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Riverboarding basics

So maybe you saw the Nissan Xterra commercial with some quys jumping into a river with boogie boards and fines; or maybe you actually saw someone floating downstream, running rapids or surfing and wondered what is that? It's called riverboarding. Riverboarding is a completely different experience than rafting or kayaking. Instead of bouncing along on top of the water, you're in the water and because of your position on the board - small to medium rapids look much bigger. You increase the excitement level without increasing the technical difficulty of the adventure. Just try it - Ride a board - you'll agree, it's an awesome way to experience whitewater.

Basic gear includes helmet, wetsuit, personal flotation device (pfd), knee pads, booties, fins and riverboard. The first rule is to hold onto the riverboard. A firm grip on the handles is necessary to keep the board from sliding forward, away from you. The concave shape of RipBoard's riverboard keeps you from sliding side-to-side. It features maximum comfort with substantially more protection than the boogie boards featured in the Nissan Xterra commercial.

Steering a riverboard is done by using a freestyle or flutter kick. A strong one-legged breaststroke kick or frog kick with the hips up on the board causes the board to pivot or turn. A one-legged kick to the right, turns the board to the left and vice-versa. So use your opposite leg to turn the direction you wish. Most people forget to pull the fin up out of the water first (by bending at the knee), then kick out to the side. If you have kayaking or rafting experience, a board will take slightly longer time to maneuver so anticipate the water conditions and current.

To anticipate, look downstream 15-20 feet or further. In teaching we often tell people don't worry about what's 3-4 feet in front of you, set yourself up for water conditions 10 yards downstream. For beginners it's best to start in a calm stretch of water or eddy where one can get used to the board and turning. Only after one has the hang of steering the board, should you venture into whitewater.

We offer riverboarding instruction and rentals

Lessons and rentals are available at the Golden Whitewater Park (4 blocks west of 10th & Washington) on Clear Creek. A lesson begins with a thorough dryland introduction. This is followed by practice and technique development in a carefully selected calm stretch of water. For more information and rates click here. The vast majority of students learn the basics and begin enjoying Class II and III whitewater in under an hour. If you can't make it to Golden, CO - checkout RipBoard's Demo Days.

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