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Recon: A year of Prototyping!

Posted: 23.09.2012

Written by: Bryan Kirk

The beginning of November will bring on Wave Sport's first new creek boat in around 6 years, in 3 sizes. This may be the most-prototyped creeker of all time, with hoards of different prototypes in the different sizes being tested and carefully refined over the past year. We set out with the goal of shaping the most predictable and safe creek boat ever designed. 

After numerous rounds of prototypes of Wave Sport's latest creek boat, the Recon is coming into its own as one of the most exciting new hull shapes ever for class 5 boating. I'll talk a little about my general observations after spending months analyzing prototype changes and getting the different versions (and sizes) out on a variety of whitewater around the country. This has allowed the designer David Maughan (of the Java with Clay W, and many other designs) and Wave Sport's international team to sculpt the hull to be maneuverable in everything from the steepest creeks of West Virginia to big water like the NF Payette.  

We have been dialing in the optimal amount of hull curvature from chine-to-chine. The Recon hits the sweet spot to where it turns and maneuvers through rough currents like a planing hull, and has just enough roundness to be soft-landing and ultra-forgiving in rocky places like Real Manns Creek - arguably WV's hardest creek. Real Manns was one of our testing grounds right in my backyard in Fayetteville, WV:

Shane Groves strokes towards the exit boof of Energizer on Real Manns

Shane makes a tough boof further down Real Manns in the 2nd prototype:


Shane drops into one of the more nerve-racking rapids on Mill Creek near Fayetteville, Headless Horseman:

We set out with very specific goals for the Recon and how it deals with holes. We gave the bow a hole-piercing shape, combined with a voluminous, seed-shaped stern specifically for cutting though water and thrusting its way out and away from the base of drops. The next 3 sequential shots show these features in action:

1) Getting the nose up slightly as I drop into a sloping hydraulic:

2) The bow pierces into the oncoming foampile of the hole, as the stern loads without backendering: 

3) The watermelon-shaped stern volume thrusts the boat forwards. The boat rockets away from the base of the drop, straight downstream and in control:

The Recon was also designed to deal with holes in another, albeit more popular technique: the boof to plane. The next 2 sequential shots show this on Mill Creek, WV:

1)The boof!

2) The planing race line:

I had the chance to get on a new gem in the New River Drainage, Cranberry Creek. It features some of the biggest slides in southern WV. This was a great place to test the edge placement for their forgiveness on long slides. Needless to say, I can't wait to get the Recon on some more slides like Yule Creek or the Toxaway!

Cranberry slide:

Of course we took the various versions of the Recon down multiple Green laps. We wanted to be absolutely sure that it felt right at home on the Southeast's most paddled class 5 run!

Me charging into the notch (I don't like to mess around with the plugging technique here ;-):

Andy Hobson test paddling the 1st version of the 8'8" Recon 93 on the Monkey:

The 83 at the boof at Zwick's:

The obligatory Go-Left shot. No left shoulder bangin' on this run:

After months of steep, low-volume testing, we needed to make sure our continuous rocker profile, chine location, and volume placement paddled well on higher volume, pushier runs. It is a creeker after all, and most creek boats get manhandled on big water, get type-writered all over the place, and are major hole bait. Laps on the Lower Meadow went well this past spring, so we took the Recon to some pushy runs out west. 

Shane drops into Supermax on Colorado's Bailey Canyon:

Bailey Canyon had some push, but the Recon felt like it could easily handle a lot more. Here's Dan Simenc in the 83 3rd prototype on the North Fork of the Payette:

Dan's initial impressions of the Recon on his backyard bigwater run can be found here. Needless to say, I think Dan has found his new NF Payette boat of choice. Flipping is seriously not an option on the North Fork. It's shallow and sharp, and the Recon is the most stable boat I've ever paddled. During my laps on the NF this summer, the Recon felt like a safety device on the river. It really is amazing how much the boat resists flipping over. Some video of the Recon in big water on the NF Payette, and even scarier high-water Icicle Creek in WA can be found here. The chine height felt spot-on for carving around and staying on line even in the biggest whitewater I paddled all summer. 

The Northwest is the perfect place to test how well the Recon lands waterfalls. The sharper, more displacement-shaped bow tends to slice into the landing of waterfalls, making for some fairly soft landings. The bow is definitely the last part of a creeker's hull that you want getting rejected, because if the bow doesn't go under, the boat is going to stop its downward motion very abruptly.

Here's Adam Johnson launching Spirit falls on the Little White in the 1st 93 prototype:

Here's me on Big Brother on the White Salmon:

The Recon passed the waterfall test with flying colors. Soft landings, with upright resurfacing.

The Recon was designed to do one thing incredibly well - the staple of all creeking moves - the boof! As soon as I slide into the water at the put-in of any river with the Recon, the height of the bow over the water strikes me with a sense of confidence that I'll easily be able to keep by bow up over any type of drop. 

Here is Shane making a tricky boof on the most-portaged drop on Bailey Canyon, 'Slot':

Slot is a sloping drop with a paddle-tripping rock right where you want to take your boof stroke. A missed boof here could mean a nasty surf, often leading to a swim under an undercut wall.

Here's the tricky-to-line-up boof in the middle of Supermax on Bailey. The lead in is a tough ferry across a fast jet of water in order to line up for a 2' wide launch pad:

Here's Chris Baer all fired up to take the 1st proto of the 93 down the Tallulah. You can notice from this angle that the bow is much sleeker than the one on the old Habitat series. This drastically decreased the bow's 'plowing' effect and gave us heaps more speed than its predecessor. 

The Recon will come into shops with the new Core White Outfitting. It has a bomber rotomolded front pillar, new cushy, ergonomic footrest, and a ratcheting leglifter that supports underneath your thighs and eliminates the need to constantly hold your legs up. Four clip points behind the seat, a new water bottle/throwrope holder, and tool-free seat movement are all integrated into the most comfortable Wave Sport outfitting ever.

If I had to sum up the Recon's overall 'feel' on the water in one word, I would have to call it Solid. The way it keeps me on the surface and in control in all types of rapids, with an enormous amount of stability and balanced volume, makes me glad to throw the Recon on my truck no matter what class 5 I'm on my way towards.  

In case the last 21 photos of Recon testing weren't enough, here's a Recon teaser with various prototypes on some of the best whitewater around!

Ladies and smaller folks, take a look at the Recon 70. No need to look for the 10 year old Javas anymore!