SUP in Whitewater?
So we know the sport of stand up paddleboarding (SUP) has been growing like gangbusters over the last decade. Heck, we are now seeing SUP enthusiasts all over the waterways and in the ocean. And why not? SUPs are very fun, easy to get started (assuming you have one large enough for your body size), and great exercise. Further, like a canoe or kayak, SUPs provide a great way to explore lakes and rivers that a trail or car simply can’t get you to. That said, there’s an even wilder application of SUP that really has my attention: whitewater SUP!
As a long-time whitewater enthusiast here in Oregon I have been organizing and running trips (with friends) down (primarily) the Deschutes River over the last two and a half decades. So many trips it’s hard to remember them all. Yet what really stands out as a highlight on any one of these trips is how fun it has been to run various rapids in different types of craft. Sure the big 14′ raft we rent is fun, but nothing beats taking the raft through a class III or IV rapid, parking it, and then hiking back up the shoreline to hit the same rapid in a $30 Target-quality 2-man raft. Helmet, upgraded PFD, wetsuit/drysuit required! Oh, and a certain amount of insanity. That said, it’s fun trying new stuff on the river…and now SUP folks are running whitewater just the same.
Video Courtesy: Waterlust
With a lot of rafting experience and plenty of action under my belt in the surf with an SUP, I plan to try whitewater SUP on an upcoming trip down the Deschutes this July. For now, check out some of these pictures and video. Perhaps you’ll find yourself out (first) on some local lakes or slow rivers, then perhaps the ocean (for waves) and then maybe in some whitewater. Many might initially think the ocean more dangerous, but being a long-time Oregon surfer, I’m here to tell you that the river is far more sketchy. Why? Because the current never stops. If you get stuck wrapped around a rock or submerged log, well, you’re in big trouble. At least in the ocean, once a wave spends its energy, you have a moment or two before the next one arrives. You can catch your breath in these gaps and get re-oriented on your board to move through it. In whitewater, well, this isn’t the case. So, make sure your skills are top-notch on your SUP before attempting whitewater.
Useful NW Links for SUP
Here are several links that may help you evaluate and get into the sport of SUP, on or off the whitewater! Yet be forewarned…don’t attempt either ocean or fast-moving river SUP until you have a solid amount of experience as well as the right equipment. See the resources below to get dialed in: