HYDRA 145 CORE WhiteOut
Like a sea monster from the deep, the Hydra possesses plenty of attitude and can certainly hold its own in the big stuff.Learn More
WRITTEN BY: Chris Wing
Athletes tend to spend a lot of time honing in their skill as well as their "feel" when preparing to learn new moves for competition or even fun- so much so that when a company introduces a new boat, we can be a bit skeptical. It's like saying, "Why are you messing with my game, Coach?" This is a tougher sell to even the lay paddler who may not spend the same amount of time in a kayak as a professional athlete.
I stand by saying that kayak design is much like any other sporting equipment design in that it is a personal choice as to what you may like. I can spend all day telling you how your kayaks are going to make you loop higher, surf faster, and last longer, but honestly, it will come down to your physiology, your body of knowledge, and finally, your style as to what is going to be a good fit for you in choosing a kayak. And freestyle boats are tough as they are harder to fit and require a breadth of knowledge in skill while catering to so many different subjective styles; hence, freestyle.
On a side note: There is an argument that freestyle design has largely flattened out in recent history, and I would argue that you need to look only at what is being done in a freestyle boat these days to discuss not only what is possible with your body, but the designs that enable your body to perform the acrobatic maneuvers that are currently being attempted.
I currently spend a great deal of time watching/coaching up and coming athletes as well as study video of current top level athletes. I do also spend a great deal of time in the boats that we are designing here at Wave Sport and know what Hans Nutz, Bryan Kirk and the rest of team Wave Sport is trying to accomplish with their design.
The Möbius was born out of a necessity for a large amount of volume that would reject quickly and explosively from the water and rotate exceptionally quick through a range of tricks being linked together that would be seen at the World Championships in 2013 on the Nantahala River. All of this was top priority when beginning work on the design, although there would remain a strong emphasis on wave performance as has classically been the case with Wave Sport kayaks of the past. I'm going to talk through my impressions of the kayak based on the three criteria above which are the fit/ergonomics, performance/knowledge, and some subjectivity in terms how this boat effects the style of paddling for the paddler.
But first, my statistics:
Height: 5'10"Inseam: 30"
So the boat is roughly 3-4" shorter than the Project X depending on the amount the boat shrinks in production; check this article out here for those sizing specifics. I am one of those weirdos that hasn't had a boat fit perfectly and ergonomically since the Project 52- which, by the way, is still a sick design in all regards. That largely has to do with my unwillingness to hop into the current medium size as throwing around 57+ gallons is a lot of work and can lead to injury in my case. The 49 gallon Möbius floats me just right for my weight, but I do have to get a bit creative to make the fit work for me. Number 1... I don't use foot foam as others do, instead I use an old piece of PFD foam as a taco for my feet in the front of the boat. I'm still able to keep the trim of the boat right where I need it to be without causing any problems with performance. Aside from that, business as usual with the classic and solid Wave Sport outfitting. The thigh riser is a dream to help keep you locked in without having to over tighten the back band or build a bigger foot brace. For those that may seek just a touch more room for feet, you can allow your knees more room by taking apart the thigh hook and removing the outer wing altogether. That definitely makes a difference and knocks some ounces off the weight of the boat.
There is great deal of experimentation that happens in the early phases of a new boat design. Our first incarnation of the Mobius was wicked fast on a wave, WICKED. However, I had to do everything within my power to keep control of the boat as it accelerated way faster than I had ever experienced. It goes without saying that we could have produced that first boat to a very select few paddlers who had the timing and skill set necessary to make it perform. There is a matrix at work with kayak design between accessibility and performance. Every manufacturer has to weigh the amount of performance they would like relative to paddler ability. That being said, this is about as close as you get to blending both. Now, I base that statement on the ability to perform in a kayak as well as learn the skill set for which that kayak was designed. In this case, this kayak was not designed to run rivers; it was designed to excel at freestyle maneuvers. That doesn't mean it can't run rivers, but if what you are hoping to achieve is fast, zippy maneuvers, best check out our Diesel series.
But, I digress: the Möbius has the ability to teach loopers all the latest tricks with some practice. Flatwater practice has gotten easier since I started paddling a Möbius, and I think that translates to how much easier it will be in a feature. It has a great deal of balance from end to end, which is weird for how short the stern is, although I would attribute that to the stern's blockiness. The only complaint I have with the performance would be that transitional moves are a touch different from the Project X. These are tricks like the McNasty and Phonix which require a smooth transition from rotation into loop. The sliciness of the Project X made that transition a lot more predictable. The timing of the Möbius is different and will have to be adjusted to. That being said, once it rotates into the looping phase of the trick, this boat explodes out of the water. All of my tricks have more amplitude after adjusting my timing.
On a wave, this boat just performs. It's faster somehow, although shorter, which is to be attributed to the progressive rocker profile (more waterline). I also think the stern squirts away from the foam pile like a water melon seed, causing a a great deal of acceleration. It's shorter length makes it easier to release for bouncing and carving blunts, airscrews, etc. On a really fast green wave, well.. it's still a sub 7' boat. You will still need those dedicated wave surfers for the really fast waves. In terms of spinning and looseness, it has the classic Wave Sport feel.
Subjective viewpoint (Chris' two cents)
I have really enjoyed being a part of the feedback for this boat. With each new boat, I feel more and more attached to our brand and believe in what Hans and the rest of the team are doing. There certainly is an ethos in what Wave Sport represents, with focus being on what each tiny little detail does for performance. It takes a curious person to truly understand the subtle nuances in each design. Although, you can easily hop in and just paddle away and be just as happy. With the updates in outfitting, making small adjustments in your position and fit can go a long way with how the boat performs, especially in freestyle boats.
Personally, I've been jazzed to spend time in my freestyle boat as time allows between coaching sessions. My current stomping grounds have been the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC... although, I plan on making a move geographically in the next year to refocus on competitive kayaking and coaching. The USNWC however has always been a great testing grounds due to its consistency and its tricky little features. Take a look a the video below from my spring sessions at the USWNC, and be sure to give "the ditch" a visit as it is a fantastic venue to work on skills.