Whitewater paddling while fun, is also pretty dangerous. It’s important to make sure you’re comfortable paddling whitewater and whatever class you’re on. You want to make sure that you know the dangers and everything associated with whitewater paddle boarding before you get on the water. That being said, here is a tip to help you when you fall and need to safely get back to your board and managing your paddle and gear.
1. Look at your surroundings
The first thing you want to do when trying to get back to your board after falling off is to take a look at your surroundings. Asses your situation and see what your options are. Are you able to make it to shore? Are there any exposed rocks? Is there a rapid ahead? Figure out your situation and asses the best strategy to get back to your board.
2. Keep your feet up
The golden rule in whitewater paddle boarding is to keep your feet up. This is very important so that you don’t get your feet entrapped in the river. If you’re off your board and floating down the river (as seen in the video above) head towards the rapid feet first and above water. As soon as you get through the rapid you’ll want to flip over and position yourself into recovery mode.
3. Pull board towards you
As soon as you’re in the clear and away from any obstacles you’re going to want to grab your leash and pull your board towards you as fast as you can. If the deck of your board is under water your next step will be to move yourself towards the center of the board and flip it over.
Note: Trying to flip the board from either the nose or the tail will prove to be much more difficult than if you’re flipping it from the center.
4. Get back on the board
Once your board is upright you will need to grab the center handle and pull yourself back up onto the board. Once you’re back on the board either stand up and keep paddling or pull to the side to regroup and reassess your situation.
To reiterate a few key points from this tip:
- Never stand up in whitewater. Know your whitewater swim position and use it so you can avoid injury.
- Don’t let go of your paddle. If you let go of your paddle you’ll end up having to keep swimming in order to recover your paddle rather than getting back on your board safely.
- Make sure you have a releasable leash while on the river. This is key and recovery time goes down dramatically when a leash is utilized.
For more Whitewater SUP tips from Mike T, click HERE.