Time to Think SUP River Surfing

Some Basics for Riding River Waves on a Stand Up Paddle Board

When I hear snow on the mountain, I think spring melt and fantastic waves that are waiting for the SUP River Surfer. When I think of riding river waves on a stand up paddle board, two boards come to mind: The Pau Hana Oahu 10’ SUP and the Riviera 9’2” NUGG Surf SUP. Both of these boards can be described with the same word: steady. This is exactly what you need in a river surf SUP to master some of those stationary waves in those spring rivers. So let’s start with some basics that will give you a safe ride time and again.

Pau Hana Oahu SUP

Pau Hana Oahu SUP is a great all around performer in river surf situations.

River Surfing on a stand up paddle board requires some basic equipment. In no order of importance because each of these suggestions are of equal value and are absolutely necessary.

River surfing presents some basic problems that you may not ever encounter on the open ocean or in a flatwater situation. Shallower water with unseen obstacles mean a helmet (like the Shred Ready tDub) is required. Depending on where you live and when you decide to surf, a wet suit or a dry suit should be considered.

It should go without mentioning but I will: all forms of stand up paddle boarding require some sort of personal floatation device or PFD. In open water situations, your paddle board is considered a vessel by the Coast Guard (and they require some additional equipment be on board as well). For river surfing, consider the front pack but if you already own something like the MTI Fluid Inflatable PFD, it will work just fine (just remember to connect the CO2 cartridge – it doesn’t come ready to use out of the package until you do).

You should also consider flexible fins. We spent some time discussing these fins as a way to keep your board safe from flatwater situations where shallow water is encountered. It is also a great option when your kids or beginners borrow your board. But those same shallower conditions exist in river surfing situations and as we’ll learn later on, can give you some amazing options for mastering these stationary waves.

And lastly, the Badfish Whitewater ReLeash. This incredibly important item links to your PFD and provides a quick release should you become snagged. When this happens and everything on the river seems to happen faster, you may not be able to reach your ankle strap. The ReLeash provides a quick draw carabineer that will free you. Once that board is under load, the tug will activate a snap shackle release that gets you out of a tough situation.

To successfully master a stationary wave, you need a board that is both stable, wider, and shorter. Ironically, these boards are a perfect fit for beginners, women, and kids. Boards like the Riviera 9’2” NUGG is designed with just the right amount of rocker. The round tail and V shaped bottom give it an excellent response in any wave. Along with the two plus one fin system, where you can change out your fins for a variety of more advanced thrust configuration make this board an excellent choice. Did I mention that it is stable?

I mentioned the Pau Hana Oahu 10” SUP as well. This board is just a little bit longer than the NUGG and is just as versatile as an all-around family board as well. This board is a true nose rider and although this is a preferred board for ocean waves, rivers succumb to the spooned out nose and wide tail giving the rider excellent control. It also has a two plus one fin system giving you the chance to upgrade your experience.

Next up, we’ll discuss some of the basics for river surf SUPing.

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