2016 #PassTheHandle Day: Recap, Photos & Video

With increased support from the WSIA, Bonnier Corp, and relentless efforts from event founders Zane Schwenk and Shaun Murray, the third annual #PassTheHandle Day was nothing short of spectacular on July 24, 2016.

New for this year, sponsors donated grant money, which went to social media marketing and mini-grants to eight different parks and schools around the US. This money covered gas and operational costs to host first-timers at no charge on July 24.


Bonnier Goes Big
The publishers of WAKEBOARDING and WATERSKI Magazine stepped up their game this year for #PassTheHandle, delivering 1.6 million impressions through a social media campaign including the audience with BOATING Magazine. Several new, exclusive videos were produced, including Shaun Murray’s “How To Teach Kids” as well as interviews with top pro riders on the Pro Wakeboard Tour. Cory Teunissen’s video performed the best. Watch it HERE.


The Boarding School Hits UCF
The most creative use of grant funding came from The Boarding School. This current “Camp/School of the Year” walked around the University of Central Florida campus, plucking random first-timers and treating them to a VIP experience at the camp in Bithlo, Florida. If you haven’t seen the video, be sure to check it out HERE.

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NMMA Support
The National Marine Manufacturers Association provided generous financial support again this year, promoting posts on Discover Boating’s social channels as well as DiscoverBoating.com. With over 6,000 likes on Instagram, 2,000 engagements on Twitter and 3,500 engagements on Facebook, this social campaign also delivered impressions to over 1 million people.


Action Wake Park Makes A Weekend Out Of It
Michigan experienced a heat have with blue skies on July 24, which made Action Wake Park the best spot to cool off in Grand Rapids. Tom Fooshee lent his skills for this two-day event, which was one of the most successful #PassTheHandle initiatives worldwide. “We had first-time riders from 6 to 50 years old.” Tom said. “It’s safe to say we taught over 60 riders throughout the weekend. Action hosted birthday parties, which boosted participation, and then we also had Liquid Force demos for experienced riders. We saw over 250 people on the water over the weekend.”


TSR Always Comes Through
Another huge supporter was Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas. Prior to the event, Blake Hess produced a video titled, “I Love Wakeboarding” to spread awareness. On the big day, the park hosted over 60 blind and disabled individuals and taught them how to ride, kneeboard and tube. With all three cables and the boat lake running, TSR helped make dreams come true on #PassTheHandle day.

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Classic Murray
In typical Shaun Murray style, this legend went with a “pay it forward” approach on Lake Folsom, California and posted a video on Instagram and Facebook leading up to the event.

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Zane Schwenk / Cypress Gardens Ski Team
There’s a reason why Zane Schwenk is a legend, and his ambassador skills are a big reason why. This #PassTheHandle founder hosted an event with the Cypress Gardens Ski Team in Winter Haven, Florida, designed for first-timers to get on the water. Zane said, “We taught 56 people in 3 ½ hours before the storm moved in.” Zane announced a career move to work for a major trucking corporation in Florida, but assured us that he will still be actively involved. “While I am out of the industry, my passion is not! I will still be involved with WSIA, so WEAR A VEST folks, and I will still push #PassTheHandle. Remember, teach someone new to ride as often as possible, give back to this AWESOME community and always remember, it’s your responsibility to protect it always!”

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Special thanks to the following sponsors: Bonnier Corp, Zane Schwenk, Jibtopia, Sammy Duvall’s Water Sports Center, Kent Watersports, Roswell, Kwik Tek, MasterCraft, Zup Boards, Nautique, Boulder Boats, ProtoMet, Charlotte Ski Boats, BoardCo, Liquid Force, Tommy’s, Malibu Boats, Minnesota Inboard




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The first Pass the Handle — Discover Water Sports Day took place on lakes world wide on July 26, 2014. The Pass the Handle project is an incredible awareness-driven concept drawn up by legendary wakeboarders Shaun Murray and Zane Schwenk, encompassing any towed-water-sport enthusiast to get out on the water and extend their passionate arm to people in need of an awesome activity.

The concept is simple: Find a buddy or buddies who don’t already take advantage of the amazing sports included under the towed-water-sports umbrella, and get them on the water. Take them out, teach them how to ride, and introduce them to the same fun lifestyle of being on the water that we enjoy. Our goal is to truly engage those already involved to “share the stoke” and teach as many people as they can to ride.

We would like this initiative to focus on safe towed water sports, and to eventually create a reward-based program to encourage those who are hyper enthused to help expand the sport by incentivizing them to teach more and more new riders. Although this is the first year of Pass the Handle, we expect this concept to grow legs and become the day that we can reach the masses, expand our user base, and get the general public more engaged in watersports.
When: July 26
Where: Worldwide
How: Ride anything on the water
◦ Ski
◦ Wakesurf
◦ Wakeboard
◦ Wakeskate
◦ Kneeboard
◦ Adaptive
◦ Cable park

• Social Info:
◦ twitter.com/PassTheHandle
◦ instagram.com/PassTheHandle
◦ facebook.com/PassTheHandle
◦ #PassTheHandle

Find an Event





Lake Tye, Monroe, WA – Friday, June 24, 2015
The Northwest Wake Surf Association and WA INT League host the Monroe YMCA for a Learn to Surf Day
Contact WA@intleague.com for more information.



