Summit 2021 – Event Recap

Summit 2021 Virtual Industry Conference

Over 150 industry attendees registered for the WSIA Virtual Summit which took place on Zoom on Feb 23-24, 2021. With a goal to promote and protect towed water sports into the future, several committee meetings and seminars were hosted over the two-day event.

Our industry stepped up again with strong sponsor support from the following brands: Surf ExpoYamahaProtect Our LakesGatorStepOperation Wake SurfSeaDekRoswellBoatMate TrailersWet SoundsTripshock and Ken Cook Co.

Day one began with an introduction from WSIA’s executive director, Kevin Michael. He presented highlights over the last six months including mainstream exposure and industry trends and also gave a tribute to his father, Larry Michael, who was the first one to “Pass The Handle” to Kevin at six years old.

Larry said, “Water sports have been a source of joy for our family for three generations now. I want to offer my continuing thank you to the WSIA and their members for keeping our waterways safe, clean and open for all the activities that we cherish.”

WSIA President, Robert Oswell, was appointed in December and was pleased with the outcome of the event. “Of course, we would all rather be meeting in person, but I was very happy with the attendance and engagement from so many participants across the industry,” Oswell said. “A lot of these people didn’t have to be there, and were joining because they truly care about this industry and its future.”

Executive Director Kevin Michaels opens the virtual event and provides a brief presentation for attendees.

After a video reel from the Summit sponsors, the session ran right into the towboat committee meeting, hosted by chair Cory Dugger, with 85 participants. Waterway defense projects and Wake Responsibly were the main topics, and the committee also received updates from NASBLA and ABYC.

Version two of the Wake Responsibly Compliance Exam was released during the meeting and can be downloaded here.

Christina Paul from K&L Gates Law Firm provided legal counsel for all meetings and served as a resource, fielding questions and providing advice for WSIA members during these meetings.

The Towboat Committee covered waterway defense, Wake Responsibly and more, and got updates from ABYC and NASBLA.

The equipment committee, hosted by chair Pete Surrette, followed the towboat meeting and the audience of 36 participants learned about updates to WSIA’s warning labels, ASTM’s new endeavors, life jacket harmonization and more.

Pete Surrette and the Equipment Committee covered a range of topics.

The wake park committee has been a very engaged group, soliciting engagement from all parks to share best practices and navigate through tough issues including opening procedures after quarantine. Chair Mike Olson has taken a big step over the last few years as chair and invited Kellan Rudnicki from Aktion Parks to speak about grassroots marketing. 34 participants were on the meeting. Matt Belter also spoke about the state of insurance for parks and #PassTheHandle day was promoted for July 18, 2021. 

The Wake Park committee has been active and engaged and Kellan Rudnicki gave a great presentation on marketing and best practices.

Camps and schools committee began next, hosted by Brandon Lee with 30 participants. The committee is sharing best practices with each other and reviewing risk management procedures. Insurance and #PassTheHandle were discussed again here.

Brandon Lee and the Camps/Schools/Instructors Committee, covering best practices, risk management and more.

Day two started with a Waterways Seminar, hosted by Chris Bischoff and Larry Meddock. 53 participants learned more about Families For Boating, Wake Responsibly, and the state of wake sports in several regions across the US. Aquatic invasive species solutions were presented as well as info on special projects the WSIA is taking on.

The Waterway Protection seminar, hosted by Chris Bischoff and Larry Meddock was well-attended and packed with information about WSIA’s main programs.

Business ramped up with the Water Sports Foundation board meeting, WSIA Executive Committee meeting, and then the WSIA Board of Directors meeting. 

Jim Emmons lead the WSF Board of Directors meeting, giving a status report and showing a preview of their new website under development.
This year’s version of our big group photo!

On behalf of the entire staff of the WSIA, we would like to thank the sponsors and every single attendee for helping us promote and protect our great activities well into the future.


Videos from Summit 2021 are available online

  • The Welcome video and the Waterway Protection seminar are public
  • Committee Meeting videos require your annual member password