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Law passed in Wisconsin eliminating need for spotter


Jboss
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I feel like I just hit the jackpot! (and a heads-up to you other Wisconsin-ites) I was just made aware today that Wisconsin passed a law this past year eliminating the requirement for a spotter when skiing. This is HUGE for me because it's me and my wife at our lake house 90% of the time. I've always had to scramble for a spotter. Not anymore!

 

 

href="http://https://www.wjfw.com/storydetails/20180420180825/a_new_law_eliminates_the_requirement_for_water_skiing_spotters">https://wjfw.com/storydetails/20180420180825/a_new_law_eliminates_the_requirement_for_water_skiing_spotters

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@Jetsetr You are spot-on. In our case, we have a 540 acre lake that is totally empty most days. Nearly every time I go out, my wife will not have a single other boat to contend with. On a "busy" day, there may be a few.
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Its often just me and my girlfriend out skiing. My biggest consern is in the event of an injury whether she'll be able to drag my unconscious, or broken, body up onto the swim platform by herself..... but, it can be tough enough to coordinate schedules with one ski partner, much less 2.
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@Jboss yup...we ski a 85 acre lake and even with a few other active boats, fishermen, paddle boards the driver is busy enough...BUT the caveat again is depends on traffic and a host of other variables.

We don’t even TRY to ski on weekends, only during the week, and a lot of times we have the lake to ourselves. I would be ok with that, or when we drop the course...

Which lake you on? We ski Lily Lake in Kenosha county.

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Reminds me of a time when I lived in PA. and a spotter was required. The Corp. of Engineers, that policed the lake, docked their boat right next to mine. After an evening of skiing (just me and the wife), we were pulling into the dock just as the Corp was about to leave, and they asked how the skiing was... had to tell them we just joy riding. I don't think they believed me.
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@jetsetr @jboss the new law eliminates the requirement for a spotter, common sense should decide whether YOU feel you need one or not. Traffic, lake size, other obstacles all play into that decision.

 

As far as paying attention to the driving vs the skier, I'd say pay 98% of your visual attention to the lake in front of you (with a spotter or not). And it's rare that a driver can't "feel" the skier behind the boat. if the skier falls or stops loading behind the boat, a quick glance into the mirror will let the driver know if the skier is still on the line. Obviously that makes coaching more difficult but if you're skilled enough to drive and coach (and do a good job of both), I also bet you're cognizant of boat traffic and busy lakes, etc.

 

In MI we always had "no observer" permits and skied like that for 25-30 years. Never had a problem but certainly you have to prioritize what you need to do in the boat without an observer. The only real challenge was trick practice doing toe turns. That requires basically full-time attention on the skier. As a skier, when practicing toe turns, you tended to watch the water like you were driving and maintain good eye contact with the driver thru the mirror. If it looked like boat traffic was going to be a problem, grab the rope and point so the boat driver knew what was happening. Also tend to error on the safe side.

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Interestingly the law itself says that a local governmental unit can prohibit skiing without an observer on a particular lake if the lake has a "water safety patrol unit" operating at least 1500 hours a year. Guess that eliminates the big, popular lakes in many cases. Also specifically says that no observer is needed for waterski tournaments as long as there is adequate light.

 

One surprising thing is they define waterskiing, aquaplaning or similar which I assume would include tubing, etc. Either way it seems like a mostly sensible law.

 

Here's the text of all of Wisconsin's boating laws - https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/30/V/69/1/a The important stuff starts in paragraph 30.69 and continues in 30.71 & 30.79

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Having been in a boat when someone broke their leg skiing, I would never be without a spotter on the water. We ski on a river so granted it is slightly different to a small lake.

 

In Aus, kids can be a spotter from Age 12 once they pass the boat license test, but I am hesitant to go out with 1 adult & a child because if something was to happen they are not going to be much help.

 

Cheers

 

Robbo

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@Jetsetr We're on Lost Lake in St. Germain. It's an amazing place.

@klindy Keith - Thanks for all the info. This is great. This law is most certainly going to result in a major increase in my ski time this summer. I'm so pumped.

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It's pretty rare that I can't find a spotter, but it would sure be nice to not have to worry about it here in Illinois. Water patrol isn't an issue, but I don't like the image purposefully breaking laws portrays. Our law would have to start with "in counties with a population smaller than 5 million" like so many of our other laws read to separate Chicago. Or in this case, in counties bordering counties with populations greater than 5 million as I'm sure there isn't a whole bunch of waterskiing in Cook County itself.
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We ski without spotters regularly even though it is against the rules. There are rarely patrols on our lake and it is generally early morning or midweek when there is little to no competing boat traffic. In the last 15 years only once has one of our crowd been caught and it was a holiday weekend when he shouldn’t have been skiing without a spotter.

