In a response to a comment on the previous CKS review of the Wave Sport Recon 93, the following is a more detailed review of the performance of the Recon in relation to other boats on the market and its specific performance characteristics on the water.
My stats:6'1", 180lbs without gear.
Paddling for 9 years, heavily in class V for the last 6.
I started paddling 9 years ago in the original Jefe. Since then I have made my way through the Burn, Everest, and most recently the Stomper. All of these are great and proven designs capable of taking you down the stoutest whitewater you can find. That said, here is my impression of how the Recon stacks up against the competition.
Shane Groves on Real Manns Creek.
At this point, I have paddled the Recon on the New (from -2 feet to 7 feet) and six or so laps on the Russell Fork last fall during the festival/race (around 1100 cfs). The best description of the Recon, using the Jefe/Everest/Burn/Recon as a framework for comparison, is that it has the boofing ability of the Jefe and Stomper (even better in my opinion) with the speed and edgy feel of the Burn/Everest. It is faster than the Burn, and probably on par or a little faster than the Everest, but much easier to control given the increased rocker in the Recon. In rapids like Gettin’ Busy on the Little White, I felt the Everest would lock onto a line and stay there, making a change in direction require a good amount of effort. In contrast, the Recon has the ability to hold a line like the Everest/Burn, but the edges can be disengaged easily, making changing direction much easier using minor bow draws and duffeks in tight, technical rapids.
Bryan Kirk airing it out on The Green River Narrows
The Recon is also great on bigger water as the edges make the boat perform when waves and reactionaries start pushing you around. I was reminded of the of the downsides to the complete displacement hull a couple of months ago when I took a Jefe Grande down the S.F. Yuba (49 to Bridgeport) at healthy flows. In the Jefe, getting surfed left and right by reactionaries was the name of the game, and the complete displacement hull made things a bit more interesting. The Recon is the complete opposite of this. You can have great control over the boat in bigger water, especially if you push the seat back a bit. This allows you to engage the edges, and it behaves a bit more like a playboat rather than a 93-gallon creeker making for great fun in the big, crashing waves. This also relates to great performance when plans go awry, and surfing out of holes is the easiest of any boat I have paddled.Punching holes is also one of the Recon’s greatest strengths due to the rocker profile and stern volume, which combine to carry you through the beefiest of hydraulics. Even with a lame boof stroke, you can make it through some meaty stuff.
John Rugh surfing on the New.
In the outfitting department, the new Core Whiteout Outfitting is the most comfortable I have ever felt in a boat. It feels more performance oriented than LiquidLogic (I always felt like the LL outfitting was a little too "comfortable" and made the connection between the body and boat feel a bit muted), and more enhanced than what you find in a Pyranha. The leg lifter (a third ratchet between your legs that lifts the front of the seat) is really what pulls it all together and sets this outfitting apart. Having the support under your thighs pulls you into the seat, and really establishes a connection between you and the boat. Edging is easier, and your legs aren't working as hard because you don’t have to push them up into your braces. The outfitting is also a breeze to set up. I recently picked up my 93 and it took about 10 minutes at the take-out to get it all set up. For those interested in really dialing it in, you also have the option of using different sized foam foot blocks that Velcro to the bulkhead, an additional seat pad, and a wide array of other foam pieces to further enhance your connection to the boat. To top it off, adjustments are simple with the supplied allen wrench, and little details like the attached bulkhead adjustment nuts and spring loaded safety bulkhead really complete the package.
Shane Groves paddling mid Supermax on Baileys - a Colorado classic.
To sum up this boat, it is immediately comfortable and confidence inspiring. In my experience, I have always felt there is a period of time when I get a new boat in which I am "getting used" to it and don't feel as comfortable. This did not happen with the Recon.The first time I got in the Recon was on the Russell Fork at 1100cfs. I had never been on the Russell Fork, and I was in a mad dash following various big name paddlers to get warmed up for the race. I literally stepped out of the truck, put my gear on, moved the bulkhead to allow for my giant legs, added a pad on each side of my hips, and that was it. Ten minutes later I was boofing tower for the first time, and following someone through some other crazy line, completely forgetting I was in a new boat. It just paddled like I had been in it my entire paddling life.
When it comes down to it, all creekers on the market these days are great boats. But, the Recon truly stands above the bunch as one of the most thought out designs I have ever seen or paddled, and it is certainly evident when you get it on the water. As the boating season is nearly upon us, the Recon definitely deserves a look if you are considering a new boat. Now, be safe and get out and shoot them rapids.
Wave Sport Ambassador