Sigman Janssen Legal Blog

Amendment to Water Ski Spotter Requirements in Wisconsin Pending in WI Legislature

August 17, 2017

The Wisconsin legislature is considering a change to the water ski spotter requirements for motorboat operators pulling a person on skis, aquaplanes, or similar devices. The existing Wisconsin law requires that there be a second person in the motorboat observing the person being pulled by the boat. That person is to be “competent” to be an observer. The proposed new law would add an exception to the spotter requirement. Specifically, the new provision would allow the elimination of the need for a spotter if  “[t]he motorboat is equipped with a mirror that provides the operator with a wide field of vision to the rear.”

This pending change to Wisconsin law will provide additional opportunities to engage in the recreational activity of skiing, wakeboarding, etc., without the necessity of a third person. However, the elimination of the absolute requirement of a spotter may lead to more accidents as the use of a mirror may not be sufficient to fully protect the person being pulled as it will cause the motorboat operator to change the focus of their attention from what is in front of the boat to what is happening in the rear of the boat.

The bill has advanced out of the Wisconsin Senate and will now move on to the State Assembly.

The Sigman Janssen law firm wants you to be safe, whether utilizing a spotter or a mirror. Please be smart on the water.

Attorney Jim Pitz