I attended the Downriver SUP class organized by JB, owner of Altitude Paddleboards in Littleton, Colorado. I’ve been on a SUP a few times in the ocean while visiting my brother; living in Colorado presents different opportunities to paddle, namely on rivers.
I meet JB the previous year when I bought my Hala Straight Up from him. He was very knowledgeable about the equipment and walked me through the basics of stand up paddling in Colorado and I anticipated his Downriver SUP class would not disappoint. I arrived 15 minutes early for the course and JB greeted me immediately, making me feel right at home. Once all the attendees arrived we went over the basics:
Checked the current
Discussed eddies and how to ferrying upstream
Proper stroke techniques
We loaded up our SUPs and headed on our way down to where the South Platte crosses Hwy 470 in the Denver Metro area. We did a quick equipment check ensuring everyone had PFDs, paddles, and boards; plus hand signals for safety checks.
We entered the river one at a time and immediately found our first eddy. We practiced our eddy entrance, peel out, and ferry techniques. Ferrying is the process of moving across the river while facing upstream; the point is to be able to effectively move from one side of the river to the other. JB watched us and gave everyone pointers to work on. We moved down the S. Platte to practice our techniques on different eddies, focusing in on bow strokes and edging the board.
I thoroughly enjoyed the downriver SUP class. JB was a great instructor, very patient. He even gave me some practice tips to work on my paddle technique for times when I can’t get on the water.