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.
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
Vender Set Up
Temporary Structures such as tents, RVs, awards platforms
Trash & Recycling
Food and Beverage
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!