Letter: Education alone is not enough to stop wake surfing damage
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To the editor:
(Response to Karen Tolkkinen’s Feb. 4 article on wake surfing.)
Karen accurately stated the University of Minnesota St. Anthony Falls research conclusion that wake surf boats need to be greater than 500 feet away from shoreline, docks and other boats to decrease their wave height, energy and power to levels similar to non-wake surfing boats operating at 200 feet from shore.
However, Jason Lybeck from the marine dealership in Alexandria tried to suggest a 25 mph wind causes more damage to shorelines than wake surfing waves and pointed to research by the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) that cresting wake surf waves break down faster and supposedly do less damage than waves from wind. The problem with this statement is that wake surfing waves start off much higher than wind waves and even though surfing waves may break faster at first, they remain higher all the way to shore, smashing much higher up where wind waves never reach. The tsunami like wave loosens up soil and rock on the way up and then drags the eroded material back into the lake adding phosphorus that increases algae growth reducing water clarity. The wave can also damage docks, lifts, and boats along shore.
Jason suggests a few bad apples (wake boat operators) spoil it for everybody, but according to the new university research, any wake surfing boat operating less than 500 feet from shore or docks are creating waves greater than most normal speed boats at 200 feet. It has been suggested that education on boat etiquette would be helpful and I’m glad boat dealers do that, but just like other outdoor sports, education alone is not enough. As Dave Geddes from the Lake Ida Association suggests, we need regulations that keep wake surf boats at least 500 feet from shores and docks.