This article was originally posted in SUP Magazine Australia Ever tried River Supping ?? Enjoy !
It’s a glorious summer morning on the Yarra River just outside Warrandyte and we are about to surf rapids.
People walking their dogs and a sole sunbaker are interrupted as Jeff Lim, Nick King and I get into the water on our inflatable stand-up paddle boards.
A few more people gather on the bank, clutching lattes in polystyrene cups,
shaking their heads and looking genuinely worried as we paddle off to encounter our first obstacle – a small waterfall.
I too was worried on that first descent – about hitting logs and rocks that seemed to pop up as fast as the flow. A few objects grabbed the fins of the board and catapulted me onto the front of the board, but better that than a
rock, I thought!
The waterfall was ahead, so on the first attempt, I dropped to my knees and hung on. I made it down and was relieved that it was much gentler than I imagined. Surfing stories are normally set in remote places by the sea, not in rivers on the fringe of suburbia. Right? Well, not any more, thanks to the invention of the inflatable stand-up paddle board.These new big, soft boards are built specifically to crash down rivers and bump off rocks for a new breed of adrenalin junkie, the river surfer.
River surfing is virtually unknown in Australia but is gaining pace in Europe, with energy drink Red Bull cashing in on the action, sponsoring meets in Switzerland and offering prize money for surfers who survive class-five rapids.
Riding river rapids is a pretty advanced form of the sport of stand-up paddle surfing. (If you do want to go rapid riding after reading this article, make sure you learn how to paddle, take to the water with others and then make sure you have the right type of board and a leg rope.)
Stand-up paddle boarding down a river or in the surf is pretty difficult, but when you throw in logs, rocks and rushing water into the mixture it becomes an adrenalin-pumping adventure.
Surfing a small waterfall and surviving is as exhilarating as dropping into a big wave.
Jeff Lim, a Mornington Peninsula surfing veteran of 30 years and stand-up paddle board instructor, was first in the water and first to go down the rapids.
He looked like he was born for the job, calmly negotiating rocks and logs as they appeared.
“River ‘supping’ is another thing altogether. It looks easy until you start doing it,” he said.
“Many will get a great deal of fun but you need the right equipment. You can’t use a normal SUP, you need the flexibility of an inflatable SUP so you can bounce off rocks.
“It’s a challenging experience and tests your balance and reflexes.”
Nick King, who has been a “supper” for the past three years, admitted to being a bit nervous.
“The water was flowing nicely, so we took a good look, picked out the safest route and then we were on our way,” he said.
“I think in the near future we will see SUP rapids tours that journey all the way down the Yarra. It’s adventurous, exciting and heaps of fun.”