Max Baldetti is a Guatemala native who has traveled the world and is a natural athlete. An enthusiastic 30 year old, Max has worked as a white water river guide in France, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. Six years ago he was introduced to a new sport called riverboarding or hydrospeed. This new take on white water sports uses a boogie board type design, but build to handle even more extremes. The sport was created in France, and has expanded to many countries and is considered one of the fastest growing extreme white water sports.
Riverboarding is a boardsport in which the participant lies prone on their board with fins on their feet for propulsion and steering. This sport is also known as hydrospeed in Europe and as riverboarding or white-water sledging in New Zealand, depending on the type of board used.
“I have experienced white water rafting and other extreme sports, but when I started riverboarding I never climbed back into a raft.” says Baldetti.
Indonesia hosted the first Riverboarding World Championship in November 2013, and the stage was the Citarum River, West Java, Indonesia. Baldetti was summoned by one of the organizers to participate in the event which took place from 6 to 10 November, and the competing 63 extreme athletes from Australia, New Zealand, France, Malaysia, Indonesia, USA, Canada, South Africa and Guatemala.
In this competition, the Guatemalan got position in section 16, which left him as the second best American and the only Latin American participant in the contest.
“I am currently the only Guatemalan who knows and practices this discipline. But in 2015 we will train approximately ten people so they can compete,” said the athlete.
The fellow ran off to Guatemala to host the next World Cup and was fortunate to be elected, the country will host the second edition of this event in November 2015. The Cahabón and Lanquín Rivers in Alta Verapaz, are chosen to host this event. Max’s pals at Lake Atitlan Guatemala applaud his adventures and will join him for the 2015 World Cup.
Riverboarding is believed to have originated in the late 1970s. It is claimed to have originated in France, where raft guides stuffed a burlap mail sack with life vests and went down rapids. Soon, riders adapted a personal submarine shell for their molds, and the plastic version of the riverboard was born. Sometime in the late 1980s, Robert Carlson began running rivers in California using an ocean bodyboard and ended up making his own board that was bigger and thicker and had handles. In 1986, Ged Hay began taking his body board down the Kawarau River near Queenstown in New Zealand while on his days off as a rafting guide.
European riders also developed a foam version (called a hydrospeed) of the plastic board to reduce weight and avoid injuring each other during collisions that sometimes resulted from one rider travelling downstream and another facing upstream while surfing a hydraulic. Today, homemade foam hydrospeeds are found primarily among European riders. A growing sport in North America, riverboarding has grown in popularity from media exposure and the emergence of commercial operators running riverboard trips.
Max Baldetti is more than an athlete, his is also a conservationist. He created RIOS Guatemala in 2011 to promote the conservation and preservation of Guatemala’s rivers. RIOS Guatemala mission is to foster the enjoyment, preservation and restoration of Guatemala’s wild river ecosystems while also providing opportunities for the local people to improve the quality of their lives. www.riosguatemala.com.