The open river is calling, and you're ready to get started? First, you need to have substantial athletic endurance and be a strong swimmer. Therefore, your first task is to take swimming lessons if needed.
Your second task is to get started safely. Venture out into calm water to test your skills. The board should end at the bend in your waist, freeing your legs. Roll around on your board to get the feel of it and practice for balance. Use your upper body for balance and steering; use your lower body for steering and movement forward. Practice kicking hard, stopping and turning.
Once you're comfortable, move to short class III rapids. Become familiar with how the water pushes and pulls you. If you flip backwards, move up on your board more. In this safer environment, practice falling in to see what that's like. Don't forget to read the river, as explained in the previous section.
After you have built up a strong relationship with hydrospeeding and ridden some stronger rapids, you may be ready to perform some whitewater tricks. You'll find you have some nice trick options available to you -- all with fun names like boogie surfing and el rollo. If you're out with a guide, talk to them about these tricks and other ones you might be ready to add to your lineup. Here's a quick description of boogie surfing and el rollo to get that conversation rolling like the river you're riding!
- Boogie surfing: Sometimes, the hydraulics of a river create a "hole" as the water flows over an obstacle and back down onto itself. In these areas and others with rapids similar to the ocean, you can potentially go boogie surfing and ride in one place. Enter from the side of the hole and make a 90-degree turn back to facing upriver -- kicking and keeping the board's front above water as you turn.
- El rollo: In an el rollo, you basically roll over. Face forward upriver. Hold on tight as you drop over the wave and then flip yourself onto your back. Roll all the way over and kick your way back into the wave.
Now that you've picked up a few pointers, boogie over to the next section for some important safety reminders. After all, who wants to be sidelined by a preventable injury?