Steamboat Springs resident Eugene Buchanan, left, rides a riverboard in Charlie's Hole in downtown Steamboat Springs on Saturday as Josh Copelan tries not to get washed downstream.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs resident Eugene Buchanan, left, rides a riverboard in Charlie's Hole in downtown Steamboat Springs on Saturday as Josh Copelan tries not to get washed downstream.

Steamboat company offers riverboarding lessons

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Boardom Bound

What: Steamboat Springs-based company that offers lessons in many board-based water and snow activities including wakeboarding, wakesurfing and riverboarding.

Cost: A 4 to 5 hour river boarding lesson with Boardom Bound costs $250 for one person. The price drops to $75 per boarder with a group of between four and six.

For who: Owner Danny Tebbenkamp said riverboarding can be for the whole family. Boarders are supplied wet suits and life jackets and can chose either raging or lazy parts of the river. For more information, check out www.boardombound.com.

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David Benedict leaps into the Yampa River with a riverboard on Saturday.

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Levi Gallas rides a riverboard Saturday while Eugene Buchanan, center, and Josh Copelan wait for their turn.

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Danny Tebbenkamp started Boardom Bound, a Steamboat Springs company that offers lessons in riverboarding, wakeboarding, wakesurfing and snowkiting.

— The heart beats fast just standing on a boulder on the shore of the Yampa, riverboard in hand.

It feels like a locomotive in the chest after jumping into the chilly waters - board leading the way - and rises to the throat even faster than water fills a wetsuit as body and board turn to head down river.

Charlie's Hole, domain that local kayakers still are at least a month away from ceding to lazy summer tubers, awaits.

"Let's do it," Danny Tebbenkamp shouted, his voice almost lost in the roar of the Yampa.

On Saturday, plenty did, and Tebbenkamp is betting more locals will once they get a taste of his riverboards.

Tebbenkamp has owned Pacific Spas and Pools for several years, but this spring, he started an entrepreneurial effort in addition to his work with Pacific. His new company, Boardom Bound, offers lessons in riverboarding, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, kitesurfing, snowkiting and pretty much anything else Tebbenkamp stumbles across.

"One day, I just wondered if there was something else you could do on the river," Tebbenkamp said. "I just pulled up Google and typed in 'riverboarding'. Turns out, it existed."

The not-so-boogie board

That initial curiosity led Tebbenkamp to a riverboard supplier and instructor on the Front Range. Eventually, it helped lead him to his new company.

On Saturday, as Tebbenkamp demonstrated the boards at the Yampa River Festival, it led to a seemingly endless line of questions from perplexed onlookers.

Tebbenkamp first refers to a riverboard as a "boogie board that helps an adventure-minded soul ride the river."

Put away that first thought, though - these boards bear nothing in common with the thin panel of Styrofoam available for $2 on beaches across the world.

The devices look more like a kneeboard meant to be dragged behind a boat than a traditional boogie board.

A plethora of handles offer enough places to grab hold, and the boards are plenty light enough to haul around and buoyant enough to survive the rushing water of the Yampa.

Tebbenkamp sells boards, but for the most part, he just offers lessons. He stocks boards from two different makers, both with Colorado origins.

A different kind of ride

Rick Leitner stumbled upon riverboarding about six years ago. After a few years running rivers, he and a friend started a company, Rocky Mountain RiverBoards, and they build their boards near Boulder.

He said he has helped hundreds of people take their first leap into a river with a board and has noticed the sport draws a unique audience.

"We don't convert many people," Leitner said. "The hardcore kayakers, they're already really into that, so they don't want to try anything new. What we've noticed is a whole new generation of whitewater enthusiasts love these things."

Like a kayak, a riverboard leaves its rider soaked. A wet suit and swimming fins help ease the leap into the water, but from Tebbenkamp's "Let's go!" shout, it's a wet affair.

Riders can either just drift down the Yampa or try to surf in the man-made features.

Surfing is a sure way to eat a lot of water, but that didn't deter any of those flying from the Yampa's shores Saturday.

"It's more intense than kayaking," said Levi Gallas, who traveled to Steamboat with Leitner to show off the boards.

Gallas and three other regular riverboarders spent the weekend plowing through Charlie's Hole and roaming up and down the Yampa.

"You're right down in the water," he said. "The river owns you."

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