The Physics of Hydrospeeding
Life on a river is similar to picking your vacation destination. You can go with a calm trip with plenty of relaxation, a busy itinerary packed to the brim with activities or a mixture of the two. And when you go hydrospeeding, you can also pick the mood of your ride when you select the type of rapids you want to meet. Rapids are distinguished by difficulty to navigate, from class I through the impossible-to-ride class VI. Class I rapids are easy, small waves, while IV or V are more violent and difficult to ride. The higher the class, the more you need to factor in the hydraulics of the river.
The hydraulics, or behavior of water over obstacles, is affected as water flows over those obstacles, such as logs and rocks. This can create unpredictable situations where a swimmer might be pulled under water. However, it also creates opportunities for whitewater athletes with hydrospeeds in hand to use the hydraulics to perform tricks and ride the rapids.
What does this mean? This means that where a lone swimmer may have a hard time fighting the hydraulics of a river, folks out hydrospeeding can use their boards to stay afloat, steer and protect their bodies. The board provides added buoyancy, or ability to float, in the river, which keeps the individual on a horizontal plane on top of the water -- meaning he or she won't get sucked down by the hydraulics.
With this added buoyancy, your ability to ride down a river and use the physics of the water flow to your advantage is enhanced. In fact, this is known as "reading the river." Reading the river involves three steps, as follows:
- Approach: Line yourself up along the path you want to take to enter the rapids, overcompensating when needed to ensure you avoid obstacles like logs. Then, watch your route as you go so you can adjust in time if needed.
- Entry: Enter the rapid where planned, as it will be challenging to change your route now.
- Rapid: Now, hold onto your board, lift your legs, steer and ride your rapid!
Think you're ready to read a river yourself? Continue to the next section to pick up some tips to get started.