Truckee River rock park in Sparks growing in popularity |

Truckee River rock park in Sparks growing in popularity

SPARKS, Nev. and#8212;-A guy standing on a stationary surfboard in the middle of the Truckee River looked a bit odd at first.

It looks stupid, Corran Addison, now a professional river surfer, huffed in an online interview. That was my first experience river surfing.

Either he was joking or he hasn t tried the inland sport of river surfing.

On Saturday, Paul and Deb Martin impressed a few curious onlookers as they rode a standing wave at Rock Park for up to a minute or two. The Martins humbly described themselves as avid but novice ocean surfers, otherwise known as kooks in the surfing world. The Truckee River allows inland kooks like themselves to practice surfing without traveling to the coast every weekend, Paul Martin explained.

It also gives them a little time together away from work; the couple own the Bibo s coffee houses in Reno.

It (river surfing) feels awesome, Paul said. Today was my best day ever.

Earlier in the week, helmeted novice Eddy Quaglieri tried unsuccessfully to stay on his board for more than a few seconds before tumbling back into the river. With encouragement from friend and veteran surfer Mark Norris, Quaglieri had fun trying to ride the same standing wave.

River surfing can be as challenging as ocean surfing, if not more so, according to Norris. Ocean surfers ride with the waves while inland surfers ride against them seeking to balance their boards between downstream and upward forces as a wave curls back on itself, Martin explained.

Norris thinks he can organize a local club around the sport. He s teaching friends to surf the Truckee and is considering organizing a surf rally at Rock Park in the fall.

River surfing clubs have existed for years around the world in Munich, Montreal, Calgary — wherever land-locked wave addicts can find a something to stand up and carve turns on. Online videos show river surfing can be hazardous but amazing to watch as surfers slide around standing waves dodging walls, rocks and each other. It s called ripping it up in surf lingo.

In South America, river surfers ride tidal bores, huge waves pushed for miles up the Amazon River by Atlantic Ocean tides.

Local whitewater, small by comparison, has drawn national attention to Sparks and Reno.

In the August issue of Outside Magazine, Reno was named one of the best American cities for urban whitewater. Sparks wasn t left out this time.

With 11 pool drops, year-round flow and a prime location (right downtown, surrounded by green space and an amphitheater), Reno has one of the country s best whitewater parks. Not to be outdone, last year the neighboring community of Sparks, just ten minutes down the road, unveiled its own, even more beginner-friendly park.

Using their own criteria, Reno residents Norris and Quaglieri rated the Sparks whitewater park as superior to that in Reno.

Rock Park is more family-oriented; you don t have the crackheads and bums like in Reno, Norris grumped.

A thief recently stole his cell phone at the Reno park.

For more information on the Rock Park surf scene or to learn more about the sport, e-mail Norris at or go online to

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