I appreciate Jeremy Wiczek’s perspective on the importance of educating boaters about safety and best practices.
Anyone who enjoys other water sports on the lakes of Minnesota can speak to the many negative experiences with personal safety and property damage caused by long surfers’ wakes.
Boats often bounce while taking water from large waves, which threatens the safety of boaters. Wave damage to docks and to boats moored to docks is well documented. Waves from a 3 to 4 foot high wake boat may dissipate faster at first, but are still much higher than a normal boat wave at any distance.
The larger surf waves from the wake boats travel much further over the shore wash sediments that carry phosphorus into the lake. Turbulence produced by larger than normal waves disturbs and mixes lake bottom sediments from deeper waters.
Both sediment disturbances result in more algae, which reduces the clarity of the water. More recent research recommends that wake boats operate 1,000 feet from shore in waters over 16 feet deep to significantly reduce damage to the shore and minimize disturbance to the lake bottom.
Minnesota Legislative House Bill HF 1606 and Senate Bill SF1639, introduced by boating industry lobbyists, attempted to establish a “no-wake zone” 200 feet from shore for water sports. wake surf boats. The state legislature has failed to act on the bills and for good reason. The 200-foot setback comes from a study commissioned by the boating industry, which has not been peer-reviewed by other scientists in the field.
Fortunately, an extensive, peer-reviewed study was conducted by the St. Anthony Falls lab at the University of Minnesota. The results of this study are forthcoming and state legislators have indicated the need to review these results before proposing legislation.
Education by itself does not work and the big waves created by wake surf boats threaten the enjoyment of all other types of water sports.