|Max Capacity:||150 lbs||68 kg|
|Deck Height:||14.25″||36 cm|
|Weight:||48 lbs||22 kg|
|Cockpit Width:||19″||48 cm|
|Paddler Weight:||80-150 lbs||36-68 kg|
|Volume:||70 gal||265 ltr|
|Deck Height:||15.25″||39 cm|
|Weight:||50 lbs||23 kg|
|Cockpit Length:||34″||86 cm|
|Cockpit Width:||19.25″||49 cm|
|Paddler Weight:||140-200 lbs||64-91 kg|
|Volume:||83 gal||314 L|
|Max Capacity:||275 lbs||125 kg|
|Deck Height:||15.75″||40 cm|
|Weight:||55 lbs||25 kg|
|Cockpit Length:||34″||86 cm|
|Cockpit Width:||19.25″||49 cm|
|Paddler Weight:||180-275 lbs||82-125|
|Volume:||93 gal||352 ltr|
Review by Brian Ginsberg
A crisp, cold October morning dawns deep in the Northern Sierra and I find myself both eager and nervous to get in my new boat. My friends and I have made are way to the remote gem that is the South Fork of the Feather River. The difficulty rating on this run is much disputed as the majority of the rapids are IV+ in nature (albeit IV+ with pointy rocky teeth), but I do not think anyone would contest that the first gorge, lasting about a third of a mile, is anything but a solid class V proving ground.
As I slide into my new Wavesport Recon 83 and pop on the spray skirt, my mind is filled with visions of one particular rapid. Towards the end of the first gorge, there is a series of drops that glide seamlessly together to form my favorite line up of the run. The middle drop is a 12 ft tall ramp/falls that has a straightforward lead-in, but provides some spice with the presence of a delightful undercut cave on the left that loves to stuff boaters in its depths.Last year while paddling my Wavesport Habitat 80, I cleaned the drop smoothly about half of the time while my other attempts found me imitating the Heisman Trophy as I shoved myself out of the cave. Only one way to find out how the new boat would handle this drop.
Driving hard, I line myself up and pull hard on my paddle blade, accelerating towards the lip. I know timing and angle are both critical as the delayed boof needs to steer me clear of the cave, over the hole, and through the intense boil downstream. As I dig deep for the right boof stroke and pull my bow up using my entire core I am instantly rewarded, leaving the water and flying through the air. Splat! I nearly land the boat flat as I soar past the hazards and let loose a huge shout of joy. I have just discovered the best feature of my new boat, something that has changed the name of the game in creek boat design: continuous rocker.
The main feature that distinguishes the Recon from the Habitat and other creek boats is its continuous rocker profile; the boat slopes continuously upward to the bow and stern from its lowest point in the center of the hull. This rounded profile allows the boat to lift out the water with the greatest of ease. Even when paddling the boat on runs without significant vertical features, it makes clearing small holes and ledges a pleasure as you easily pull the boat out of the water.
An added benefit of the new rocker profile is the boat’s turning ability. The continuous rocker allows for a much more dynamic and variable pivot point underneath the boat. In the Habitat, I sometimes felt like the sides of the boat would meet a lot of resistance as it turned, while the Recon feels much more agile and responsive. The Recon 83 is only one inch shorter than the Habitat 80, but the hull shape actually places much less of the boat in the water. This shorter effective length is certainly a plus for catching eddies and taking aggressive bow draws, but there are some disadvantages.
Anytime a new boat comes to the market, it is almost always followed by wild claims of being an improvement in every regard: faster, more stable, and easier to boof. With less of the boat in the water, the Recon 83 feels and behaves like a much shorter creek boat, which unfortunately means you lose a little bit of speed. Last month, I had chosen the Recon 83 over my old Habitat for the Tobin Race on the North Fork Feather. I did find the boat a vast improvement while paddling throughout the steep, technical boulder gardens; however, I found myself moving a slower in the flats. I was torn between my love for the Habitat’s speed and the Recon agility, but luckily I have found a solution.
I was sure that the 83 gallon version of the Recon would be the perfect fit for me as it approximated my Habitat 80 in both volume and length. The boat felt great while trying it out it via the River Store’s convenient demo program, so I didn’t think twice and ordered one. I was sure there was no way that I could handle the 93 gallon, 8’ 8” behemoth that marks the big boy version of the Recon. Well, I took the Recon 93 out the other day for a test drive and much to my surprise I was in paddling heaven. The boat had the speed I was looking for, maintained the benefits of quick maneuverability, and kept me much more on top of the water than the Recon 83 – a serious advantage when dealing with turbulent rapids. Apparently the old adage of “bigger is better” held true once again. I am extremely excited to get my hands on a 93, load it up with some overnight gear and tackle some multiday runs. The rear of the boat looks like it can gobble up any amount of overnight gear you throw at it.
Another great reason to get into any Wavesport boat is the outfitting: the inside of these boats cannot be beat! Aside from comfort, the thigh braces in the Recon provide unparalleled edging control. On the Recon and other Wavesports, there is a new ratcheting thigh support system, which lifts the legs into a secure and aggressive paddling position. Other nice touches include wing-nuts for the bulkhead that are attached to the boat; in the past I found myself constantly tightening and losing these small yet essential pieces of hardware. There are also more lashing points inside the boat to strap gear to, as well as a spot in front of the seat to clip in a water bottle and a rope simultaneously – excellent for an emergency rescue situation. There are also some additional rescue bars (places to clip a carabineer in the case of a pin) located on the sides of the cockpit. This new redesign of the Wavesport creeker has me extra excited for winter: bring on the rain!
Bottom line: The recon is a great boat. With many enhancements over the Habitat and all the advantages of Wavesport outfitting this is the best creek boat on the market. Continuous rocker is the wave of the future and not just for those taking on extreme class V+ creeks. Head to the River Store and try one of these out today.