This is a concept I have only recently discovered. In the March issue of Get Out Chattanooga, I read an article that touched on this rule bending sport. According to research, the sport (SUP in general) seems to be growing fast; nearly doubling every year. The whitewater version, which uses a shorter board with elbow and knee pads is still only attempted by a small bunch of whitewater junkies.
Like all sports, there is a wide range of gear. Boards range from 9-foot whitewater boards to 14-foot racers. Most start with a 12-foot. Some are inflatable, while others are roto-molded plastic like kayaks. Comparing paddlers to cyclists – you’ve got your mountain bike and then you get your carbon fiber bike.
“It’s not as dangerous as it looks. Building your skill up with whitewater really isn’t that hard,” Tavares says. “As long as you play it safe and you don’t paddle out of your ability it’s really pretty safe.” Mike Tavares and his girlfriend Haley Mills have been enjoying the sport for 2 and 3 years, Mills trying it first. So far, with helmets and pads on their elbows and knees, the couple has made it through the rapids uninjured. (Johns 2012)
The board has a respectable amount of surface area, so it’s actually quite sturdy in the water. Being from Florida, I imagine a surf board, but the angles on the boards are entirely different.
Pros: burning legs & core, time in the sunshine and water
Cons: start up costs are well over $1,500 for the decent set up.
References: Johns, A 2012, ‘Standing Ovation’, Get Out Chattanooga, March, pp. 60-65.