Our opinion: boating safety must be a top priority – Brainerd Dispatch


No doubt, boating is popular in Minnesota.

See almost any body of water in the Brainerd Lakes region on a nice summer weekend and you’re likely to see myriad types of boats – fishing boats, pontoons, deck boats, runabouts, cruisers , ski boats, jet skis, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, to name a few.

And then there are the wake boats.

As the popularity of wake boats has grown in recent years, so has the controversy surrounding them. These large, powerful boats are used to create a large wake – or wave – that allows a rider on a surfboard to ride behind the boat.

For many, they are great fun. For many others, they are a nuisance.

There are certainly environmental concerns with such boats creating such big waves on the lakes in the area. But there is also a social issue with these boats. Talk to any regular lake user and you’ll likely hear the story of a wake boat traveling too close to other boats or the shore, and often playing music too loudly.

That’s why it was refreshing to see the wakeboat industry at least acknowledge the problem and push for proper etiquette for wakeboat riders, as reported in a Wednesday, June 22 article from the Brainerd Dispatch.

“The Water Sports Industry Association was formed with a mission to provide education,” Brad Fralick, director of government affairs for the Water Sports Industry Association, told The Dispatch. “Wake surfing education is just an extension of that. There are areas that are different from other water sports, so we do education efforts across the country just to give a common sense presentation. .

Giving a presentation to area stakeholders at the 9th Annual Bar Harbor Boat Show June 18-19 on Gull Lake, Water Sports Industry Association officials stressed that the number one priority was wake boats and wakesurfers should stay at least 200 feet from shore. , docks, boats and other structures.

Jill Sims, policy and engagement manager for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said their goal is to be the best stewards on the water. Also noted was education on keeping the music at reasonable levels and not making repetitive passes with a wake boat.

We appreciate these sentiments and hope they have reached the ears of all the boaters who will grace the lakes in our area this summer.

We would also like to see the Minnesota Legislature at some point follow the bill – sponsored in the last Senate session by Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point – requiring a Certified Boater Safety Course for any born boater. after January 1, 1987 and be at least 12 years old. There’s never anything wrong with a little education.

There is no doubt that our lakes are becoming increasingly crowded, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the responsibility of all boaters to ensure that they operate in the safest and most respectful manner possible.


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