Words: Andrew Kellett ǀ Photos: Kate Walton
Orange River: Entry.
SUPING RIVER KNOWLEDGE AND GUIDANCE #35 | DO IT NOW Magazine • 1
IN MY LAST TWO ARTICLES, I COVERED THE FIVE KEY BUT EASY STEPS TO BECOMING A WHITE WATER SUPING SUPER STAR, AS WELL AS THE BASICS AND WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED TO MAXIMISE YOUR ENJOYMENT AND KEEP YOU SAFE ON THE RIVER. IN MY FINAL
ARTICLE, I'LL DISCUSS RIVER KNOWLEDGE, THE TERMS AND WHAT THEY MEAN, AS WELL AS WHAT INSTRUCTION AND GUIDANCE IS NEEDED TO ACCELERATE YOUR LEARNING CURVE AND MAKE YOUR EXPERIENCE ON THE RIVER SAFER. 2 â€˘ DO IT NOW Magazine | #35
RIVER KNOWLEDGE Rivers are graded into six levels, which are referred to as 'grades' or 'class', and followed by a number. Grade 1 being flowing flat water, whilst grade 6 is unrunnable. Often a river or rapid will be given a numerical grade and then a plus (+) or minus (-) to indicate if it is at the higher or lower end of the difficulty level. A river section may be given an overall grading, but may also contain sections above that grade. Below is a basic summary.
CLASS I: EASY Waves small; passages clear; no serious obstacles.
CLASS II: MEDIUM Rapids of moderate difficulty with passages clear. Requires experience plus suitable outfit and boat.
Orange River: Scouting made easy.
CLASS III: DIFFICULT
CLASS VI / CLASS U
Waves numerous, high, and irregular; rocks; eddies; rapids with passages clear though narrow chutes, requiring expertise in manoeuvring; scouting usually needed. Requires good operator and boat.
Formerly classified as unrunnable by any craft. This classification has now been redefined as 'unraftable' due to people having recently kayaked multiple class VI around the world. It has life or death consequences.
CLASS IV: VERY DIFFICULT Long rapids; waves high, irregular; dangerous rocks; boiling eddies; best passages difficult to scout; scouting mandatory first time; and powerful and precise manoeuvring required. Demands expert boatman, excellent boat and good-quality equipment.
CLASS V: EXTREMELY DIFFICULT Exceedingly difficult, long and violent rapids following each other almost without interruption; riverbed extremely obstructed; big drops; violent current; very steep gradient; and close study essential but often difficult. Requires best person, boat, and outfit suited to the situation. All possible precautions must be taken.
I suggest you choose a lower grade section of river for your first outing and work your way up through the grades as you get more experienced. Stick to day trips until you get proficient. Here are some basic river features and hazards to be aware of before setting out on white water.ď€´
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Orange River: Ideal stance - feet wide apart and low with an active blade in the water.
• L aminar flow - This is water flowing in one direction without the disturbance of rocks and trees. Considered grade 1, easy for beginners. • Eddies - This is the area behind and obstacle in the river, usually rocks. It is an area of low pressure, allowing the paddler to stop in midstream. This is used for slowing the descent down, scouting, safety, and rescue. Catching eddies will be a vital skill to learn when paddling white water. • Waves - Created by water flowing over the rocks on the riverbed. These can be in the form of cushion waves, stopper waves, lateral waves, and standing waves. • River left and river right, upstream and downstream - This give you the orientation of the river.
• H oles / hydraulics - This is water that flows over a rock, creating a recycling motion that flows upstream. • Pour-over - This is normally when water falls steeply over a rock, creating a deep recycling motion. • Weirs - These are man-made obstacles in the river that act as a dam, creating a steep drop-off much like a pour-over but more consistent. • Low-level bridges - Usually found on farm roads and in rural areas where cement pipes are laid on the riverbed and the road cast over it. This acts like a siphon, creating a sucking motion through the pipes. • Strainers - This is an obstacle, normally trees and overhanging branches, which allow the water to flow though it but traps the paddler.
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• S iphon - This occurs when two rocks fall on each other and leave a gap, allowing water to flow under the rock and create a sucking current that may trap the paddler under the rock. • Rooster tail - This is an upstream obstruction just below the surface of the river that creates a fan of water, indicating the obstruction. • Foot entrapment - This should be entrenched in your brain. Never stand up in flowing water. There is a danger that your foot gets stuck under a rock and the flow of current pushes your body under the water, resulting in a bad situation.
INSTRUCTION AND GUIDING If you going to attempt grade 3 and 4 white water, it is suggested that you attend a basic river course with professional instruction. Contact Paddlezone for some training options. This will accelerate your learning curve and make your experience on the river safer. Like many other water sports, you should never paddle alone. Paddling with a group allows you to watch and learn from others who are more experienced and you may avoid the ‘school of hard knocks’.
IF YOU LOOKING AT AN OVERNIGHT TRIP, YOU CAN TAG ALONG WITH AN OPERATOR WHO OFFERS RAFT SUPPORTED TRIPS FOR SUPS. CHECK OUT GRAVITY ADVENTURES FOR LOADS OF OPTIONS!
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SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER INTRODUCTION TO WHITE WATER SUPING Join Gravity Adventures for a three-day long trip on the awesome Orange River Gorge to explore the new sport of white water Stand Up Paddle boarding. You will need to bring along your own inflatable SUP and we will provide everything else! Fully catered and guided, you can concentrate on learning new skills from instructor Andrew Kellett, all in a stunning desert wilderness environment. Take advantage of this special introductory offer for DO IT NOW Magazine readers: R2,995.00 per person (special offer ends 31 May 2014). Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
SENSE OF ADVENTURE Whenever you are pioneering a new sport, you can expect the unexpected! River SUPing is not a graceful sport; you will fall and fall often!
ONE THING IS FOR SURE, RIVER EXPLORATION REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING ADVENTURES AND IT NOW HAS A NEW PLATFORM TO EXPLORE. IT ALSO
GIVES PADDLERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE EASY RIVER RUNS FEEL CHALLENGING ON A SUP. 6 • DO IT NOW Magazine | #35
Orange River above Sendelingsdrif: The rocker and high volume of this board help with running higher grade rapids.
WHITE WATER SUPING IS HERE TO STAY! • Andrew Kellett is a five-time National Freestyle Kayak Champion and an accomplished expedition kayaker with many first descents under his belt. In 2012, he started exploring the sport of WWSUP on rivers. To check out the companies mentioned, visit: Paddlezone - www.paddlezone.co.za Gravity Adventures - www.gravity.co.za
MAKES HOT COOL. LITERALLY.
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DO IT NOW Magazine, SUP. In my last two articles, I covered the five key but easy steps to becoming a white water SUPing super star, as well...