Paddlesports, in particular kayaking, come from the river; hucking waterfalls, weirs, charging big volume rapids and chucking moves while ‘surfing’ standing waves is what this sport has long been associated with.
Stand up paddle boarding meanwhile, although coming from the same family (SUPers use paddles for propulsion remember!), started life in the oceans of the world. Things though are starting to come full circle.
Kayakers looking for new challenges are grabbing stand up paddle boards and heading to the same spots they’ve conquered with their kayaks. SUPers meanwhile are taking note and also wanting a slice of the pie.
For anyone migrating from open sea venues to the river, surfing a standing wave is the obvious route to take.
These types of static recirculating torrents of water offer SUPers the chance for almost endless wave rides. In the best of spots you can even bang out the same kinds of manoeuvres that you would on a conventional watery wall; off the tops, re-entries, lip smacks and airs are all possible.
But even if you don’t have a clean river wave on your doorstep, heading off to your nearest lock gate, where the sheer speed and amount of H20 sluicing through narrow passageways causing this recirculating effect of water, is perfectly doable.
In fact SUPers who are riding these mushier types of river wave are taking inspiration from skimboarders and skateboarders – throwing down moves such as pop shuvits, ollies and flat spin 180s.
Huck ya SUP
The term ‘hucking’ is a kayaking phrase which refers to dropping waterfalls, gulley’s and weirs.
Fanging yourself off a steep precipice may seem an absurd act – particularly on a SUP – but riders such as Dan Gavere, a renowned paddlesport legend, are taking this practice beyond the realms of extreme (check the image at the top of this article).
A quick search online will reveal images of Dan taking on some serious heights and in a lot of cases he’s winning. The race is on to see just how high a stand up paddler can drop and remain standing – watch this space…
A recent story in American magazine ‘SUP the mag’ features Seth Warren describing his trip to Uganda with the aim of tackling the mighty White Nile.
For those not acquainted, the White Nile is renowned among paddlesports aficionados as being one of the most extreme white water locations on the planet.
The plan for Seth was to take on some of the giant rapids that pump through this part of the world and although he got off to shaky start, eventually he began to dominate; in the process proving that river running on a SUP doesn’t just involve falling off.
In fact, in small pockets around the world, taking on the might of certain ferocious stretches of water is proving no longer to be the sole domain of paddlers who sit down. With enough skill, knowledge and experience it’s possible to successfully run some of the most notorious lengths of water in the world – standing up!
Racing in whitewater is another area of the sport that is slowly gaining popularity. Battling for top podium spots while dealing with the challenges of moving H2O is a scenario which is grabbing paddlers’ attentions more and more.
If you’ve raced on the flat and/or in waves then rivers are the next logical venues. Pitting your wits against fellow competitors and the river could be the ultimate SUP challenge?
A lot of what has been described is whitewater SUP at its most extreme. It doesn’t however have to be this for ‘normal’ SUPers.
Taking your stick on less life threatening whitewater stretches is perfectly viable for any stand up paddler with an advanced intermediate level of skill.
Certain precautions need to be taken beforehand such as scoping out the spot in question, carrying a thrown line, wearing a float jacket and helmet – which may seem overkill, but underestimations of whitewater venues could spell disaster.
As stand up paddle boarding continues its momentum, anywhere with access to water, moving or otherwise, will no doubt grab people’s imaginations. The versatility of SUP is one of the appeals and a discipline without limits should be championed.
If you’re a paddler looking for a new challenge then perhaps whitewater could be it? Grab your Loco stand up paddle board and head for the froth…