River Sup athlete Alex Mauer has always been at the forefront of river paddling and riding the rapids on his BIC Sup. In this article, Alex moves deeply into the connection that happens between paddler, board and wave when stand up paddling on the rivers in Colorado. Read on, and be inspired.
Surfing the River: The difference between ocean swell and river waves
While talking with a surfboard shaper in a shop in Colorado recently, it became apparent that he hadn’t fully opened up to river surfing. I started to think about other surfers I have tried to share my passion for the rivers with. There is something about river surfing that ocean surfers just don’t open up to. A river wave is different than an ocean wave. It never breaks. You can ride it forever. We don’t judge river waves based on size in most cases. There is a different kind of connection between a sup surfer and a river wave.
“We watch the runoff like an ocean surfer would watch the swell” – Alex Mauer
We watch the runoff like an ocean surfer would watch the swell. Instead of swell reports we look at runoff graphs. Our waves usually come with the seasons instead of the swells. We pray for big rains and massive snow melt. When the flows come up, our waves come in. They never break and we could surf them forever … if our muscles would let us.
The Connections between River and Rider
In most cases river surfers don’t judge river waves based on the size. Don’t get me wrong… the bigger the better! The river is so powerful when the water starts flowing really fast, it can make the smallest wave feel huge.
“Only a true river surfer could understand the feeling.” – Alex Mauer
There is a different kind of connection between a river wave and a paddle surfer. The wave opens up and the pocket of the wave becomes an extension of the board creating a full connection with the wave. Setting up for front side and back side hacks feels like the wave is guiding the board across the water.
This connection is special and only a true river surfer could understand the feeling. Its one of the rare moments in life where everything else melts away and all that is relevant is the feeling of your board dancing on the wave. This feeling is special and is what keeps me watching the water charts waiting for runoff.