) prior to October 1, 2015 have been grandfathered and do not need to obtain the Safe Water Skiing Endorsement.

    As of October 1, 2015 all classroom boating courses approved by the Commissioner resulting in a Connecticut boating safety certificate include the information and testing needed to qualify for the Safe Water Skiing Endorsement.  Upon successful completion of the classroom course, the Safe Water Skiing Endorsement will print automatically if you are 16 years old or older when the boating certificate is purchased through the Online Sportsmen Licensing System webpage.

    Patrick M. Kilby
    Marine Patrol Officer
    Coventry, CT Police Department
    1585 Main Street
    Coventry, CT 06238

  • 4.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 27 days ago

    Hi Jason, 

    Great question! The Water Sports Industry Association currently offers a couple of materials that may be of use. First, the WSIA can provide you with the "Towed Water Sports Boating Handbook." This handbook provides an immense amount of safety information and educational content for both boat operators and riders. We do have this information in PowerPoint format if that is what's needed. 

    Additionally, the WSIA intends to release an educational video series at the NASBLA annual conference specifically for towed water sports. 

    Regarding your question about modules - This is an incredibly important conversation. This year, the WSIA started discussions with both NASBLA staff and other industry stakeholders to create an educational supplement to the ANSI/NASBLA 100-2022 Basic Boating Knowledge - Core, and we intend to pursue the creation of this educational content within the next 18 months, but we know that this cannot be accomplished without the assistance of NASBLA and other stakeholders engaged on this community page. 

    I would be delighted to meet with you and any other state BLA reading this post at the NASBLA conference to ensure that your state needs are understood while we attempt to develop this supplement educational content. 

    As always, please feel free to reach out to me anytime. My email is: and my cell is: 931-267-0673. 


    Lee Gatts
    Vice President of Government Affairs
    Water Sports Industry Association

  • 5.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 26 days ago
    Hi Jason,
      Since October 1, 2015, Connecticut has required operators to have a Safe Waterskiing Endorsement to tow anyone behind their vessel. If a boater takes a CT class, they receive it with their boating certificate. If a boaters needs just the Safe Waterskiing Endorsement, they can take the class online. Please let me know if you'd like to see what we include in the class.

    Wendy Flynn

    Environmental Analyst

    Bureau of Outdoor Recreation- Boating Division

    Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection
    P.O. Box 280, 333 Ferry Rd, Old Lyme, CT 06371

    p: 860.447.4339 | m: 860.463.6177 |


    Conserving, improving, and protecting our natural resources and environment;
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  • 6.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 18 days ago
    I have heard that Wisconsin is considering a law change which eliminates an observer from any towed water sport device.
    Ohio has an observer law for any towed ski or device. People are asking for a law change eliminating an observer.

    Any thoughts of recommends from others?

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 7.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 18 days ago

  • 8.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 18 days ago
    I am in my eighties with a lifetime of water skiing behind me. Eliminating the observer requirement is pure insanity and people are going to die as a result. It's difficult enough to concentrate on avoiding other boaters without leaving someone behind in your wake to get chopped up!

  • 9.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 17 days ago

    Minnesota has allowed the mirror or observer as options since 1990.

    Adam Block
    MN Dept of Natural Resources

  • 10.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 15 days ago
    I see this trend as a mistake that will bite boaters and skiers/tubers in the future. Obviously, the operator of a boat/PWC cannot watch and read the water along with water traffic and obstacles and confess to properly observing the skier/tuber. Saying they can is simply being in denial.
    In addition, the observer serves as additional help when the skier/tuber becomes injured or needs assistance.
    Making a decision to eliminate the observer, to me, is not knowing the safety required during towed recreational boating or having never been involved in an incident while performing towing. 
    I don't recommend persons with such a lack of experience, eliminate safety positions.

    Tony Hargett

  • 11.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 17 days ago

    Maryland requires an observer that is at least 12 years of age.

    Scott Forrest
    MD Natural Resources Police

  • 12.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 16 days ago

    An observer does not just watch the water sports participant. They should also be prepared to jump in and assist if the participant has an injury. I think that is a key point that lots of people forget.

    Scott McLain
    New Hampshire Marine Patrol

  • 13.  RE: Training for Towed Water Sports

    Posted 15 days ago
    72 Colregs Rule 5 requires vessels to have a proper and active lookout while underway.  Many states have this in their local law in some form. Officers evaluate this when investigating mishaps. Removing the "observer" requirement puts an unnecessary burden on the operator to navigate the vessel and watch the person being towed.  Creating this divided attention will create a stressful and hazardous situation.  Even the use of a mirror still creates a divided attention situation that is prevented by keeping an independent observer.
    The state of WA has an observer requirement.

    Rodney Rochon
    USCG Master 100 ton
    WA State Parks Boating Safety Instructor
    Safekids Snohomish Co Water-safety Coordinator