1. origine and description of the hydrospeed
Hydrospeed is a sport that originated in 1970, when Robert Carlson, who had a rafting equipment business in the United States, began teaching water rescue classes. He designed a new board to use for this task and realised how much fun it could be to go on the rapid waters of rivers whilst holding on to the board. At the same time, in the French Alps the tables that are currently used to carry out the activity were developed. Nowadays the popularity of the sport is growing all over the world and companies are working at making the sport safer.
This sport is an evolution of rafting taken to the extreme. It consists of descending a section of any river that is fast, propelled by diver fins and supported on a floating platform (or hydrospeed) of 1 x 0’60m. The platform has some compartments to support the arms and the body, as well as some handles to be able to hold it better and thus to be able to manoeuvre on the waves, avoiding the natural obstacles that are found along the way. It differs from rafting and canoeing in that those are sporst that prioritise teamwork and, instead, hydrospeed is an individual discipline in which the athlete faces the river current alone.
Obviously, the descent will take place carrying all the necessary equipment and with an experienced guide who will give the necessary instructions at all times so that each participant can take the correct trajectories. Participants must have a minimum level of physical condition, and it is mandatory to know how to swim. In addition, it is important that participants have practiced some similar sport in the past.
2. what technique is used
Basically you have to take into account that it is a dangerous sport, so if you have never tried a sport like this before you must try first in calm waters and always accompanied by an expert, so you find your limitations and learn how to use the equipment. The idea at the beginning is to move with basic movements.
It is a sport that is learned very quickly, it is not difficult to practice once you have experience, but you should always be careful not to go to highly difficult rivers. Rivers that are too rough are only suitable for those who are already considered professionals.
The board is not only used for whitewater descent, but will accompany us at all times. Once the descent begins, we must dodge the curves and always stop behind an obstacle. In addition, before jumping into the river, we must practice on the shore the manoeuvres that we will perform in the descent.
3. Necessary equipment for hydrospeed
To practice this sport safely we must equip ourselves with the appropriate accessories:
- The hydrospeed board. It is usually made of polyurethane, fiber and plastic, and has a more or less rectangular shape. The front part is slightly elevated and has a pair of handles to hold it comfortably. It must be sturdy and manageable. Make sure you feel comfortable.
- Neoprene suit. It must be thicker than wetsuits to do other sports, between 5mm and 7mm, think that the water is colder and you could also bump into objects that could harm you. You must also wear knee pads and shin guards, for the above reasons. Some suits already have them incorporated.
- Helmet. Always protect your head with a helmet with earmuffs for added protection, since you never know if you will hit a rock. Above all, it is important that it is resistant and of quality, and that it is also standard approved.
- Gloves. They go good for the cold and possible scratches, but they are optional because they make it difficult to grip the board.
- Fins and booties. The fins will help you to manoeuvre in the water, change direction and take speed, therefore they must be short and flexible. The booties can be the same as those used in diving or snorkelling.
- Lifejacket. It will allow you to float and will also absorb the blows you can take.
4. practical tips
The body must rest on the board up to the waist and you must learn to maintain balance. Once you have learned this, you can start making short distance rapids, and if the current turns you around grab the board and go back up.
Practice as many times as necessary in calm waters, so that when you enter whitewaters you’re up yo it.
Being a sport considered extreme as we have said before, you must pay attention to your safety before diving into the river and keep in mind that:
- You have to be aware of your abilities and, as opposed to flyboarding, your physical strength.
- Do not underestimate the strength of the river
- If you get stuck somewhere in the river keep calm, the currents will end up taking you out.
- Never practice this sport alone, always be accompanied by experienced people.
- Always use the necessary equipment
- If you feel tired it is important to get out of the water and rest. Do an exploration of the river to locate the possible obstacles that you may encounter along the way. This will make it easier for you to finish the descent, having identified the areas where you can get caught.
It should be noted that the best time of the year to practice Hydrospeed is in summer, and that it is ideal as a family sport. It helps children to naturally experience sport, and it gives them personality.
In short, Hydrospeed significantly improves our physical form, because we exercise with the whole body and thus activating all the muscles. What more could you want? It is definitely the perfect activity to find adventure, experience, fun and complicity with your family and group of friends. And all in a safe and refreshing way! Will you dare?
Marc Alvarez es de Barcelona y es el fundador de Watersportsmallorca. Es instructor profesional de deportes náuticos desde el año 1988. Está capacitado para dar clases de Windsurf, Kitesurf, Catamaran, Surf y SUP y puede hacerlo en una gran cantidad de idiomas: catalán, español, francés, inglés, alemán e italiano. Le gusta practicar surf-kite y ha viajado en busca de viento y olas a Australia, Indonesia, Marruecos, Islas Canarias, España, Brasil, Costa Rica, País Vasco, Portugal…