The Best Place
Good Question! The answer, as always, is “it varies”.
On any of our American river rafting trips The front of the raft gets the most wet and sees the action coming right close up. They are also the leaders in the paddling, everyone behind the front riders, follows them to have the raft paddle as a team through the river rapids. In front you will also be able to see the downriver the best, however, a good river guiding technique is to position the raft sideways in the river, maneuvering before a rapid or section, and then straighten it out once into the actual rapid.
The middle section of the raft is usually the place where people are in the best position to not fall overboard.
It is not always the case though, but for the most part, that is the place in the raft where folks sit who might be a bit nervous or scared (usually only until they go through a couple of rapids, then they get their confidence and are ready for more whitewater action).
The back of the raft, in my opinion, gets the most rocking action of all the places in the boat. Back paddlers get the whole view of the upcoming rapid and get to see the front of the raft drop down and take the big hits in the waves. This position also gets the big bouncing up action when the raft hits the bottom of the waves and kicks up. I personally like the back as I can see the entire raft and rapid, we still get plenty wet in the back (not quite as wet as the front, but we still get doused).
You sit on the outside tube of the raft. Tuck your outside foot forward and place it underneath the tube in front of you. Your back foot will tuck behind you and if done correctly you will feel stable when you paddle.
The Safest Spot?
Most people ask where to sit if they dont want to fall I will overboard. Well, again the simple answer is, “it varies”. There is really no place in the raft where you are totally immune to falling into the river; it can happen from any sitting position. The key to staying in the raft, no matter where you sit, is: 1- paddle hard, it will help keep you in the raft, 2- have your outside leg forward and foot tucked under the tube in front of you, or if you are sitting in the front of the raft, in the foot cups, and 3- wedge your rear-end into the gap between the raft and the cross tube, this is what we call the rafter’s tri-pod, a paddling technique that gives you great stability and usually keeps you in the raft.
All Spots are Good!
Depending on what you are looking for in your white water rafting adventure, sit accordingly. You can always ask your guide where you should sit for your best river experience. Best of all, you have the entire day to move around to different positions in the raft to see what you like the best.
I hope that this helps, as always if you have questions about this information, or have other questions about river trips, please feel free to E-Mail me, I am always here to help no matter what or where your river adventure is taking you.
Hope to see you on the river this year,
Flash (over 30 years of river rafting experience around the world and back)