Monday, January 25, 2010

Jackson Villain Prototype - Round 2

I recently had the opportunity to test out Jackson’s new creek boat and here are my first impressions. The Villain is a creeker which also doubles as a river runner, much like the Dagger Mamba and Pyranha Burn. I just missed getting to paddle the first prototype back in December when I got snowed/iced in on this side of the TN/NC state line. Team Jackson paddled it on the Tellico and loved the boat but decided to make a couple of changes. Since I didn’t get to paddle the first version, I can’t really compare the two but one thing I can say is they seemed to have done a great job with the changes.

Paddlers Stephen Wright, Nick Troutman, Clay Wright and Joe Pulliam brought the boat over for a test drive on the Nantahala Cascades. We met in the parking lot and looked the boat over. Hmmm, I was surprised that the hull wasn’t a little flatter. I was a little concerned about the initial stability of the boat (especially for the beginning paddler). Of course the guys I was paddling with could paddle an inflatable gorilla down the Cascades, others might not have the same experience. Soon we were all on the river, except Nick who volunteered to take photos and run shuttle. We only did the Cascades section which was short and sweet but would give us a good feel for the boat.

Even though “the boys” are out there hucking huge every day, Joe and I had not been in our boats lately as much as we would like. In addition, we are both, well, let’s say…chronologically gifted. Although over the years there have been lots of times testing different prototypes on some challenging runs this time I was a little nervous. It didn’t take long in the Villain for those feeling to go away. In fact, soon I was feeling this wasn’t really a prototype at all, but a comfortable and familiar ride. Soon I was trying to push the limits of the boat, turning back against the current and seeing how well it would carry speed for such a quick turning boat. When Clay asked me what I thought, I had to say, “This might be the most easy-to-control boat I can ever remember paddling!”

By the time we were half way down the section, Joe and I were trying to keep up with the young guns. It must have been amusing to them to watch two, umm “mature” men, giggling their way down the river, boofing and doing rocks spins on everything we could find; but that we did … in a burly, manly sort of way of course.

I did have a couple of comments and suggestions for subtle changes but nothing drastic and the boat was clearly a winner without any changes. I’m looking forward to my next run in the new Villain and think others should be too.

I want to give a huge word of thanks to Stephen and Nick who took some great photos of our shenanigans and graciously let me use them for this blog!

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