Paddling whitewater on a stand up paddle board is a spectacular good time. Like any action sport, there are hazards to be aware of, and education and knowledge of the river section you are completing is a must.
Whitewater paddleboarding is great because it can make even a class 2 section thrilling – it’ll breathe new life into sections that you had become tired of in other watercraft. No matter how you do it, there are some simple things you can do (and not do) to make sure you are safe.
The following is a list (by no means exhaustive, but a good start) of things to consider when whitewater paddleboarding. Please email us with any additions you’d like to see – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Learn proper whitewater safety skills know how to be a safe “swimmer” in whitewater.
- The seats that fit some of our boards must be properly secured to the board if you choose to stand up with a seat attached. All of the straps must be fully tightened, and no loops can be open. Your goal in securing the seat is to make sure there are no loops or straps that could trap one of your limbs.
- Go with a friend, and look out for each other. Duh!
- A leash – DO NOT attach a typical surfing leash to your leg and the board. Leashes can be super dangerous! Your leash (if you choose to wear one) MUST be releasable in an INSTANT, from a device that is attached to your PFD. A leash that attaches to your leg with velcro is not a quick release leash – if you go around a rock on one side, and your board on the other, you might not be able to reach your leg to undo the leash.
- If you don’t have a leash that releases, DO NOT use a leash on whitewater! (Out in the OCEAN, a typical leash is good, and, if you are way out and the wind tries to blow your board away, you’ll be glad you had it!)
- Go with somebody that knows the river, or scout well and get good beta!
- If the water is cold, be prepared – use a wetsuit or drysuit when the conditions call for it! Cold water limits your ability to swim unless you are properly insulated. Our friend Aaron Koch says that, if you add the air+water temperatures and they are below 100 degrees, use a drysuit… We agree!
- Use a proper PFD (personal flotation device) and HELMET
- When you fall, don’t try to land on your feet. Try to fall your body back on the board, or fall sideways in to the river. This is just another tip to avoid foot entrapment and to keep you from rolling an ankle. Eveybody falls – trying to fall “correctly” will keep you smiling!
- Most of all after taking all of this in to consideration, go out and have some fun. Leave the ego at home, smile, laugh and play… Falling is part of learning, and interacting with the water is the best part. Whitewater SUP is just too much fun!