Larger, More Powerful Waves

Concord—February 18, 2022—A much-anticipated study has confirmed what many boaters have long observed—waves produced by wakesurfing boats are measurably larger and more powerful than waves created by non-wakesurfing boats.

Under the direction of the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, the peer-reviewed study measured maximum wave height, total energy, and maximum wave power of two wakesurfing boats and two non-wakesurfing craft operating under a variety of typical lake conditions. [An FAQ on the study can be found here].

What the researchers found was that wakesurfing boats produced wave heights two to three times higher than traditional boats, wave energies six to nine times stronger, and maximum wave power six to twelve times more powerful.

Using the study’s data, the report concluded that wakesurfing boats would need to operate between 425 and 500 feet from shore in order to have the same wave dispersal pattern as non-wakesurfing boats. State law currently allows all powerboats to operate 150 ft. from shore.

The research was conducted in part because of the boating industry’s continued objection to limits on where and how wakesurfing boats can be operated, even though its own studies show the craft are more impactful than other types of boats.

Research sponsored by the Water Sport Industry Association (WSIA) in 2015 found wave heights for wakeboarding were 43% higher than when the same boat was cruising and not towing a boarder. Waves for wakesurfing were 114% higher, using the same comparison.

Further, the WSIA study found waves from wakeboarding generated 179% more wave energy than waves from the boat when cruising, and 720% more energy for the same boat when wakesurfing.

Residents of long, narrow Berry Bay have long complained of violations of the state’s 150 ft. rule, especially by owners of large-wake boats. GIS Map

The new University of Minnesota study is especially useful to the debate by defining what would be needed to reduce the impact of wakesurfing boats’ waves to approximately the same as that of non-wakesurfing boats, namely more than doubling the current 150 ft. set-back.

On Ossipee Lake, most complaints about large-wake craft have come from Berry Bay, whose residents have documented waves causing shoreline erosion, damaging smaller craft and creating hazards to young swimmers. But complaints have come from elsewhere as well, in places where the lake is narrow and places where boaters have only a narrow field of operation because of overcrowding.

Proposed Legislation
A 15-member state commission appointed by the governor in 2019 to study large-wake watercraft agreed on common sense measures including having a “spotter” on board and requiring boarders and surfers to wear a life jacket—requirements long on the books for waterskiing.

But the commission’s members deadlocked on whether to allow the public to petition the state to limit large-wake boats in specific locations on a case-by-case basis.

An NH LAKES-supported bill (HB 1071) requiring wakesurfing boats to operate 250 ft. from shore had a hearing in the House of Representatives on February 9. Close to 700 individuals registered their support online or testified in support of the legislation, according to an NH LAKES spokesperson.

The House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee will discuss the bill in executive session on February 23.


  1. Jimbeckwith 2 years ago February 18, 2022

    We are on Broad Bay in freedom nh.The waves from those boats is terrible and is and has been destroying our beach and our enjoyment on the lakeside.They should not be allowed on such a small bay

  2. Sally Hayden 2 years ago February 18, 2022

    I agree totally. Been on Broad Bay since 1950’s. My beach has taken its toll in the last ten years.

  3. john hood 2 years ago February 19, 2022

    I totally agree with what u are saying I to have water frount property o Leavitt road and always getting abused from disrespectful boaters, ,, a lot of they show no respect and the results ends up to the damage to our property devaluation it
    we should go to our town hall and demand a tax breaks
    the marine patrol do a good job but there are two few of them some thing has to be done , when I have family and young grand children up visiting for a good time and ask for a boater to slow down and they give me a italian salute it dose not set well with me

  4. Wake Boat Person 2 years ago February 19, 2022

    So here is my take on this. Yes wake boats have the image of a college fraternity on a family cal de sac and yes they create a larger more powerful wave. However, those waves are nothing compared to the waves hitting the beaches of Broad Bay during the busy hours of the day. If there is going to be a restriction on wake boat operation there needs to be a speed limit set during busy hours in order to cut down on the waves that are causing more damage than the 10 or so wake boats that are on the lake. I will say there is no reason for a wake boat to be towing on Berry Bay or Leavitt Bay. They are much to small. All I’m saying is wake boats aren’t the problem. The increase in boaters is. One boat going by a few times creating 3-4 rollers per time isn’t going to do much. But 100 boats all going in different directions at noon because they need to get home for a turkey sandwich is creating tidal waves. I can sit on our docked boat and watch wake boats having a good time and their waves don’t bother me but I can’t say the same about lunch time rush hour waves.

