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Around 2 years ago I started to see on the web pictures and stories about people taking on white water river rapids with a SUP board. It did look really insane and that is when of course I decide that I should try it too...  I started to research all I could find and from the beginning it was clear that using a regular fiberglass SUP board was not a good idea, specially in a river like we have here full of rocks and very shallow.

It would mean totally destruction of the board and even if I was eager to try it I was not looking forward to throw away a board! Back then there was only 1 company making inflatable SUP and I had to import them from USA, they were pretty expensive too....

Then I kind of decide that I wanted to add white river SUP rafting to my business! I went to meet with some Rafting operator so that I could use their facilities on the river and then I contacted a famous inflatable SUP supplier.. Everything was almost ready to go when I came back to my senses in a moment of lucidity!!!

Seriously as I did not have enough things going on!!

Drive every time over 1 hour to Ubud, bring the boards 550 steps down to the river, pump them up, engage the rapids for 2 and half hour, deflate the boards, walk them back up 350 steps and THEN drive back home... Phiew that was a close call, my finger ready on the SEND button of my computer with the mail ordering the boards just in front of me....

Some time I'm like that, very impulsive, I can't contain myself! If I want to do something I must do it right away. Like that time when I almost open a ZORBing center also here in Bali BUT that is another story..

So to make it short I put this idea back in the drawer and there it stay till 2 months ago when I received an email that JP Australia, a SUP brand that we represent, started to make inflatable SUP.

YEAAAAHHHH... I was back and just few days later a friend of mine hand carried an Air SUP board for me from Hong Kong to Bali.. A fast test of the floating mattress in the waves of Sanur to get the feeling of the board and I was ready!

By the way Air SUP are quite fun! They are very light and compact to carry, just a big back pack, pretty much the size of a 16m kite.. The one I got is a JP AllAroundAir 10'2 x 34 very stable and floaty. Once inflated it seems even lighter! Definetely lighter then the same size of a Jimmy Lewis epoxy board.

The board need to be pumped up very stiff to 14 PSI and takes about 5 minutes or around 120 strokes of the pump to get it ready. In the water when you jump on it it feel a bit weird as everything feel like moving. Is kind of jumping on a water mattress. Glide is pretty good and speed match the one of an Epoxi Surf SUP.

In the surf is where the difference are most notable, the board bend and flex. So is ok to go straight and make small slow turns but forget about performances. A good thing is that if the board hit you on the head it bounce! So I will recommend an Air SUP to anyone that want a fun board to use in flat water and in small surf (waist to max shoulder high). Huge advantage is that you can carry it with you everywhere, trunk of a car, bus, metro and they are easy to store even in a tiny city flat.

But if you are serious about waves for now you still need to stick to a regular hard shell board.

Back to our story!!!

With the equipment well ready and tested was time to find someone to help me on the river, going alone with no safety was not an option. So I contacted the guys at Sobek Rafting (the biggest rafting company in Bali) and I was put in touch with Eelco the Dutch owner. When I explained to him my plans he was not that enthusiastic about it as he tough it would be to dangerous but after I invited him to a SUP wave session (that he loved!) and showing some videos from the web he was sold on my idea and supported it 100%.

We picked up a day when they were not too busy on the river and got everyone organize.

Eelco of course was in charge of the rescue team that Sobek provided: 1 regular Raft boat for 4 persons, 1 double inflatable kayak and 2 Boogie board. Some of the best Rafting guides available were at the control of such flotilla.

In the morning we started quite early and by 9 am we were ready on the bank of the Ayung river near Ubud. SUP inflated and me wearing all kind of safety stuff: 3 mm complete wetsuit, rafting life jacket, helmet shoulder and knee pads (I did look rather funny to tell the true!). With no time to loose I jumped in the water and starter paddling up river to get used to the current. What I tough it was an easy task is actually not, if you are going straight is ok but as soon as you turn side the water rush over the board and everything become very unstable, falling off right in front of everyone even before starting made everyone luff at me.






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