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The Beauty Of River Surfing

Surfing in the river translates so well to the ocean, because you’re still paddling on the board, popping up on the board, and riding waves. Yet... it's now quite the same.

You’re not paddling out into the ocean and waiting. The wave is always there, so you can ride for as long as you can stay on the wave. On good waves, that’s forever.

River surfing also requires traditional ocean surfers to learn new skills: there is no time to get up and let the wave approach you – river surfers have to be riding the second they are pushed from the slack-water into the moving water – and movement is lateral rather than up and down the break. Holding your position in the narrow confines of the wave is the challenge.

When the snow melts, the rivers swell up, and the waves become more powerful, the surf is up in place like Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Idaho. The last places you would expect to find a surf spot.

Surfing a river wave is like doing acrobatics on a really fast treadmill.

This sport is definitely not for everybody. River surfing requires an incredible amount of balance, focus and bravery. If you fall off your board, you must know how to navigate the river without crashing into rocks, and how to make your way to a nearby eddy—because any river play without a life jacket is scary river play. But I guess, with the proper training and enough persistence, you can learn the basics in no time. 

You'll need a different board too. Boards specifically designed for river surfing are thicker, shorter, and more buoyant. Snow fed river waters are freezing. Leave your "shorty" at home till your next tropical vocation. Get something thicker and warmer, like Patagonia's R4 ( the warmest wetsuit in the world ).

While it bears some resemblance to traditional surfing, river surfing is a unique and diverse sport that land-locked water junkies have zeroed in on. While it is both fun and exhilarating, it can be challenging and dangerous.

But these are also the reasons what makes river surfing so attracting...

Photos are courtesy of Paolo Marchesi Photography

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