Thousands of people every year enjoy all that white water rafting has to offer. They love nothing more than the thrills, spills and excitement that comes with this sport, which is why those who try it often become addicted.
What is white water rafting?
White water rafting is one of the most extreme sports that uses a raft to help those aboard travel on a river. Rafting involves turbulent rivers and rough waters that add a touch of excitement to those who dare to try it.
Understanding the Grades of white water Rafting
There are currently six different grades of difficulty, which help people to understand how easy or difficult it is to navigate along a particular stretch of water. The six grades are:
This refers to small and slightly rough areas. Suited to those with little or no experience, this grade may require some maneuvering.
This refers to some rough waters that are likely to contain rocks. Maneuvering is likely to be required as are some basic paddling skills.
This particular grade refers to waters that could contains waves and maybe even a small drop. There is not much danger in this grade, but there is the chance that you may need to do a lot of maneuvering.
Grade 4 refers to waters that contain medium waves, whitewater and some rocks too. What’s more is there is likely to be a large drop, and it’s also quite likely that some sharp maneuvers are required.
One of the highest grades, grade 5 involves a lot of maneuvering that needs to be precise. There are likely to be large waves, large rocks and quite a few hazards, along with a lot of whitewater.
The highest grade there is, is one that only those with the greatest amount of experience and skill should attempt. Upon entering grade 6 water, you should expect very large waves, rocks and other hazards. There will also be a lot of whitewater that could take you to some very substantial drops. These drops could cause a lot of damage to your equipment, and could result in significant or fatal injuries.
Capsizing is something that can happen quite a lot, particularly if you’re a newcomer to white water rafting. Capsizing is usually caused by hydraulics, large waves or hitting rocks. The good news is that a lot of this can be avoided, but only if you know how to. Occasionally it doesn’t matter how much you try to avoid capsizing or how experienced you are, sometime Mother Nature wins, and you get wet.
Here are a few things you need to do in the event of your raft capsizing:
- Try to hold on to the raft as quickly and as firmly as you can.
- Make sure your feet are out of the water, or at least on the surface.
- Don’t let go of the raft in order to help others, as you could be putting yourself in danger.
- Grab another rafter if you can, or try to get them to swim towards the raft.
If there is a guide with you, they may try a few alternatives such as getting on top of the raft and encouraging everyone else to join them. This may be the best option if there is a lot of whitewater, and a long way to travel. Once the raft has reached a calm area, it can then be righted.
If you are asked to get into an upside down raft, here’s what you need to do:
- Make your way to the front or the back of the raft, as it will be easier to be pulled up this way.
- As soon as you’re on the raft, move towards the middle as it will help the raft to stay low in the water.
- Grab hold of a raft handle, a flip line rope or anything that’s available.
- Once you have reached calm waters, wait for your guide to turn the raft over.
Re-righting refers to the times when the raft has flipped and you need to get it back to its desired position. There are 3 ways for you to re-right the raft:
The Flip line technique
This is the most commonly used technique, and consists of the guide taking hold a carabiner that’s attached to the webbing. They will then attach that to the perimeter line, before standing on top of the raft that’s currently upside down. Once this is done the guide will then lean on the raft while holding the line, and flip the raft.
The Knee flipping technique
Small rafts are often re-righted using this technique. It involves someone holding the webbing that can be found on the underside of the raft. They will then need to push their knees into the outer tubing. The next step is to lift their body out of the water, and then lean back in an effort to re-right the raft.
The T rescue technique
This technique is used on rafts that need to be overturned because of their size. This technique specifically involves another raft or some land. The raft will need to be positioned by the side of the land or raft and then re-righted, this is done by lifting the raft up on the perimeter line.
There are many different tricks associated with whitewater rafting. These should only be attempted by those who have a lot of experience and skill, or when a guide is with you.
Surfing the waves
This is usually the first maneuver that beginners learn and is ideal when you’re catching eddy’s, or in ‘park and play’ areas. Start to paddle out of an eddy and make sure you face upstream. Drop into the wave or alternatively paddle across it. Once you’re in the wave, you should be able to move backwards and forwards and even up or down the wave.
This move occurs when the paddler makes their way down a river. Ideally you should look for a rock that produces slightly out of the water, but still has water going over it. Try to use the rock in the same way a BMX enthusiast uses a ramp. This is quite a hard maneuver and will need you to avoid flipping over. It’s also important that you first make sure there is a safe landing spot on the other side of the rock.
Keep mastering practicing these tricks and you’ll soon have a lot of fun in the water.