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Course Outline

Observer Watching Persons Being Towed

Vessel operators towing a person(s) on water skis, aquaplanes, surfboards, inner tubes, or any similar devices have specific equipment and observer requirements.

  • All persons being towed behind a vessel on water skis or any other device must wear a USCG–approved PFD.
    • A USCG–approved PFD must be carried in the vessel for each skier electing to wear a special water-skiing wetsuit.
    • Inflatable PFDs are not acceptable for anyone being towed behind a vessel.
  • In addition to the operator, a competent observer must be on board the vessel and seated in a position to observe the progress of the person being towed. A competent observer is a person who can assess when a skier is in trouble, knows and understands the water-skiing hand signals, and is capable of helping a skier.
  • If towing a person behind a PWC, these rules apply.
    • The PWC must be rated for at least three people—the operator, the observer, and the retrieved skier.
    • You may not tow more than one skier.
  • Ski tow ropes may not exceed the following lengths:
    • Conventional water-skiing—80 feet
    • Parasailing—300 feet
    • Nonreleasable kite-skiing—150 feet
    • Releasable kite-skiing—500 feet
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