The river surfing movement is quickly spreading in popularity from our local Deschutes River in Bend Oregon to the Hawea River in New Zealand. As fun and carefree as the sport can be you must never forget that a river is a powerful force of nature and should be respected. As more and more people are surfing their local rivers the concern for safety on the water becomes a top priority. On May 22 2013 a 23 year old river surfer drown after her leash was caught on underwater debris beneath the waves of the St. Lawrence River near Ontario. Just recently a river surfer had a close call on the Hawea River in New Zealand when his leash got stuck on a pylon pinning him underwater until he was luckily rescued by his fellow surfers. As a whole River Surfing is a very safe and fun sport as long as you follow a few important rules:
1. Never use a leash in shallow water.
2. If you choose to wear a leash make sure is has a quick release option and that you attach it to your thigh for quick access.
3. Always wear a helmet especially in shallow water.
4. Wear a life jacket even if your a strong swimmer.
Most local river surf shops like Surf Central in Bend Oregon will have helmets, lifejackets and any other safety equipment for rent as well as surf boards, wax and wetsuits. Follow these simple rules and you’ll have a great time surfing the river.