Photo: Vaughn Roberts video, Penrhyn Mawr Tidal Race (Wales) - Click to enlargevideo link
See descriptions of tidal race (or "tide rip")
For many years most surfskiers have left human powered boating for recreation in these tidal phenomena to other vessels such as sea kayaks (for example hurricane riders). But in the right circumstances surfskis and OCs can thrive there too and do some kinds of wave surfing better than any other craft. Many of the races listed below will rarely if ever provide worthwhile or safe conditions for surfskis. But some probably offer excellent opportunities when conditions are right and a paddler's skills and local knowledge are up to it. Someone just needs to study more of the tidal races that are reasonably accessible and learn how they work.
There already are a fair share of tide races popular with surfskiers around the world. The surfski and OC communities in the Pacific Northwest have spent time studying and practicing in their nearby tidal races at Deception Pass and Ambleside and find them exceptionally fun and great for conditioning and skill development when conditions are right (though not for the faint of heart or skill when they run big). The Surfski Center in Tarifa makes La Bajeta tide race a regular place for lap parties during their downwinding classes. And Jersey Channel Island paddlers regularly play in the waves of their Noirmont tide race.
Tidal races offer unusual variations of downwinding and surfing with their own technical, challenging and sometimes ill-advised for paddling conditions. Some tidal currents create standing or slow moving waves that are surfable while other locales offer wind swell going against the tidal current with waves stacking up and moving up-current making for downwind like paddling that can be similar to the Columbia River Gorge though often with stronger counter current. Catching such tide race waves, particularly fast moving ones against the tide can require a lot of power and acceleration. Skilled sea kayakers often like to play on the waves and in the roil of eddy lines and whirlpools that are common around tide rips, while surfskiers generally are looking for sections where they can use their speed to catch, maneuver on and link waves in a downwind surfing manner. Tide races need to be thoroughly investigated in terms of variability and degree of hazard and either prepared for or avoided as conditions and skills dictate.
OC Surfing Ambleside
Baynes Channel Victoria BC
Penwryn Mawr Tidal Race in Wales
Jupiter Inlet, Florida Tidal Race Surfing
Big Day at Deception Pass Tide Race (Washington State)