 

I do drive my son doing toes without a spotter or as the release person when my wife is in the boat. I use a Masterline Robbins release and put an extra section of rope and hold it with my foot. If he falls I can’t possibly hold him in.

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This law was in effect last summer fwiw. Very awesome for us. My brother and I were pinched several times over the years. Lol and my good buddy here in Eau Claire did have an old JC Penny manniquin bungied to his obvserver seat, so yes that’s a real thing here. He was actually the guy that spearheaded getting this law rolling with Terry Molton.
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@Jetsetr always good to meet another sledder! My wife and I are into it big time. We just passed 2,000 miles for the year and 5,000 miles on our 3-year old sleds. Time to trade them in! So, the $1,000,000 question is do you ride Arctic Cat, Ski Doo, Polaris, or Yamaha? I ride an AC ZR6000 Limited. My wife rides a Polaris 600 Rush Pro-S. This is what my backyard looks like right now. CRAZY snow this year. Love it, but now it's time to melt so I can put my ProStar in the water. :-) l3av0b3ismyt.png

 

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I think this was passed a year or two ago. My brother and I have issues finding spotters for our early AM course skiing so we figured what would be the harm in going no spotter as the lake is empty at 6 am. We both had the worst OTF's we've ever had and we think he had a minor concussion. Last time I'll ski without a spotter.
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@Jboss The Nautique color is called "Solar Red", looked like orange to me:) Nautique marketing picked all the colors on the new boat for the promo team last year. I woudln't have picked it myself, but I do have to say that it looked good. As far as the no spotter rule, I was serious, any state that requires a spotter to ski is off limits when my wife and I take a week to go out of town to ski. MO has always been skier friendly requiring only a wide view mirror, so that is where we usually went. Now areas like Wisconsin Dells are much more attractive to couples who want to take a skiing vacation, toursism should benefit from this rule.
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@Jboss I have a Ski Doo ETEC 600 Renegade and a 800 Grand Touring. Also have a ‘70 Evinrude and a ‘73 Johnson. Don’t get to ride as much as I like, too many irons in the fire. Going to ride in the Pembine area next week...I’ve had many 1000 mile years, never a 2K year. But I live waaaay south.
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By the way, we need to figure out a way to get a nice permanent course up in northern Wisconsin somewhere. This is an absolute dead zone of course skiing. I know there is a course up on Big Stone lake in Three lakes but its out in open water, has no pre-gates, and the owner doesn't want anyone on it. There is one on the Minocqua chain but it's usually in tatters, has a lot of rollers too. I have a portable course on a smaller lake but it has to be deployed every time and I usually don't have many takers to help deploy it early and of course wind conditions have to be perfect, etc.
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This list doesn't appear to be completely up-to-date but I'll bet it's a great start to do some research. Clearly the Wisconsin law update isn't even included. uscgboating.org/regulations/state-boating-laws-details.php?id=17&title=[4.1]Water%20Skiing

 

It comes from this US Coast Guard page which should be reliable. The general links on this page have a lot more info too - uscgboating.org/regulations/

 

One thing to remember that the "no observer" rules kinda cut both ways. While they make it easier for those of us who are dedicated to get some decent practice on public waterways, it also makes it possible for a personal watercraft to pull tubers and others with only a driver. The mirror (especially convex mirror) requirement may help but I believe the specific language in the rules is very important to understand.

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@jhughes You're so right. Our place is on the Spread Eagle Chain, not far from you. We put our EZ in when we can, but that entire area is starving for a permanent. It also feels like every 3rd dock has a DD ski boat on a lift, so the fact that there are so few courses amazes me.
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@klindy : A solution, which is in the Michigan regs, a big mirror is required to allow one to pull a skier w/o a spotter (there are a few more requirements to allow one to do it). Wouldn't prohibit one to install one on a jet ski.
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@DW, can you give me a link to that law? The only “no observer” option I am aware of in Michigan requires that you are a tournament skier and apply for a special “no observer” permit. I’m not aware of any broad regulation allowing just anybody to ski without an observer, regardless of the mirror.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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@Jboss I'd help out any way I can. I know a few others from our chain that may be interested too. We put our EZ right in front of our house, which works out great. I've wondered before if we could get a permanent, sinkable course in that spot, but never tried.
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By the way for anyone reading this that skis in NH we have a little known, more restrictive version of this law on the books.

 

If you are driving/skiing a competition ski boat with a wide angle mirror in an approved slalom course (permitted) you do not need a spotter in NH. Found out about this law from Marine Patrol last year. I had no idea.

 

Immediately bought myself a set of 4 of these https://www.leadwake.com/collections/frontpage/products/25-lb-bag?variant=35497736336

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