The Swiss Outdoor Association (SOA) Whitewater/River SUP Instructor & Guide 1 Workshop, is for people who want to commercially guide and/or teach whitewater SUP tours. This is the ideal course if you want to work in the whitewater or river SUP sector in the future, or give tour guide instructions during your private trips with friends and family.

Short SUP Guide 1 Instructor Course Syllabus

Our experienced Swiss Outdoor Association (SOA) Instructor Trainers present the latest teaching and paddling techniques. Each Instructor or SOA Whitewater Guide 1 Certificate Course consists of two parts: An Instructor Development Workshop where the prospective instructor presents and applies the teaching techniques learned and an Instructor Safety Workshop (Safety & Rescue) where the prospective instructors train and develop their safety, rescue and hazard recognition skills.

Course Certificate / Course Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, the student will be competent and adequately prepared to take the Swiss Outdoor Association SUP Whitewater Guide Level 1 Exam (Up to WW 3). The 2022 Swiss Outdoor Association “SOA WW SUP Guide 1” exam will take place on June 10-11, 2022. (Please register directly with the Swiss Outdoor Association).

Furthermore, after this 4-day workshop, the prospective guides will receive the Madfish tour guide certificate as well as an admission paperwork to the SOA Guide 1 exam. In order to receive the certificate and admission, the course objectives must be successfully completed. The course objectives are based on both paddling skills, safety knowledge and the participants’ ability to learn. This course is only suitable for those with whitewater experience and the respective paddling skills required in this environment.

The Swiss Outdoor Association (SOA) offers additional instructor certifications in three different levels (SUP Lake Guide, SUP Whitewater SUP Guide 1, SUP Whitewater Expert), with each level requiring an ever-improving understanding of paddling technique, rescue concepts and leadership methodology, as well as the ability to teach and execute these concepts in increasingly difficult rivers and rapids. All exams can be take in English. For more information on training criteria, contact the Swiss Outdoor Association. Other eligibility requirements of the Swiss Outdoor Association for the SOA SUP Guide 1 qualification include.

  1. Red Cross First-Aid Certificate (max. 2 years old)
  2. Red Cross CPR Certificate (max. 2 years old)
  3. A Personal Logbook proving at least 40 hours or 80 km of WW SUP trips on Grade 2 to 3
  4. Proof of at least 5 assistant trip leaders positions or exam admission papers issued by a SOA Expert (This will be granted to those who have successfully participated in the course)

If you wish to work in the paddlesports industry, SOA certification is considered the “gold standard” for industry & paddlesports instructors.


This course can be taken as a follow up to our SUP whitewater Advanced course, or as a very skilled and experienced whitewater SUPer (minimum age: 17). This course is aimed at commercial trip and tour leaders as well as those traveling with friends or family. If you are a first-time participant in one of our courses, you should already have the following basic knowledge in grade 2 rivers:

  • Knowledge of correctly using your leash
  • The basic whitewater “Paddle-Box” Stroke
  • The Bow Stroke (both sides incl. body rotation)
  • The Indian, Duffek and S-Strokes
  • The Passive Draw Stroke
  • The Dynamic, Surfer and Parallel Stance
  • Solid knowledge of how to Ferry a Grade 2 river
  • Basic knowledge of using Throw bags
  • Solid experience in hitting Eddies in grade 2+
Whitewater SUP meeting on the Vorderrhein, Switzerland
Trip section: Versam (Graubünden), Switzerland to Trin
SOA Instructor Trainers: Norbert Sommerfeld (Links), Stefan Ulrich (Rechts)
WW SUP Safety exercise on the Vorderrhein: Trip section Castrich (Graubünden), Switzerland to Valendas

Required Equipment/Gear:

Whitewater SUP board (Max 10′2″), whitewater SUP paddle, leash, PFD, neoprene, helmet, knee pads and whitewater paddle shoes and rescue equipment. All the equipment (except shoes) or parts of it can be rented from us. If you need any equipment, please mark it on the registration form. A whitewater SUP set can be rented for CHF 55.00 / day as a course participant.


  • CHF 665.00 for the 4 day course excl. SOA exam fees & excl. gear. We ask for cash payment directly to the instructor on the day of the course.
  • White water SUP gear (board, paddle, leash, PFD, neoprene, helmet, knee pads) can be rented as a course participant for CHF 55.00 / day.

Food & Hotels

All meals and hotels and/or camping fees are at the expense of the course participant. Madfish is available to recommend a hotel, B&B or camping site to participants.

Course duration & Focus:

  • Training Schedule (6. to 9. June 2022):
  • 1. Day, 10 – 17; Focus: Whitewater SUP Paddling Skills & Leadership
  • 2. Day, 10 – 17; Focus: Whitewater SUP Paddling & Instructional Techniques
  • 3. Day, 10 – 17; Focus: Whitewater SUP Safety, Rescue & Recovery
  • 4. Day, 10 – 17; Focus: Whitewater SUP Safety & Leadership Workshop
  • Optional SOA Whitewater SUP Guide 1 Exam (10. & 11. June 2022):
  • 5. Day, 9 – 15; Focus: SOA WW SUP Tripleader & Guide 1 Theory Exam
  • 6. Day, 10 – 17; Focus: SOA WW SUP Guide 1 Practical Exam
  • Please note: SOA Tripleader & Guide 1 exam participants must register separately and directly with the Swiss Outdoor Association. The exam fees must also be paid directly to the Swiss Outdoor Association.
Whitewater SUP Participant Nancy “Chilling out” after her run

River & Section

Vorderrhein, Schweiz

  • Day 1: 7104 Versam (Graubünden) to 7015 Reichenau, Switzerland
  • Day 2: 7104 Versam (Graubünden) to 7015 Reichenau, Switzerland
  • Day 3: 7104 Versam (Graubünden) to 7014 Trin, Switzerland
  • Day 4: 7104 Versam (Graubünden) to 7014 Trin, Switzerland
  • Day 5: SOA Trip-Leader & Guide 1 Theoretical Exams (Not included in course fees)
  • Day 6: SOA Guide 1 Practical Exam (Not included in course fees)

Meeting Point:

We will meet at the parking lot directly next to the train station in 7104 Versam-Safien GR, Switzerland. You will see our van with our Madfish logo on it parked in the lot. We will be waiting there for you!