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Old 05-20-2008   #1
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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River Surfing (con surfboard)

If any of you have used a surfboard on a river feature before, how similar is it to ocean surfing? Is it a lot harder than say, long boarding on shoulder-to-overhead ocean waves? What length of board works best?

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Old 05-20-2008   #2
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
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I've seen a surfer tear it up at Diagonal Ledges on the Lower Gauley. He said it was way harder, but he did get to where he could stand up and cut back and forth a little.

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Old 05-20-2008   #3
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Bozeman, Montana
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first off short board and long boards in the surfing world are nothing alike, just like kayaks. your shorter boards are what you will need on the river and take much more skill than your long boards usually have more fin and a greater rocker. in the river it is different because in the ocean you are always trying to keep ahead of the break and in the river unless you are on the zambezi its like surfing your kayak on a little wave.
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Old 05-20-2008   #4
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There was a pic of Hobie on South Canyon a couple years ago. I think I've seen shots of longboards on Big Sur.
"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 05-20-2008   #5
Avon, Colorado
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Hobie is the man on the surf...seen him at Snake river (alpine canyon, Jackson) 3 years ago and pics at South Canyon. Looks hard as hell. in jackson he was on a medium sized board i believe.
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Old 05-20-2008   #6
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Salida, Colorado
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Pueblo is really good over 1700 or so. Salida goes as well.
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Old 05-20-2008   #7
Laramie, Wyoming
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The fact that river features are static made the whole wave catching, standing up, getting established process far easier for me. The biggest factors making river surfing easier than ocean surfing I found were the fact that you don't have to be working your ass off and watching to make sure that you're in the right place at the right time to be on or near a shoulder. Also, on the river you're standing up on a really mellow face, never something that's heaving up vertical underneath you. Basically surfing on a river has a very 2 dimensional feel to it, you are on pretty much the same plane of the wave and can get really long rides and make some fun turns. As far as boards go, I've seen people on Lunch Counter on the Snake on up to 8' fun boards, but you're constantly watching the nose to keep from pearling into the trough in front of you. I've surfed mostly on short boards, the best of which being a 6'3" fish, which handles the slower speed of a river wave better and is still short enough to whip around on a small little wave.
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Old 05-20-2008   #8
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first off short board and long boards in the surfing world are nothing alike
^^ This is a ridiculous, clueless statement. For longer than I've been alive, shapers have been tweaking rocker/rails/fin setups/thickness/widths/etc & creating short/long hybrid boards that allow people to catch & rip smaller, mushier waves on shorter boards. Lots of people surf "high performance egg" & "Fish" shapes for that reason.

As far as difficulty, it's gonna depend on the wave you wanna surf, but overall, river surfing's a little easier, at least in terms of the actual "surfing" part of it. Once you figure out your spot, your entry, your downstream escape, & can stand, the rest of your ride isn't going to be as dynamic or reactive as it would be on an ever-changing ocean wave. Catching the wave is basically the same thing minus the whole "wave selection" part of surfing in the ocean -- paddle in, establish plane, pop, maintain -- but a main difference is that on the river you don't have a critical time constraint for establishing plane & standing. If you want to belly ride for 30 seconds before standing, you can do that, which you can't on ocean waves. At Lunch Counter in JH, you dive right onto the wave from the river left shore, plane out, surf.

Just like with ocean waves, you choose your board based on the wave you wanna surf. There's river waves you can surf with a traditional longboard/egg -- think wide, deep river & not a steep, pitching wave (Big Sur comes to mind). You could also take a thruster to a bigger, steeper, faster wave & do bottom turns & cutbacks.

Here's a story w/ pics & vid of a dude I know who likes to surf Skooks: a few words with safety man Steve Fagan on Bathtub Racing, the Billabong Odyssey and surfing Skookumchuck with Elijah Mack - Surfing Vancouver
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Old 05-20-2008   #9
KVBA TV8 Vail weatherman/Colorado Kayaker, Colorado
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It is close depending on the wave. Example: Lunchcounter is close due to its shape, size and consistancy and ability to drive down the line as it is fairly long. It is pretty easy to catch too as there is a sweet spot to dive off of that puts you right on it.
South Canyon is a tough one as it surges a good bit and is more difficult to get on if you have never seen someone do it. It is the trickiest river wave I have surfed yet.
The new spot in Glenwood is good for surfing and at lower water the right size was really easy to get on and stand up. Im headed down today as the water is higher and it looks really fun
As for similarity they are close but learning on the river is kind of tough. Not to much room for error and it can be frustrating. That said I watched Max Mancini catch south canyon on his 2nd try! Kayakers learn pretty quick as they understand how to surf a river wave and that helps a ton when figuring out how to dive down or get to the top of the wave in order to stay on.

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Old 05-20-2008   #10
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Bozeman, Montana
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todd g why are you so quick to attack man to say a long board surfs like a short board is saying i can blunt my jefe like my agent? not going to happen. you can blunt a river runner alot easier which is basically your hybrid.
i simply compared his original experience of long boarding to short boarding.

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