The Ultimate Watersports Safety Guide



Participating in Watersports can be a lot of fun. Waterskiing, riding an inflatable tube, or wakeboarding are all great ways to spend time with friends and family while making the most out of your boat investment. Safety should be the first priority in all activities.

You can enjoy towing water sports safely by following these safety tips. 

Three Tips for a Safe and Fun Watersports Experience

  1. Always wear a life jacket: No matter what towable vehicle you choose, always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  2. The best option is a vest-style Type III life jacket. The body-hugging design won’t limit movement, and the wide torso coverage will provide some impact protection if you fall hard.
  3. Designate Spotter Always have at least one designated spotter on board. This person’s sole responsibility is to communicate the needs of the skier or rider to the driver.
  4. Learn Basic Hand Signals The spotter should be able to understand what the basic hand signals mean. They include thumbs-up or -down to indicate speed, a pat on the head for a request to return to the dock, and two hands held overhead with fingers touching to show that the rider has recovered from a fall.

Watersports: 4 boat driver-specific responsibilities

You are responsible for the safety of the passengers, including the skier and rider. Keep in mind the following:

  1. must maintain a safe distance away from shorelines and other boats that share the water.
  2. Keep your eyes on the path ahead and the water while letting the spotter track the action in the back.
  3. Keep the skier in the front of the boat when returning to an injured skier.
  4. Never allow a skier, rider, or swimmer to get on the swim platform or slip into the water without shutting down the engine first.

Drivers need to know how fast each activity is done and the strength of the pull when starting.

  • Water skiers prefer speeds between 25 and 36 MPH
  • Wakeboarders from 18 to 22 MPH
  • Wakesurfers can travel at speeds as low as 11-12 MPH
  • When starting in deep water, pull the borders more slowly. Skiers need to accelerate more quickly, especially if they are larger or riding one ski. Remember, you should never drive or engage in watersports while under the influence.

Click Here to Read: How To Celebrate On A Boat Safely

3 Boat Tubing Safety Tips

Inflatable Tubes are the most basic of all towables. However, they require additional attention.

  1. Always heed the manufacturer’s recommendations in regards to the number of people and/or the weight capacity. A loaded inflatable will not only reduce its performance but also increase the risk of injury. To ensure that your inflatable performs as it is intended, you should always adhere to any towing speed limit.
  2. Proper inflating is essential. Not only will it ensure that the inflatable rides well on the water, but also keep passengers safe. Inflatables are usually made up of an inner bladder that is covered in durable nylon.
  3. Under-inflated tubes will have gaps between the bladder and cover, which could entangle riders. Towlines that are designed to carry the increased weight of inflatables should always be used.
  4. Drive with extra caution. Be aware that inflatables are capable of reaching surprising speeds when slingshot into a sharp corner. Watch your boat and other boats’ wakes.

Read Boating Safety Tips for Tubing to learn more about safe tubing.

4 Wakesurfing Safety Guidelines to Follow

Wakesurfing occurs close to the transom or back of the boat. As such, a boat must position the propeller well below the hull and away from any riders who may fall. Jet boats, inboards, and V-drives are all suitable, as well as models with sterndrives that have propellers mounted forward.

The propeller on traditional sterndrives or outboards is too close to the surfer and shouldn’t be used. The exhaust systems on wakesurf boat models are designed to prevent harmful carbon monoxide buildup in the prime riding area of the surfer.

Here are some safety tips for wake-surfing.

  1. Buy a towrope designed for wake surfing. The shorter length places the surfer at the sweet spot of the wake, and the small handle or braided grip reduces the chances of getting tangled in a fall.
  2. Do not wrap a slackline around your arm or hand when you are maneuvering the surfboard into the pocket of the wave.
  3. Be aware of the effects of wakes on the environment. Boats create wakes that are much larger than normal when in surfing mode. If you ride too near the shore or other boaters and those wakes cause damage, it is important to keep a safe distance.


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