WaveSport Project Whitewater Kayak Review With Bryan Kirk

The WaveSport Project series has been getting quite a bit of attention recently, mainly do to the introduction of the ultra-light, carbon-fiber Project 54Cx. Peter Csonka also won the 2008 World Freestyle Championships in a Project 52, which gives reason to think that this boat is still a top notch freestyle machine. Here is a summary from Bryan Kirk about the history of the boat, as well as his thoughts on why it is such a good performer for both men and women paddlers:

Wave Sport’s Project playboat is gaining legendary status. It was conceived and tested by Jimmy Blakeney, Robert Peerson, Bryan Kirk, and other WS Team freestylers to be a fast, poppy, carving wave and hole machine. It was released originally in summer 2005, and is still impressing playboaters who take one for a spin in 2009. The hull is the same epic shape as it always was, but the new Projects all have a beefed-up cockpit designed to withstand years of thrashing.

The Project continues to be paddled to victory at pro freestyle events around the world. In late summer of 2008, Peter Csonka dominated the World Cup in his Project 52, and took the gold medal in the biggest event of the year. Bryan Kirk took the win at the 1st annual NOC Pro Invitational in his Project 52 in August. He was in the lead by over a hundred points in the prelims and finals to take home the $750 1st place prize.

The Project was an evolution of the mighty ZG’s, and was tested on the waves of the New River Dries and Buseater on the Ottawa River. A total of five prototypes were tested to totally perfect the hull and deck shape. This is quite possibly the most effort that has ever gone into testing a new playboat design.

Our goals for the Project were the ultimate in high performance freestyle paddling. We would not stop our R&D mission until we had the fastest, loosest hull on the planet. It’s been four years since the Project was released, and the only boat in the world that is looser is the P54Cx, a carbon/kevlar $2500 super-boat! We also tested different deck configurations until we arrived at the optimum combination of slice for cartwheels and pop for loops.

The Project is also a top playboat choice for women. Former Team WS paddler Tanya Shuman is still heard today saying, “the 45 is my dream boat.” She was even spotted this week down on the Dries surfing her P45. She’s in radiology school now, but is still able to rip on a wave in her Project. Her favorite aspect of the Project is that it is easy for her to get on edge and throw around.

There are very few boats that have stayed at the top of their category for as long as the Project has. It has remained unchanged from its original honed shaped for good reason: the boat does not hold you back in your mission to go bigger.

-Bryan Kirk

Specs:

Length

Width

Weight

Cockpit

Volume

Paddler Weight

Length

Width

Project 45

5’ 11”

24.5”

30lbs

33.5”

19”

45 GAL

80-140lbs.

Project 52

6′ 1″

25”

31lbs

33.5”

19”

52 GAL

139-190lbs

Pros:

  • One of the best wave boats ever made(check out YouTube below).

  • The Project works well as a downriver freestyle boat(see YouTube clip below). The ends are well balanced and the hull feels much more stable than some other full-on rodeo boats like Riot’s and Liquid Logic’s. They seem to do well at the park, but can be a handful downriver.

  • The Project is super easy to roll, similar to the Fuse Series.
  • The slicey ends make cartwheeling easy,even for light paddlers(see video below).

  • Comfortable outfitting(one more YouTube for ya’).

  • It’s been around for a while, but has proven itself as a world class freestyle boat.
  • The 45 gallon version is great for smaller paddlers and women.
  • Waaaay less expensive than the Project 54Cx, and performs almost as well.

Cons:

  • The Project is an awesome boat if you can find a size that fits you. The jump from 52 to 64 gallons is a big span. It’s too bad that there is not a boat for the “in between size” kayaker (me). Paddlers in the 6’0″-6’2″ and 180-200 pound size range will probably move to another boat (The All Star) because they do not really fit in either size Project(serious toe jam in the 52 or floating in the 64 ). If you’ve got the coin, the Project 54Cx will be 54 gallons, and have more room for larger boaters. Maybe a Project 54 is on the way???
  • If you like having the newest, latest and greatest gear…the Project is not for you. It has been out for a long time. Go get a Project 54Cx or a Liquid Logic Biscuit. Remember though, people are still buying and paddling this boat for a reason.

The Verdict:

WaveSport has not changed the Project in quite a while. They created a boat 4 years ago, knew it was a winner, and let it sit. Instead of trying to constantly reinvent the wheel or tweak out a great design, they left the boat as is, and let it’s resume speak for itself. There are some drawbacks to the WS Project, like not being able to fit in it if you are in the 6’0″+ range, and do not want to have to paddle a 64 gallon play boat(the next size up from the 52).

Overall, this boat is a time-proven winner, and does most things really,really well(wave surf, throw down in a hole, etc). For this reason it has been cartwheeling it’s way down rivers all over the world, and winning champsionships for the past 4 years. If you’ve been drooling over the 54Cx dream machine, but don’t have the money for it, you should take a look at the WS Project series.

Note:
If you happen to fall into the 6’0″ range, are too large or heavy for the Project 52, and are looking for a comfortable boat that has a similar feel, you may want to check out the WS Fuse Series. They make a Fuse 56 that is sized perfectly for the mid to large adult paddler.
Click here to read the review and learn more about the boat. The blog post has some great video in it as well.

ProjectWave sportWhitewater kayaks

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