4 Reasons Women Make Better Paddlers Than Men

Jun 4, 2012

4 Reasons Women Make Better Paddlers Than Men

Most of them don’t know it, but the ladies were born to run the river.

It’s a bit ironic, actually: Sometimes women are hesitant to go on a whitewater rafting trip, for a variety of reasons, when in fact, they’re exactly who river guides want filling up their boat.

As far as I’m concerned, give me a group of gals any day. I prefer that to the football team, the biker gang, or the Boy Scouts, hands down.

You’re darn right I’m sexist.

But, this has nothing to do with my attraction for women. It’s all about getting downstream and enjoying it while we do.

Why would I say such things? Let me explain:

 

1. Women work together. In a paddle boat, your experience is superlative when the crew paddles in perfect unison. You don’t have to paddle as much. You don’t have to paddle as hard. And, you can move that raft around the river like a ninja driving a Ferrari. Guys in the raft will either try to overpower each other or overpower the guide. You’ll see these boats limping herky-jerky across the river, getting stuck on rocks and paddling way more than they have to, just to keep the boat straight. 

 

2. Women paddle longer. This borrows a bit from my next point, but the ladies listen when you explain proper paddling technique. Experienced rafters know you don’t paddle with your arms; you use your whole body. If you don’t, your arms and your back are spent after the first few miles. The ladies know they’re not going to overpower the river with their biceps, and they’ll almost always pick up on good paddling technique. That way, they’ve still got the same amount of power in the final rapids that they started with.

 

3. Women listen. There isn’t a river trip invented that doesn’t have a college education’s worth of history, geology, literature, philosophy and ecology. I believe that when you compart just the right amount of this information, at just the right time, it adds to the soul-stirring beauty we see along the banks. Certain paddlers aren’t as open to this information, like, say, when they’re stuck on rocks. (See item No. 1 above.)

Props To The Ladies

 

4. Women trust. Building on those last 3 points, wonderful things start to happen in a paddle boat. See, sometimes the boat needs to be a little sideways going into a rapid. Sometimes, it’s more important that we don’t paddle and we let the river work for us. Part of the thrill of these river trips is going outside your comfort zone, and you have to trust your guide about when and where it’s safe to do that. Once that crew of ladies realizes their guide is on the up-and-up, they invest into their river experience wholeheartedly. I don’t think there’s a bank that pays bigger dividends.

 

Now, gentlemen, I know it might smart a bit to have to hear these words. And, I’m not saying that there aren’t some great male paddle crews out there. I know it’s dangerous to generalize.

I’m just saying that, the next time we hit the river, let’s all aspire to remember these preceding points. 

I know at least half of us will.

Reid Williams
Reid has guided whitewater and taught swiftwater rescue in the U.S. and Central America on 13 different rivers, after brief turns as a chemistry teacher and a newspaper journalist. These days, he tries to turn people on to active, outdoor lifestyles as an executive at WELD.