After following the development of the new Wave Sport Recon 83 for a year or so and waiting for the final version, I have been itching to paddle it. A good spell of rain pushed Overflow creek to almost two feet, a perfect occasion to try the boat.
Overflow Creek is a tributary that flows into the Chattooga River near the Hwy 28 Bridge on Section II. There are a wide variety of drops that gave me opportunity to test the Recon’s hull relative to about any context you’ll find on any river. Overflow starts with little Class III slots through rhododendron, slots just narrow and pushy enough to be terrifying because you have to hit certain lines and duck trees on some of them. You usually have about 3 seconds advance notice to find an eddy or nail a line; the Recon was perfect for both. You can drive to nearly full speed in two strokes, and with your posture forward the boat tracks really straight, similar to the Diesel series. It was perfect for driving to a certain spot to boof or when needing to duck a tree. The Recon is a great boat for last desperate eddy catching. If you pull down on the paddle during strokes you can lift the bow some and it turns like a freestyle boat. Once you make the turn, shift forward and it straight drives where you pointed it… It reminds me of an old favorite, the Wave Sport Mutant.
There is a rapid called Peewee or the “Falls” that is about a twelve foot drop by the left wall into a gnarly hole. The ledge curves downstream and a veil ledge-hole backs up the pit by the wall. I never quite went to the right, and aired off the left side into the main pit. The Recon plugged and I did a meltdown under the boils and came up about ten feet downstream. Singley’s is a 25-foot, left to right funnel slide into a hole against the rhododendron on the right bank. I had the average run, pushing left and eventually launching totally out control and aerial into the maul and hopefully poping out without surfing. At “the Falls” and Singley’s I stayed centered, trusted and waited, and the boat ran out flat and stable, even from deep under water in the first hole. The Recon has the rocker response you expect in a good creek boat, you can drive into almost anything and it planes over the foam pile and maintains Mach speed. Some of the drops on Overflow force awkward boof strokes, and there are some serious ledge seam holes reminiscent of their cousin Jawbone, miles downstream. In all scenarios it was easy to jerk the bow up with some Ninja English and slap it on top of the foam pile, a must-have characteristic for a serious creek boat.
Summing it up through the rapids: the Recon was excellent, fast and graceful for the whole run. I wasn’t even close to flipping or instability anywhere on the river. I did portage Marginal, and then caught terrific air off the seam in the next drop.
The Recon outfitting has some great improvements; most are very simple but great because they are really built into the boat.
- One of my favorites is the water bottle holder; it is two straps with a band linking them. The simple but brilliant part is a loop for the cap end of the bottle. This awesome little feature keeps the bottle from flying into your feet during super-ultra-fast rock-induced deceleration events…or if you crash into the bank catching Truckstop eddy at Nantahala Falls (I told you the boat was fast, right?).
- There is a spot along the floor in front of the seat with bungees to tuck a pair of flip-flops away.
- Another simple but great feature is the three loops on each side of the seatback to clip items in—which is much better than using a back band strap.
- A ratchet (similar to a standard snowboard ratchet with quick release) between your legs cranks the front of the seat up a few degrees, setting you right in the thigh hooks.
- There is a new padded back band, and the seat and hips are the latest white vinyl as are the back band and thigh pads.
- There are little leashes on the bulkhead wing nuts so they don’t get lost if they vibrate off, a smart addition.
- The Recon has the plastic center wall that is a step-out if the boat is vertical, metal attachment points on hull.
- The new rubber grab loops are better for dragging a boat than the metal plate style. Let’s say you are dragging the boat up a soil bank, and when you get about eight feet up and almost top out you feel an ominous little twitch under your feet. You don’t remember which boulder behind you you’ll land on if you fall, but you know it’s really far away. So you squeeze whatever you’re holding onto really hard and dig your toes and kneecaps into the hillside, freezing in terror as you analyze friction and downward movement… Yeah, the new grab handles are good for that.
Overall, the Recon hull and outfitting are more advanced than I would have expected. I was thrilled with the Recon’s handling and outfitting and don’t really want to run creeks again until I have one.