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Safe Water Sports




Having knowledge of the water sport you are about to get into is pretty self explanatory, but it's the little quirks that surround it that will help you enjoy it more if you just take a few moments to soak in some tips.

Firstly, if you haven't been around the water sports or vessels, you will need to keep a few simple things in mind whether you are in the driver's chair or riding behind the boat.

Communications and hand signals

The need for driver, observer and rider communications is the most important thing to understand before you even step near the water. There are many hand signals that you need to know as you venutre further into your sport, but the four cornerstones are:

  • Faster - thumb up
  • Slower - thumb down
  • Turn around - circular helicopter motion above the head with your arm or hand
  • Home (or in the boat) - patting your head with your hand



There are a few activities that fall under the banner of towed water sports including:

  • tubing
  • double skis
  • wakeboard
  • slalom skiing
  • bare footing.

Each acitvity has a different operating speed, for example:

Double skis, knee boarding, wakeboarding

Double skis, knee boarding and wakeboarding are generally the slower categories and you don't need to be hurtling around the water at breakneck speeds to do them.

The average speed behind the boat in this category will be between 17-24mph (27-38kph).


TIP: You also don't need to accerlerate at a rapid rate to get people on top of the water. Taking off too fast can really do some damage to the body and the person being towed could end up with a sling around their arm for the rest of summer.



Tubing, or biscuiting, is a great all rounder for anyone who wants to get out on the water and have a splash. It's simplicity means that anyone can have a go and anyone who has their boat license can drive the tubes around the water for hours of fun.

There are a few things to keep in mind that are essential to your tubing experience and the safety of others.

Tubing doesn't have specific optimum speed but the actual tube will have it's limits, as you will the rider. Make sure you trust the driver and can communicate clearly about the speed you want to ride at.

Due to characteristics of an inflatable tube, the rider cannot physically steer from side to side. It's up to the observer and the person in the driver's seat to ensure that the riders are safe from damage by any hazards, either above or below the waterline, which can cause serious injury.

Keep your eyes onpen for anyone approaching you or coming up from behind at a faster pace and allow them to pass safely.

Slalom and bare footing

Slalom and bare footing are the more advanced foot paced categories and can involve reaching speeds of up to 40mph (60kmph).

This requires some advanced knowledge and skill to be able to negiotiate your path. Execellent communication and knowledge of the water ways is a must for both the rider and driver.

Knowing your abilities

Wanting to try various tricks on the water is exciting, but knowing your abilities will stop you from putting yourself out of action for the season.

For example, if you wakeboard and you want to try a flip but haven't mastered the basics of jumping the wake or handle position yet, then you could end up injured.

Getting a coach to help you with your technique is the smartest and fastest way to improve your ability. The best way to find a coach in your area is to contact your local club or association and they will point you in the right direction.


Acknowledgement: Marine Safety Victoria