ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Wakesurfing is gaining popularity on Minnesota lakes, but critics say it erodes shorelines, affects water quality and disrupts other lake users.
Wakesurfing boats have a hull specifically designed to produce a large wake, and a ballast tank that can be filled with water to add more weight to create a textbook curl, the Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
“These boats just have a vastly larger capacity to have an impact, because they make more wake,” said Jeff Forester, executive director of the nonprofit Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates.
Modern wakesurfing began thriving nearly a decade ago and its appeal has continually increased. Wake boats are now one of the fastest-growing sectors of the powerboat industry.
“It’s been kind of a growing sport for a long time,” said Scott Nowak, a sales consultant for MarineMax in Excelsior. Nowak added wakesurfing is attractive because it’s a low-impact activity that virtually anyone can do.
But some residents contend that the boats and their large wakes are simply too much for smaller lakes.
“These waves are three to four times as powerful as skiing or wakeboarding or tubing,” said JoAnn Syverson, who lives on Lotus Lake near Chanhassen.
Syverson said she frequently sees waves from wakeboats crashing into the shore of her small lake. She’s concerned they’re contributing to erosion along the lakeshore and stirring up sediment at the bottom of the lake.
Syverson is part of a mounting list of lake residents protesting that wake boats are having an adverse impact.
She and others established a group, named Safe Wakes for Small Lakes, advocating for wake boat regulations. They contend large wakes have knocked over small children and have made it frightening to be in a kayak or canoe.
“My dock is damaged,” said Donna Burt, another Lotus Lake resident. “We’ve had to put our boat up on a lift. We are losing (shoreline) vegetation that is just falling into the lake.”
Larry Meddock is chair of the Water Sports Industry Association, which represents about 400 manufacturers of tow boats and equipment. Meddock said the boat industry is cognizant of criticism against wake boats, and has since launched a campaign that seeks to get boaters to “wake responsibly.”
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