The sea is an unforgiving mistress, but nowhere near as unforgiving as the children’s wetsuits we were forced to squeeze into as we squeaked and chafed our way towards Lee Valley’s Olympic circuit for our first taste of adrenaline-soaked white water rafting.

For the second part of the Red Bull Zero series
, the endlessly energetic dudes over at Red Bull Zero, eager to show us up as the lily-livered sea-pups we really are, set FHM the challenge of confronting the very same crashing waves and treacherous bends that Great Britain’s Olympic heroes overcame on their way to gold medal glory at London 2012.

Wee-your-wetsuit scary, right?

Fortunately, FHM’s towels are literally covered in swimming badges, so we’re no strangers to conquering chlorine. With that in mind, we picked up our paddles, readjusted our rubber and set off on our adventure.

Here are some of the things we learned:

01 Wetsuits make you regret every weight you never lifted.

FHM goes white water rafting

Ned Flanders pulled it off a lot better.


02 Stopping to tell jokes will quickly lead to resentment and, quite possibly, mutiny.

FHM goes white water rafting

03 Keeping your eyes closed and thinking happy thoughts is a perfectly reasonable tactic.

FHM goes white water rafting

04 There is absolutely no shame in being a human shield.

FHM goes white water rafting

The instructors assured us that they weren’t doing it out of spite.

Except for this guy:

FHM goes white water rafting

He was totally doing it out of spite.

05 Pulling angry faces at the water doesn’t seem to help at all.

FHM goes white water rafting

In fact, it just seems to make it madder. Other things that do not seem to help: Our complete lack of fitness. Our non-existent upper-body strength. Our inability to reach the water with our paddle…

06 Falling in is the most awesome part.

FHM goes white water rafting
A controversial opinion which may lead us to miss out on the GB team in Brazil.

Words by Nick Pope
Photography by
James North