Getting Barreled in a River Wave? Dane Jackson Weighs In


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This fall, Dane Jackson got something even Kelly Slater cherishes: barreled in a wave.

Only Jackson, paddling Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River, got his on a river wave. We caught up with the phenom for his take on getting barreled in a river.

Paddling Life: Is that the first time you’ve been barreled in a river wave?

Dane Jackson: I was also on the Zambezi last winter as the levels rose into the window to be able to surf this barrel, which was something I had always wanted to do. We weren’t expecting the levels to get high enough for it this trip so when the rains hit hard and it came in, we were all stoked!

PL: How’s it feel to get tubular?

Dane Jackson: It’s super cool, just not something you would think you would be able to experience in the river. Although it does seem that the barrel forms much better when the river is dropping rather on it’s way up, just seeing the difference between footage we have seen vs what we were getting to surf. Still such a dope view when you are able to pull in, even if it’s just for a second. I can only imagine what getting fully barreled in the ocean must be like, must be so insane.

PL: Have you ever seen another river wave like that anywhere?

Dane Jackson: Nothing that perfect at that size, with it being so smooth and perfectly formed. Truly a one of kind feature that is special to even witness form, let alone get to surf it. I definitely want to get more sessions on it, especially when it is even more prime.

PL: What level does it have to be to form like that?

Dane Jackson: The window is around 700-800m3/s

PL: How hard was it to surf it while getting that footage from in front and behind? 

Dane Jackson: It’s a smooth surf when you are on it, but you can definitely get tossed a bit in the feature if you get windowshaded. So it’s slightly intimidating because it wouldn’t be the most fun feature to lose your paddle.

PL: Could you do any tricks on it, or was it more about the barrel?

Dane Jackson: Before it becomes the proper barrel it is actually an epic surf wave for freestyle. Unfortunately because levels were coming up super fast, I missed that prime level by a day. When it starts to barrel, it can be tough to get up to the top and get a good pass. That being said I still took my freestyle boat out for a few sessions, and when I was able to get a good pass it was epic!

PL: How different do you think it is from a surfer getting barreled in the ocean?

Dane Jackson: Obviously it is much smaller, and at least at the flows we have had it doesn’t go over head quite the same. I am sure the sensation isn’t as crazy as the ocean as well because you are staying in one place instead of moving across at high speeds. That being said I am sure a surfer would find it to be a different feeling and still something special to do! In the end any chance to get an feeling remotely close to getting fully barreled is amazing, and it’s worth coming to try if the chance is there.

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