Most people take paddle boarding as a recreational activity because that's what it appears to be most of the time. But the fact is things can get pretty intense with paddle boarding if that's what you want. If you ever wanted things to be more exciting, you can try white water paddle boarding. But it can be dangerous if preparations are not done properly. It takes more than knowing how to paddle board if you are paddling on whitewater. There are a few things you should know before taking on whitewater with your SUP board. If you want to give it a try, be sure to check out our safety tips below first.
Before actually taking on whitewater paddleboarding, it is important that you have all the necessary equipment. First-aid kit, mobile phone, radio, all need to be kept in waterproof plastic bags. Also, remember to pack up food and water. The attire will depend on how hot-blooded you are, but you can never go wrong with a wetsuit. Carry a personal floatation device and clip a knife just in case you get entangled on one of the restrains. Remember to bring along a whistle for emergency purposes.
Know Your Trip
Whitewater has several stages, depending on how intense the water is. You should be able to know what stages are suitable for your SUP since not all boards endure the same kind of whitewater rapids. Whitewater is classified into Class I to Class VI, with the latter having extreme waves and exploratory rapids.
Unless you have visited the river before, ensure that you carry a map, clearly showing all the natural features including rapids, obstacles, and the distance of your entire route. Before heading out, check the level of the water as they vary with seasons.
Be Aware OF Hazards
Once you decide to paddleboard on whitewater, you’ll need to be vigilant and aware of incoming hazards. Before plunging in the water, look for hazards that may flip your board like large boulders or a falling tree. Segment your trips into different moves and determine which ones are possible to maneuver. You should as well consider the possibility of getting ejected out of your board. When this happens make sure you have your leash on.
Watch out for eddies as they are your safe spot for relaxing when the waters become too bumpy. Typically, “U” shaped eddies are your best bet. If the eddies portray a frowning face, avoid heading that direction as you might get trapped.
Follow The Rapids
One big mistake rookie SUP’ers make while heading to whitewater is skipping the lower classes of rapids and start out with the intermediate levels. In essence, the easier levels may seem too easy but they set the foundation for more advanced classes.
Choosing The Right Board Is Crucial
There are a lot of different types of stand up paddle boards out there. As a SUP’er, an inflatable SUP board is best to begin with since they will bounce off rocks and obstacles. Additionally, inflatables weigh less than hard boards, which are typically heavier and tend to break when hitting a rock in the water.
Choose a SUP board with a larger surfaced deck pad. Generally, when paddling on murky waters, you will need to move around the board frequently to find the best position and you’ll want a top that has more traction as you try to get balance. A deck pad that shelters at least half of the front end of the board is the most suitable for whitewater. An inflatable paddle board like Goosehill SUP would be a solid choice.
You should consider fins that are low-profile to avoid getting entangled on obstacles. Paddleboards with a low fin allow you to surf on whitewater and helps you stay on the board even on knobby waters. 3-Fin setups are also suitable for paddling in such conditions as they prevent any hurdles associated with fin boxes.
Proper preparation can greatly lower the risk of danger when paddle boarding on whitewater. Knowing how to paddle board is far from enough for white water paddle boarding. So remember to follow the tips and have a nice white water paddle boarding session.
If you want to challenge yourself with white water paddle boarding, Colorado River is a great place for that. If you are a regular SUPer, try paddle boarding in San Diego or other common SUP spots. You can always have a great time on the water if you know what you are doing. Don't rush into white water paddle boarding if you are just learning how to paddle board. Take time to practice and be patient.