Questions about USAW Certified Drivers

Hey ballers, got a quick question. Are grass root water ski club drivers required to be USAW certified? I just recently joined a local water ski club, where our meetings consist of somebody volunteering to drive their boat through the public lake, course and give us pulls. We do not host competitions, do any trick skiing, or jumps. We only slalom. A week ago I went to the regular course expecting that the rest of the club would be their and somebody could give me a pull. I went and was greatly disappointed, because nobody was there, because "We did not have a Volunteered Driver." I saw a veteran club member, who was in his ski boat and asked him why we did not have a meeting if he was out skiing with his boat. He explained that he could not pull us because he was not a USAW certified driver and that club president had made a new rule that only certified drivers could drive the boats. He told me that in a small club like ours, that relies on volunteers needs to make volunteering easy (not require usaw driver certification) to allow the club to grow and not shrink. I have to say that I agree with him, and I was wondering your opinions or thoughts on the matter. Is this something that is a must have requirement or is it a nice liability safety net for the club?


  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,686 Crazy Baller
    edited June 2015
    OK, here's what I hear from you. Your club has a rule that only trained or rated drivers can pull slalom. Does you club sanction practice? If not, that's just a club rule and you need to see if someone with more common sense will see the error in that. On the other hand if it is sanctioned practice, in order to comply with USAWS and be covered, yes you must utilize a trained or rated driver. The designation you mentioned "grass roots water ski club drivers" is not a recognized category to my knowledge. If you're on public water, I can't see how the "club president" can have any control over what an individual does with his/her boat. What about someone who just rolls up on your course and skis? Does your president try to run them off? Does he tell them they have to be trained or rated? These rules seem very unenforceable on public water. Still, I refer to your club sanctioning your practices. That is a whole 'nutner thing.'
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • ncskierncskier Posts: 25 Baller
    @LeonL So like I said I am still new to this. All of us club members are required to purchase a USAWS membership, but I only has to be a grass roots membership, since many of us do not compete or jump off the ramp. We ski on a public lake, with an inflatable course that the club owns and has permission for by the local government and proprietary owner.
  • east tx skiereast tx skier Posts: 598 Solid Baller
    To repeat some of and supplement what LeonL said, it's basically about insurance coverage. It used to be that if the club purchased a USA Water Ski club membership and if its members were USAWS active or grassroots members, they would be covered under the policy if they were injured while using the club's course.

    About four years ago, USAWS changed this so that members skiing the course would only be covered if they were participating in "sanctioned" activities. Our club, like the club in the OP's situation was a practice only club. So, as the club presidentn, I just went on USAWS's web site and set up sanctioned practices for every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Members were required under the USAWS rules to keep a log of when they participated in "sanctioned practices."

    About two years ago, USAWS changed things again. Now, for members skiing the course to be covered under the USAWS club insurance, not did members need to be participating in sanctioned practices, they were also required to be pulled by a USAWS "rated driver." So a handful of us sent in information for background checks, took a written exam that basically determined if we had a lick of common sense, and participated in "on water" training. We also are required to pull 10 hours of sanctioned practice per year, which is reported to USAWS.

    At the time, my concern was that if we required this of our club members, we wouldn't have club members for too long. But, as LeonL mentioned, enforcing it was very impractical (our club courses are on leased public water). So what I did was tell the club members it was required, but that there was no way for me or anyone else to police it. Most importantly, they were told that if they were injured while skiing and they were not being pulled by a rated driver, they would not be covered under our club's insurance policy.

    I am no longer the club president having reached the end of my term. But during my time, I was far more concerned about nonclubmembers being injured by our little floating liabilities than I was for clubmembers being injured. That's a whole different insurance policy.

    One last thing, as a club, you cannot sanction practices unless at least one of your members is a rated driver.
    Perpetual Longline Baller and curvy ski boat owner.
    My real name is in my profile.

  • IlivetoskiIlivetoski Posts: 1,191 Crazy Baller
    If you're on public water, I would think USAWS would have enough common sense to realize that is impossible to enforce and should give you a completely different option. When I started skiing we didn't know there was a "club" at our lake. We just saw the course ams started skiing. As I assume 99% of new skiers on public water do.
  • east tx skiereast tx skier Posts: 598 Solid Baller
    At least on one of our courses, the entire lake is an "unauthorized skiing prohibited" situation on an otherwise public lake. But nonetheless, without running off half the club, requiring everyone's being a rated driver isn't something I'd want to enforce.

    On the other course, for years, we have locked a barrel in between two of the boat guides. Those are now gone, but policing it is not for me any longer (nor was it ever). If a stranger hurts him or herself on the course, it's another policy anyway.
    Perpetual Longline Baller and curvy ski boat owner.
    My real name is in my profile.

  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,345
    Point of clarification. A true "Rated" driver, ie Assistant, Regular, or Senior, is not needed for sanctioned practice or club events. For those, only a "trained" driver is needed. There is a difference in the requirements between the rated and trained.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • ncskierncskier Posts: 25 Baller
    Thanks for the input everyone. I talked with some club members the other night and we are now exploring other insurance options besides USAWS.
  • sunperchsunperch Posts: 293 Crazy Baller
    Our club also has insurance through for general liability. We used Wayne Feinberg (518) 891-2020 as our contact for the insurance.
  • east tx skiereast tx skier Posts: 598 Solid Baller
    @ShaneH Sorry for the misnomer. When they introduced this requirement, it stated as follows:

    "Effective January 1, 2013 all "sanctioned practices/exhibitions" must use Rated Drivers as towboat drivers throughout the practice event, except that driver trainees (as a part of a driver's training or instructional program) may tow skiers during a practice if they are
    accompanied (in the boat) and under the direct supervision of a Rated Driver."

    That's where I was getting the language. But to your point, it is the least advanced of the categorizations, which is now called "trained" I see.
    Perpetual Longline Baller and curvy ski boat owner.
    My real name is in my profile.

  • east tx skiereast tx skier Posts: 598 Solid Baller
    @scotchipman So that covers both participants and anyone who might be using the course without authorization? If so, I'll pass that along to current management. Thanks for the link.
    Perpetual Longline Baller and curvy ski boat owner.
    My real name is in my profile.

  • nam1975nam1975 Posts: 151 Baller
    Public lake, just go ski. Geez.....
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