Snowboarding. Skateboarding. Boogie boarding on Class III+ river rapids? The evolution of board sports continues with riverboarding, straight from the adventure capital, New Zealand. Riverboarding puts you face-first on a bodyboard plunging down whitewater rapids, and it’s eking its way onto the California scene. But you’ve gotta know the right person. And you’ve gotta know how to swim really, really well. While there are no local licensed guiding services, Alex Koutzoukis of Kern Riverboards will rent you the equipment (board, helmet, and full wetsuit including gloves and booties). He’ll also join you on a 6-mile trip along the surly South Fork American River. After a few pointers on reading the river and avoiding danger (eddies good, exposed rocks bad), the “float” begins with a serious splash: The first, and arguably roughest, set of rapids—the famed and formidable Meatgrinder (Class III+)—greets you just minutes into the trip. Follow Alex’s navigational lead, hold on tight, and try not to cry. Make it through this, and subsequent rapids seem as tame as a wavepool—some stretches even allow you to enjoy the view. Steep granite walls frame this pristine river like an Ansel Adams photograph. Want proof of your insanity? Surf a wave and Alex will snap a few action shots. Troublemaker (also Class III+) is the final challenge of this exhilarating journey down the river. On weekends, expect an audience when you attack (or get tossed through) this barreling behemoth at face level. Made it? Meeting adjourned!
Alex Koutzoukis will meet you in Davis (where he’s based) or near the river take-out in Coloma (about 2.5 hours from the Bay). Two cars are required for the shuttle. To arrange a trip, contact Alex at email@example.com. He’s currently planning trips for May 21-22, June 3-4, and June 10-11. The cost is $90 for equipment rental and a demo session with Alex. Alex is not a licensed guide and, therefore, not legally responsible for your safety.