WaveSport Diesel (prototype)

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So why would SNEWS® bring a test of a prototype whitewater boat to our readers? Since the WaveSport Diesel will be available for spring delivery and next-to-final prototypes are now being paddled by a select few (including SNEWS), we felt it our obligation to report to retailers what we know at this point. Besides, nothing is cooler than being first to test a new boat!

And, it looks like manufacturers may be on to something. For years whitewater boats were getting smaller and smaller, but that trend seems to be reversing. Given the response that our reviewer experienced when paddling the Liquid Logic Hoss, which was previously reviewed in SNEWS, it appears that the public may be ready for boats that don't resemble Tupperware storage containers.

Granted, the WaveSport Diesel we tested was a composite, and, because it is stiffer and lighter, it'll paddle faster and be slightly more nimble than the final rotomolded production model. Initial evaluations indicate that the Diesel takes the same design philosophy as the Pyranha H3 and the Liquid Logic Hoss. Unlike the Pyranha and Hoss, the Diesel definitely leans more to the playful side. Our tester reported that the hull is extremely loose and that the boat is lightning-quick when going from edge-to-edge. This may be due to the hulls chines, which aren't quite rounded, but reminiscent of a Greenland sea kayak. The hull's flat bottom transitions in two distinct hard-edged steps to the hull's side. This seems to eliminate the "all or nothing feel" when edging most planning hull boats, and inspires confidence when the boat is in turbulent water.

Scott Robards, formerly of Confluence, reported that the Diesel will be available in two sizes. At this time, a smaller 67-gallon boat with a length of 7-feet, 6 inches and a width of 25 feet is being planned, as well as a 75-gallon, 8-foot long, 25.5-inch wide boat. Our 190-pound tester reported that he felt right at home in the smaller Diesel prototype for 90 percent of his paddling, including moderate creeking.

WaveSport's outfitting has avoided inflatable bladders and ratcheting backbands. While this prototype was outfitted for our tester, the body-to-boat interface was superb with all components working as a unit to translate body movement into boat movement. We have no doubt that the Diesel's production outfitting will live up to that reputation.

Reports from the factory indicate that the boat we tested and the final version will be nearly identical. Production models will have recessed grab handles, a rolled over cockpit rim, an adjustable bulkhead and an adjustable thigh brace system. If this is any indication, our tester told us: "If they had put a grab loop on the prototype, they would not be getting it back."

Initial indications point to WaveSport having a boat for spring 2004 that may rival sales of flagship models such as the WaveSport EZ. With new boat sales in a slump and a market that is oversaturated with playboats, these new user-friendly designs may be just the ticket to motivate paddlers who are after new school performance and old school comfort to get back out on the water.

SNEWS Rating: While we really wanted to keep all hands in pockets until the production boat is released our arms are being twisted by curious retailers sufficiently to offer up a conditional 4.5 rating on the prototype. (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested retail: $999

For more information:

www.wavesport.com

336-434-7470

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