A press release from the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Friday stated that revised navigational restrictions will be put into place during the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout regatta event in late August.
After mulling proposed changes and comments from the public, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has announced its approval of the regatta permit for the 2017 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. The permit comes with some changes for the time trial speed boating event.
A press release from the MSHP on Friday stated that revised navigational restrictions will be put into place during the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout regatta event.
“The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout event has a long-standing tradition in the Lake of the Ozarks community,” said MSHP Colonel Sandra K. Karsten. “To permit an event of this size on a waterway, precautions must be taken to enhance public safety. Those precautions must be adjusted to reflect the growth of the event. Thus, the extended no wake area has been established.”
The no wake restriction for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout event includes the main channel from the 31.5-mile mark to the 36-mile mark. Due to the number of spectator vessels expected, the no wake restriction on Saturday, Aug. 26, is being extended.
The extended no wake area will be in effect from 2-5:30 p.m., and will include the main channel from the 31.5-mile mark downstream to approximately the 24-mile mark, shortly after which is a bend in the lake and then a few miles of bluffs along the north side of the waterfront.
The extended no wake area is in addition to the no wake restriction implemented for the event itself.
The extended no wake area will assist in maintaining a safe boating environment as the majority of the boating traffic exits the event in a downstream direction, the press release stated. This modification is designed to prevent property damage associated with the large amount of boating traffic returning downstream.
The no wake area for Sunday, Aug. 27, will remain from the 31.5-mile mark to the 36-mile mark in the main channel.
This extension of the no wake restriction area is the result of a public informational meeting in January 2017, according to the press release. The water patrol hosted a meeting on the issue in Osage Beach and solicited input from the community regarding potential changes associated with the speed part of the event.
The race days will take place on Aug. 26 and 27 this year with a significantly larger crowd expected on the first day. The patrol will conduct enforcement operations throughout the no wake restricted areas during the affected time.
It is not clear at this time how many personnel that will entail.
During the public hearing for the regatta permit in January, MSHP Water Patrol Division Director Captain Matt Walz admitted that they didn’t have troopers in place at the event in 2016 to maintain the no-wake zone, saying the officers were outnumbered and felt overrun. He added then that in 2017 they would supply the troopers necessary to shut the traffic down even if that meant placing fewer troopers at the event itself.
In response to followup questions to the June 16 press release, Captain Walz commented, “The enforcement will be done by our officers based on RSMo 306.132.1. I can’t give you the exact number of officers, but it is safe to say we will have numerous marine troopers in the extended no wake area during the affected time period.”
RSMo 306.132.1 states, “Any person operating a watercraft on the waters of this state shall stop such watercraft upon a signal of any member of the water patrol division and obey any other reasonable signal or direction of such member of the water patrol division given in directing the movement of traffic on the waters of this state.”
Notification efforts to make boaters aware of the no wake area are also planned. According to Walz, idle speed buoy markers will be placed in the water on the downstream end of the extended no wake area during the affected time period (in the vicinity of the 24 mile mark) to assist with notification. There will be banners displayed in the event area (during and at the conclusion of the race event) notifying boaters of the extended no wake area, in addition to the various media releases (including having the message relayed during any media broadcasts).
It should also be noted that the race days have also been changed slightly. On Saturday, the time trials will be held from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and on Sunday, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The water patrol has been besieged in recent years with complaints from property owners along the shoreline about damaged docks, broken cables and boat lifts caused by boats leaving the Shootout. The Shootout takes place near Captain Ron’s at the 34.5 mile marker, but the race course extends about a mile downstream and the related no-wake zone to near the 30-mile marker.
At the hearing in January, Walz told a small audience of the concerned public that an expansion of the no-wake zone was being considered.
He explained that expanding the no wake zone and extending the no-wake hours would help stagger the timing of how boaters leave the race course and the no-wake zone. Some boaters might leave before the race is over to avoid the wall of boats, while others might wait until the official end of the no-wake zone.
“We’re concerned about boating traffic and the difficulty for small boats to navigate in these conditions,” he said. “It’s a public safety concern, but we’re also concerned about property damage and we’re trying to address some of these issues.”
The popular event continues to expand and raise more and more money for the Lake community. At the hearing, Ron Duggan, committee member and owner of Captain Ron’s, estimated an economic impact of between $4 and $8 million for the Lake area, pointing out that $943,000 has been given back to more than 40 Lake-area charitable organizations and agencies in the last nine years.
“It’s a great event, and we want to keep it a great event,” Duggan said. “But we also want to continue to make it safe for everyone who comes and for our neighbors, because it’s our neighbors that are impacted.”