Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recently signed into law a marine industry-backed model for wakesurfing and wakeboarding legislation. The Tennessee law marks the first state to adopt the industry’s model legislation. The new law is designed to help protect the shorelines of Tennessee lakes and homeowners’ property from the high wakes created by wakeboats and enhances safety requirements for those engaging in wakesurfing and wakeboarding by:
- Requiring operators to stay at least 200 feet away from all shorelines, docks, piers, or other structures. This means that a channel needs to be at least 400 feet in total width to be considered an appropriate area for these activities.
- Riders engaging in towed watersports must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Prohibits wakesurfing and wakeboarding between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
- Prohibits wakesurfing from a boat with an exposed (beyond boarding platform) propeller.
- Prohibits wakesurfing and wakeboarding on a body of water less than fifty (50) acres in size.
High wakes, especially in smaller channels of water, can churn up sediment which can, in turn, stir up dormant nutrients which then promotes algae bloom and the growth of weeds. High wakes can disturb wildlife close to shore and in smaller channels can be dangerous for swimmers, especially inexperienced ones, and children.