Surfers hang ten on the expert wave in the Boise whitewater park

Posted at 3:06 PM, Jul 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-25 20:43:44-04

BOISE, Idaho — It has been just over a year since the Boise Parks & Recreation Department opened phase two of the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation whitewater park.

Since that time, kayakers and boogie boarders have enjoyed the bottom two features, but the top wave of phase two has barely been open.

"The wave is an expert wave it is actually beyond expert it in some respects can be dangerous," said Doug Holloway, the director of the Boise Parks and Recreation Department. "Safety has really been the main issue since day one."

The city does open the wave for two hours on most mornings, depending on the water lever, and when it is in, there is a crew of surfers carving up this huge wave.

"It is very powerful and fast, it's a different animal," said surfer John Brown. "It takes a little bit of getting used to we are using the tiniest boards ever to stay in control, but it is a lot of fun."

Wave technician Paul Primus monitors the wave when he opens the gates for surfers because if the water level changes there's a chance the hydraulic behind the wave becomes a much more dangerous hazard.

"We may have the best wave technician in the country," said Holloway. "Paul has been working with the wave off an on for a year to get the wave perfected to the point where it is actually a safe wave."

It took two years to perfect the wave in phase one of the whitewater park, but now that wave is so popular with surfers, and they ride all year long.

"If you can master the Boise wave, you can take what you learn and take it to other places," said Brown. "A lot of these guys make it look easy, it is not an easy wave to surf, but if you can figure it out, you got game."

The expert mechanical wave also replaced a dangerous diversion dam, it's not only a recreational amenity, but the wave diverts water into the Farmers Union Canal and can also help divert water in the case of a flood.

An agreement with the Farmers Union Canal requires a certain amount of water to flow into the canal for irrigation.

It is the reason I initially thought the wave is closed a majority of the time, but instead it is a safety issue.

But as the city works to make the monster wave safer, watching the surfers carve up the wave shows the progression of Boise as one of the top river surfing cities in the country.

"I just love how I feel after I surf," said Brown. "There is nothing like it."