Waterskiing, wakeboarding and towing

The roles and responsibilities of those engaged in waterskiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, kneeboarding, tubing and similar sports.

Towing activities include waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, kneeboarding, tubing and similar sports.

Anyone being towed must wear a lifejacket.

The towing vessel

  • Must have current registration (if applicable)
  • Must have a minimum crew of two, the master (driver) and an observer (also applies to PWC when towing unless tow-in surfing)
  • Must have a Safety Label or PWC Behaviour Label
  • Must carry appropriate safety equipment.

The driver

  • Must hold a general boat licence if the vessel will be operated at 10 knots or more or a PWC Licence when operating a PWC at any speed. Additional restrictions apply to licence holders under 16 years of age
  • Is responsible for the safety of the vessel and towed people and for maintaining the minimum distances off applicable to the boat and the person or people being towed
  • Must not be under the influence of alcohol or a drug
  • Must not tow more than three persons at once.

The observer

  • Must hold a boat or PWC driving licence or be 16 years of age or older
  • Must not suffer hearing, sight, or other disabilities which could affect the performance of observation duties and must not be under the influence of alcohol or a drug
  • Has the prime responsibility of observing the towed people and reporting all matters affecting them to the master
  • Tells the driver about other vessels approaching from behind
  • Should be familiar with the standard hand signals.
Child being towed on an inflatable tube.

The towed person

  • Must wear a lifejacket (see Lifejackets section)
  • Must be at least 7 metres behind the vessel
  • Must maintain the minimum distances off and, when returning to shore, must do so safely
  • Must not be under the influence of alcohol or a drug.

Safe distance and speed

When towing a person or people at any speed keep the vessel, any towing equipment and anyone being towed a minimum distance of:

  • 60 metres from people in the water or, if that is not possible, a safe distance and speed
  • 60 metres from a dive flag on the surface of the water or if that is not possible a safe distance and speed.

When towing at a speed of six knots or more, you must keep the vessel, any towing equipment and anyone being towed a minimum distance of:

  • 30 metres from any other vessel, land structures (including jetties, bridges and navigation marers), morred or anchored vessels, or if that is not possible, a safe distance and speed.

If towing aerial equipment (eg paraflying) the vessel, any towing equipment and anyone being towed, must maintain a distance of at least 200 metres from any other vessel, bridge, cable, wire, pipeline or structure.

    No towing areas

    In some areas towing activities may be prohibited and signs may be displayed. The signage may specifically prohibit operating a power-driven vessel that is ballasted at low speed so as to generate a large wave or wake for wakeboarding or wake surfing activities. In other areas, water-skiing may not be possible because of the location of hazards or a safe distance cannot be maintained.

    Towing prohibited

    • Towing is prohibited between sunset and sunrise
    • ‘Teak’ surfing, being pulled through the water while holding the swim platform of a vessel, is prohibited at all times.

      Tow rope requirements

      The operator of the vessel must ensure the tow rope is long enough for anyone being towed to be at least 7 metres behind the vessel at all times. Some exceptions apply for vessels during training activities.

      An exception applies to training activities using a training bar, provided the bar allows the person to be 1 metre from the side of the vessel and 1 metre forward of any exhaust port.

      For wake boarders and wake surfers, the vessel operator must ensure they are not less than 7 metres from the centreline of the stern of the vessel, whether or not they are using a tow rope or other device. However, this requirement does not apply if the operator mitigates the risks associated with carbon monoxide emissions and the vessel is not fitted with a propeller at the aft-most position of the hull.


       
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