Don’t Judge a Rapid by its Class

What does a rapid class really mean anyway?

rapid class

Surprise Rapid on the New River

After spending much of my summer at ACE Adventure Resort white water rafting, I have learned to not judge a rapid by its class. If you have ever been rafting, you will remember the guide giving a talking up of each rapid, in which they describe what “class” it is. The class can range from 1-5 and it describes just how intense that particular rapid is. Obviously, the really gnarly rapids are that of the 5, while the tamer and easily overcome rapids are more like a class 2. While this is true, you can’t allow the class of a rapid to rule your judgment of how intense of a hit it can be. Many first time rafters or even those who have only been a handful of times tend to take that of the middle ground of rapids, like a class 3, for granted.

If you have ever rafted the New River and remember a rapid called Surprise, you know just how fun a class 3 can truly be. It’s named surprise for a reason. Being labeled a class 3 gives the impression that it’s nothing to give second thought to. However, surprise can grant some rather respectable air if hit just right and when hit incorrectly at higher water, can even flip a boat. If the ride is that wild, then why is it just labeled a class 3? Because under the frothy surface of water there is no imminent danger. It’s a just a large wave that flushes out. It’s simply a safe, yet exhilarating hit. The class has little to do with the wave size potential. Class simply determines how dangerous the surrounding area of the particular rapid is, given a rafter falls out of the boat. This doesn’t discredit that of the class 4 or 5 rapids at all, it just means that each rapid has epic potential in and of itself.

Next time you go rafting and your guide tells you that there is a lower class rapid ahead, try to look at it differently. You may find yourself having twice the amount of fun when you’re appreciating each and every rapid the river throws at you!

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