Hot swirling rapids conceal helmsman’s initial difficulty (8)
I believe the answer is:
Here is my best explanation:
'difficulty' is the definition.
(hardship is a kind of difficulty)
'hot swirling rapids conceal helmsman's initial' is the wordplay.
'hot' becomes 'h' (abbreviation eg on taps).
'swirling' indicates anagramming the letters.
'conceal' indicates putting letters inside.
'initial' says to take the initial letters.
The initial letter of 'helmsmans' is 'h'.
'rapids' with letters rearranged gives 'ardsip'.
'ardsip' going around 'h' is 'ardship'.