  5. Elaine 2 years ago February 20, 2022

    I am a avid swimmer on Berry Bay and boating courtesy has gotten worse every year!! Water skiing on the lake at 7:00 AM. You wouldn’t mow your lawn at the time. Common courtesy!! I had human feces wash up on our beach in a plastic Hannaford bag. When I swim most boaters do not stay the regulated distance!! Berry Bay is just to small for wake boats and inconsiderate boaters!!!

  6. Concerned resident….. 2 years ago February 22, 2022

    As a 3rd generation waterfront homeowner, while I understand the concern about the wake boats, I feel the most imminent problem is the actual number of boats on the lake on any given weekend! While I understand everyone has the same right I do to enjoy and be on the lake, I find more and more ignorant, inexperienced and careless shitheads every year! Just go drive by the public boat ramp, I think they need to start charging $25+ to launch there. While the majority of people who use it are respectful and care about the lake, there are more and more who don’t care at all. They come, get hammered all day, ignore no wake zones, cut you off, then worst of all they have nowhere to go the bathroom, so they pee and poop and leave their trash all over the place and at the end of the day they don’t care, because they won’t be there the next day or whenever to clean it up.
    It’s the only thing I can think of to deter some people from coming and trashing this beautiful lake!

  7. tj236 2 years ago March 1, 2022

    The reason for water skiers skiing “early” in the morning is there is no other safe time to actually practice “real” slalom waterskiing. Slalom water skiers cannot ski through rolling waves safely. Also, slalom skiers can’t ski unless the boat travels in a straight line. True slalom skiers require calm water and straight boat travel.
    We started slalom skiing on other areas of the lake in the 70’s. As our skills improved we began skiing competitively around buoys which again, requires a straight direction of travel and calm water.
    As public launches have been developed and more fishing tournaments’ and the general boating population has increased the slalom skiers of old have had to seek out specific times and safe places to continue our sport. We “discovered” Berry Bay back in the 80’s as a perfect spot to ski and have never had any real issues doing so.
    There was for a short time a slalom course permitted for us to use in Berry Bay. It was continually damaged by other boaters and consequently removed.
    Many boaters in Berry Bay who tow tubes, skiers, wakeboards ect do so by driving in a circular fashion therefore increasing the wave size and action. Slalom skiers drive in a straight line a specific length and stop -turn the boat around slowly and head back along the the exact same path we started. This minimizes wave/wake size for skiing and minimizes the waves size rolling up along the shore.
    Our ski boats are designed to create the smallest wake possible. Wake and surf boats are designed to do just the opposite. The wake boarders and surfers require much larger wakes to perform their sport.
    We do everything we can to be safe and courteous to the lake, residents and other boaters. Often we will leave the area if there are other boaters present to avoid any safety issues. We alternate with other skiers so no one boat dominates usage. The time spent actually skiing (not including prep and skier changes), depending on the number of skiers in the boat, is about 10-15 mins. We try to get in and out of the bay quickly. Trust me we would rather sleep in and ski later in the day but if we wait to ski later in the day we wont be able to ski at all.
    We have occasionally noticed random swimmers in Berry. As a point of safety it is difficult to see a swimmer especially if they do not use a swimming buoy/marker however we are aware of swimmers and kayakers and do our best to proceed with caution.
    On another note the “rafting” disease that has taken over the sandbar and Long sands seems to be migrating into Berry as well (Ligouri’s beach). Many of theses boaters are drop in’s and don’t have any regard for the lake itself (hence the human feces in Hannaford bag). There has most definitely been an uptick in trash, milfoil ect since the states drive to expand lake usage. Most all the slalom skiers live on the lake and have been there for decades. We have a vested interest in preserving our lake and sport. I apologize for disturbing anyone who lives Berry Bay but I’m not sure what other options we have to use the lake in the way we have been for over 40 years.
    Slalom skiers are a small community. At least here in Ossipee but we have been around for a long time. Many of us obtained lake property just to be able to waterski. We are not trying to take over or drive anyone away. We just would like a little time to ski and then get out of everybody’s’ way.


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