Originally Posted by earthNRG
Playboats have a steeper learning curve, but if you stick with it and learn fast, you'll likely do better in the long run. Unless you have a "go big or go home" attitude, the playboat will likely force you to stay on easier rivers until you have a solid paddling foundation and roll, simply because you won't be comfortable stepping it up. However, if you're easily discouraged, or don't learn quickly, then I would recommend you stick with the river runner.
This was my attitude towards learning, the more difficult the boat, the bigger the learning curve, the faster/better the skills were learned. As far as class of river to start in, maybe look at the consequences factor for eff ups. I'd pick no/low consequence runs at the high end of my abilities, throw myself in & get worked often. Basically that is what most play holes are... low consequences/high thrashing beatdowns & you can learn mad skills quickly. Of course if you want to keep your paddling partners... learn to T-Rescue as well, as if you swim too often & need to have you & your gear pulled out regularly, peeps will start "being busy" when you want to paddle.
have fun, get worked, have more fun!
ps one thing i see often & makes it really obvious it's a new paddler, is barely touching the surface of the water with a paddle blade running a rapid --> envietable flip to follow --> 50/50 on the swim. sink that blade in the water... get your wrist wet (you're not going to melt no matter how sweet your grandmother thinks you are) & learn how much stability you gain/have from your blade. the opposite is true for rolls... punch your sweeping hand outta the water, feel the air, then start your roll.