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Recon 83 or 93 ??? A Comparison

Posted: 13.11.2013


When WS first announced the Recon series, I was keen to see what design features were worked into the new boat, but immediately fired-up about the 93 gallon size.  I loved paddling the Habitat 80 all-around, and especially on creeks.  The main design update I was hoping for was a more lifted nose for gliding away from the base of pour-overs and punching through holes.  I figured an extra 13 gallons of volume would do the trick.  (For frame of reference, I weigh around 185 lbs... anyone will tell you to demo a boat before you buy it; this is my $.02 on the 83 and 93)

When first outfitting the Recon 93, I appreciated how snugly outfitted I felt in the roomy boat with the leg-lifter complementing the thigh braces.  The first run I did in the 93 was the Golden Gate section of the South Fork American.  Golden Gate is a river more so than a creek with steep-continuous stack-ups and several stand-out rapids.  This was an ideal setting to test the boat's boof for higher-volume river features.

Just floating into the first rapids, I felt like I was riding a leaf floating on the surface-tension of the water.  I could drift up to drops with no speed and boof with one stroke.  While some fast boats need to reach hull speed to boof optimally, the Recon's continuous rocker wants to lift the nose upwards from acceleration alone.  The planing attributes of the hull also help the nose take-off to boof.  I had a great time getting acquainted with the boat on familiar rapids.

Later in the season, I was curious to try out the Recon 83 and see if it could boof as loftily as the 93.  The first challenging run I paddled in the 83 was the Burnt Ranch Gorge of the Trinity River.  The river had more water than it would typically have in September thanks to a court ruling requiring the release of flow to keep temperatures cool for the salmon run.  On this run the boat proved to have the attribute I was looking for: a nose that will separate away from the water for easy take-offs and soft-landings on late water-boofs as well as dry rock-boofs.  While it is only 3 gallons larger than the Habitat 80, the optimized volume distribution and continuous rocker help the boat punch through when the waters get turbulent.

I will likely paddle the 83 more than the 93 because it is big enough to float me and because of my paddling preferences.  I often boat low-volume creeks as well as rivers and find that there are times when a slightly smaller boat can be slightly advantageous.  Additionally, I often hike to get to and/or from the river, and encounter some extended portages and awkward portages where a smaller boat is slightly advantageous.  The extra volume of the 93 is really fun to paddle, but a little gratuitous for my size and my preferred rivers.

Paddling the Recon this year, I found that people have been really interested to look the boat over and ask about it.  There are several features and updates in the Recon series that I point out:

Great "dis-planing" hull-  looks displacement when looking at the boat in profile, but planing when looking squarely at the nose of the boat.  This hybridized design approach gives the boat many of the best attributes of both hull styles:  responsive yet forgiving handling, smooth take-offs and soft landings.

Best-in-industry outfitting-  The marine vinyl in the seat, back-band, hip-pads and thigh-braces makes you feel like you're on a high-end wake-boarding boat.  Leg-lifter/ thigh-brace combo makes you feel like you're sitting in a ski-boot of contact and control.  The interlocking design of the bow-pillar and the seat give the boat great structural integrity.  Hex-bolts instead of phillips-head bolts do not get rounded-out over time and will not scratch you if you brush against them.  There are even circular cut-outs in under-sides and non-critical areas of the seat and floor-tray to lighten the superb outfitting.

Bryan Kirk pointed out that WaveSport doesn't feel the need to pop-out new designs every year, instead putting several years of research and development into each product.  The Recon series has proved worth the wait and will prove to be an enduring design in the years to come.  The level of intention invested into these boats really shows all-around.  Whichever size you pick, the Recon lets you get your creek-on and river-running freak-on!