If you are hosting an event teaching people outside your friends and family group, it may be a good idea to insure your event. The WWA offers a one day clinic insurance program for $100. Participants do not have to be WWA/INT members to participate in the clinic. More Information>

Legal Considerations – Releases

Releases are the Watersports Provider’s second line of defense and a very important consideration when planning an event. Running an event of any type without releases signed by participants, volunteers, workers and others is ill-advised.


The nature of special events can create special communication challenges. Organizers are often trying to communicate with winds blowing, PA systems howling and music blasting. The ability to communicate effectively under these trying situations heightens the importance of Watersports Provider’s management to have a well thought out communications plan in place. Radios are often necessary for communication with boats and remotely located staff.

Emergency Planning and Communications

It is recommended that Watersports Providers develop a specific Emergency Response Plan for emergency situations that may develop during an event. This may be part of the flow chart and organizational plan. Make sure that all event staff are aware of the plan and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Staffing the Event

Maintaining an appropriate staffing level is an important element in a successful event. A good rule of thumb is to err on the side of having extra staff. Consider the staff needed to promote safety for participants and spectators, and provide good service. Some other considerations include:
• Assign available staff to critical areas first. Remember that for on-water events controlling the waterway is paramount.
• Remember that communication with course workers is essential. Provide for two-way radios or cell phones. Don’t send staff out to remote locations without telling them whom to call and what to say in the event of an emergency.

Anytime you are considering using volunteers for an event, it is important to first consult your counsel regarding your state law on volunteers in the workplace. There are important issues involving the use of volunteers, such as providing workers compensation,
that may impact your decision. In addition, volunteers will often require rapid orientation and training. Most will not begin their assignment until the first day of the event. Be sure to build time into your schedule to train volunteers.

A well-organized volunteer recruitment campaign is essential to attract your volunteer staff. Allowing volunteers to choose their assignments will make them happier and more attentive to their duties.
Some other considerations for volunteer staff include:
• It is advisable to assign a Watersports Provider staff member to coordinate your volunteer program.
• Provide a written description of all job duties you expect the volunteer to undertake.
• Provide a written list of important Watersports Provider policies such as dress code and alcohol and drug use policies.
• Research your state labor laws regarding volunteers in the workplace and determine under what circumstances you may be required to provide workers compensation coverage.
• Make sure volunteers undergo similar training as paid staff for safety related matters such as machine operation (pick up boats, tow boats) and are trained on safety procedures.
• Make sure volunteers are required to sign an Event Release Form prior to the event.

Venue Selection

In general, select your venue and design your event with both participants and spectators in mind. For example for a barefoot tournament, a course that passes the main spectator area several times is preferable.
Other considerations include:
• When planning an event, a festive design for the event and design can increase attendance.
Keep in mind spectator/participant/volunteer parking, registration location, food and beverage
locations, spectator viewpoints. Consider purchasing or renting “look” elements such as flags,
banners, archways, scaffold wraps, sponsor banners, inflatables and other design elements.
• Impact on surrounding areas is an important consideration. It is a good idea to make a thorough assessment of the ways your event will affect other local services, groups or meetings (i.e., church services, youth groups, municipal bodies, police, fire, rescue, hospitals, water, sewer, lighting, sound, road and schools to name a few). It is a good idea to compare your proposed event days to calendars or schedules of as many other groups as possible. The local Chamber of Commerce is often helpful in providing this information.
• Printed collateral material, including maps, will be in demand by participants, spectators, your marketing personnel, official program producers and municipal groups issuing permits. A computer generated layout of your venue that allows space for drawing in staging areas, courses, and venue layout will be helpful. Attempt to make maps available at least several weeks before the event.
• Consider routing of Watersports Provider activity or traffic. For instance, if a main area, parking lot or building is closed to the public, consider placing signs that offer alternative routes and options to the guest. Also consider “Competition in Progress” – “Do Not Enter signs”. In some cases Buoys will need to be incorporated on the water to control recreational boating.
• Directional/base area signs can be valuable. Since much of your normal traffic patterns in the shoreline area(s) may be disrupted, you will need temporary signs telling participants and
spectators, as well as non-event guests, where services and access points are located. Common signs show the locations of restrooms, event registration, first aid/medical, lodging, event staging, results, awards, food and beverage and spectator access.
• Competition/event schedules should be designed to be flexible. Last minute weather conditions or other unforeseen issues may cause postponements or delays. (Always print this somewhere on the schedule). In competitive and other types of events, knowing how long it will take participants to complete the event is crucial to good scheduling.
• Clarify any necessary machine use (boats, four wheelers/ATVs, golf carts, motor vehicles and other off-road equipment) before an event.
• If boats are used to transport spectators or participants, a schedule of operation will be necessary. Check this schedule against the competition schedule carefully. Remember to factor in transfer time when scheduling portions of the event.

Event Set-up Considerations

Electrical Issues

Vender Set Up

Temporary Structures such as tents, RVs, awards platforms

Trash & Recycling




Food and Beverage

Emergency Situations

Emergencies may occur at special events. It is important that emergency procedures are in place for every possible scenario including multiple injuries, and stopping the event. Identify in advance who is authorized to stop or postpone the event.

*For a complete guide on hosting your own watersports event, please contact the Watersports Industry Association and ask for your WSIA Event Management Guide. The above is a synopsis, but does not cover all the details completely. Special thanks to the WSIA and Rietz Law Firm for sharing this information!