The popularity of waterskiing, particularly along the River Murray, can lead to overcrowding. When combined with the high boat speeds needed to waterski, there is a higher level of risk for all river users in that location.

To minimise risk a number of special rules apply to waterskiing. This includes keeping clear of other vessels and non-powered craft like rowing boats, canoes, and to being mindful of the effect of your boat wash.


  • Waterskiing is not permitted between sunset and sunrise.
  • No more than three people, or one device carrying up to three people, may be towed at one time.
  • .05 blood alcohol limits apply to skippers, observers and skiers as well as drug blood content limit restrictions.

Water skiers

  • Every water skier or person being towed in any other manner must wear an approved level 50 or 50S lifejacket.
  • A skier falling into the water must (unless injured) hold an arm or ski vertically in the air to signal their presence.


  • Both skipper and observer must be at least 16 years of age. A person between 12 and 15 years of age may only act as an observer if they hold a special boat operator's permit and the skipper is at least 18 years of age.
  • Waterskiing boats must carry an observer in addition to the skipper. The observer must continuously watch the skier and give the operator of the boat any directions necessary to ensure the safety of the skier.
  • The universally recognised hand signals (481.0 KB PDF) that the observer should know are in the SA Boating Safety Handbook.


  • Turns on leaving, approaching or in front of a take-off area must be made in an anti-clockwise direction, keeping to the starboard side of the waterway.
  • Boats leaving a take-off area must keep out of the way of boats arriving at a take-off area. This means that boats entering the take-off area have the right of way.
  • Ski ropes or skis trailing from a boat must be removed from the water before arriving at a take-off area.
  • Dropped skis must not be left in the water as they present a hazard to other traffic.
  • A boat must not travel within 100 metres of, or directly behind, a person who is being towed by another boat.

Related information

Other websites

SA Boating Safety Handbook - Department for Infrastructure and Transport

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Page last updated 8 April 2021

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