31 Oct

BWS Affiliation

East Suffolk Wakeboard and Water Ski Club have been affiliated to British Water Ski for many years but is it time to break the connection?



This question has been asked several times before and we have always remained affiliated. I am not sure if circumstances are different now or if it is just time to ask the question again.

What’s been done so far?

In the Summer, we were visited by the chief executive of BWS, Patrick Donovan. The purpose of the visit was to discover whether BWS could offer us anything to make our affiliation more viable. We had a very interesting discussion and showed Patrick the launch slipway, the jetty, where we ski and our general setup so that he could get an overall picture of how we operate. He was able to see the severe limitations we face compared to lake skiing clubs with premises,  commercial interests and all round good water. Despite a good, frank discussion, he was unable to suggest ways to give us more benefit from our affiliation.

What is the current deal?

The terms of our affiliation state that we must join every one of our members to BWS and we must pay an affiliation fee of around £550. This totals about  £1500 that we pay BWS, depending upon the number of members. In return for this, each of our members receives BWS membership and where relevant, their SBD2 is validated (SBD2 qualifications require BWS membership to be valid). As a club, we receive liability insurance to cover the club and committee for all the usual issues like being sued for negligence. As we are a SBDA centre, we can also test our own drivers and issue SBD2 and International certificates of competence (ICC).

What happens if we leave?

If we leave BWS, then we will need to buy our own insurance to cover liabilities and we will have to decide how as a club we regulate safety and boat driving. Without this, we will be in a very vulnerable position if anything bad happens whilst the club is operating. Generally speaking, insurance policies these days require a lot of paperwork to back up club safety issues, risk assessments, vulnerable people procedures and many other eventualities, so there is a fair bit of work for us to do to get us into a satisfactory legal position. With the end of BWS year being March, we have a lot of work to do before March if we exit after this season.

We have researched insurance policies and it seems that we could get cover for around £600 as long as the paperwork is in place.

If we no longer have the protection of SBD2 qualifications, we would need to replace it with something like RYA level 2 powerboat or possibly develop our own method of testing drivers. We could of course carry on testing to the same methods as BWS, but we would not be able to offer ICC or SBD2 after the testing.

Please let us know your thoughts.