As President Bill Clinton was denying his involvement with a White House intern on national television, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” Wave Sport was hyping its first real creek boat, the “Y”
That was ten years ago. Since then, we watched a presidency crumble and we watched Wave Sport introduce and replace seven freestyle models, while the Y remained a trusty creek boat. Sure, it made the switch from being crosslink to linear plastic and was momentarily threatened by the Mutant, but the Y lived on by popular demand and because creek boat sales don’t produce the same research and design budgets as freestyle. President George W. Bush, meet the new Wave Sport Habitat.
Robert Peerson, Wave Sport’s head designer, has been working on Habitat prototypes for more than two years.
He has finally decided on two sizes, the 74 and 80, that Peerson says give him some flexibility in the design. “Although both are based off the same design principles, the smaller-sized Habitat with its shorter length and volume distribution lends itself to smaller paddlers and tight and steeper creeks. The larger Habitat, with its longer length and high float volume distribution, lends itself to larger rivers with a lot of storage capacity for overnight trips.”
Creek boats like the Pyranha Micro and Dagger CFS are great for very tight technical rivers but were virtually impossible to pack gear inside. Today, the trend for creekers is to carry a little more hull speed and more gear. The Habitat borrows from Liquidlogic’s lead by making the stern easy to access with a snap-away back band and low-profile seat. Small items can be packed under the seat through slots at the front.
In the past 10 years the most important creek boat design advancements have been in paddler safety. Wave Sport has created its own plastic front pillar that aids a pinned paddler in stepping out of the cockpit and doubles as a wonderful handle when portaging.
On the deck of the Habitat you’ll find the now-standard five grab loops and anchor points – two at the ends and three around the cockpit. The metal bars are sexy and surely strong but bbrrr, they’re cold. A rubber tube slide over top would have been a nice touch. To finish off the outfitting: the recess’ drain plug is well protected and using the hull to hold the stern pillar results in fewer holes and hardware.
The Habitat is noticeably asymmetrical with the widest and flattest point around your knees. We suspected this was to produce a fish-form shape to increase speed, but Peerson says the volume and width up front is for stability. As you move back to the stern, the hull becomes more displacement-like with high chines. “This shape allows you to use the edges for tracking and stability to carve into turns. Placing these edges high helps me keep them out of the way when scraping down shallow slides,” Peerson says.
It is almost like the Habitat is two completely different boats, depending whether or not you are using the chines.
Keep it flat, and it feels like a spinny, high-volume, forgiving creek boat. Lay it over on edge and it wakes up, carving into edits more like a hybrid river-runner such as the Diesel. On edge it feels like it increases the waterline and jumps up to a faster hull speed and carve.
Wave Sport needed a new model with performance and safety features of a modern full-on creek boat, plus the accessibility of an overnight duffel. Did Wave Sport nail it? There is no doubt in our minds the Habitat will outlast the current president and probably the next one. Here’s hoping there are still creeks to paddle.
Habitat 74 Kayak
Weight: 41 lbs
Volume: 74 gal
Paddler weight: 100-200 lbs
Price: $1000 US, $1249 CAD
Habitat 80 Kayak
Weight: 42 lbs
Volume: 80 gal
Paddler weight: 1250-260 lbs
Price: $1000 USD, $1249 CAD
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