Surfing and river running have shacked up to create this season’s most noted new sport: stand-up river paddling.
by Greg Mebel
Just like kiteboarding grew out of wakeboarding and downhill mountain biking borrowed from motocross, surfing and river running have shacked up to create this season’s most noted new sport: stand-up river paddling. Naturally it took someone who grew up in Hawaii but made his living on the rivers of Colorado to perfect the ocean-to-river crossover. Extreme kayaker Charlie MacArthur, owner of Aspen Kayak Academy, had been experimenting with running rapids on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers using an old windsurf board and a SurfTech soft-top longboard. As MacArthur describes it, he wanted to return to his surfing roots, and simply “make Class II fun again.” A friend of his took some video, which, thanks to YouTube, landed in the hands of Todd Bradley, co-founder of Oahu-based stand-up paddleboard and paddle company C4Waterman. Before he knew it, the two had teamed up to create the first stand-up river paddleboard. Called the CMac ATB (Charlie MacArthur All Terrain Board, $1,600; c4waterman.com), the board, released in August, is as long as a typical ocean stand-up paddleboard but more buoyant to handle the lower density of freshwater, with an upturned nose to move quickly and fit in river waves. MacArthur’s main addition: foot-strap plugs to help river runners flip themselves, just as kayakers do with Eskimo rolls.
This article originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Men’s Journal.