Interview with Wave Sport Ethos Designer Hans Nutz
The overall popularity of river touring has sky rocketed in the past 3 years. It’s not surprising when you think about how much fun it is to pack up your whitewater kayak, and travel down river for a few nights of low impact camping. Also, the versatility of modern hybrid whitewater/flatwater kayaks is pretty amazing. They are capable of paddling down class IV+, yet at the same time have enough hull speed and tracking to enjoy a long day on the lake reservoir or ocean.
Wave Sport entered the river touring scene a little bit late in the game. This helped them in a big way. They were able to learn A LOT from the most popular boats like the Pyranha Fusion and the Liquid Logic Remix XP10. They were able to take the highlights, and customer favorites from these boats, and then improve upon what was already out there.
We wanted to know some detailed information about the Wave Sport Ethos, so we reached out to Hans Nutz, who designed the boat from the ground up. Here is what we learned.
1 – Exactly who is the Ethos designed for?
The Ethos was designed for two types of paddlers:
1. Beginner/Intermediate paddlers who want to progress their skills will love the wide range of this boat.
2. Intermediate/Advanced paddlers who have big trip aspirations will appreciate the agility and performance.
2- What type of whitewater is the boat able to handle?
It’s a solid river runner in class II and III+, but paddles surprisingly efficient for those flat-water sections.
Where does it perform best? Officially, it’s recommended for up to III+, and I would say it’s easily capable of that and more.
3 – Where did you draw inspiration from when designing the hull and boat? Are there hints of other Wave Sport designs in it? Or is it completely new altogether…
The Ethos is a ground-up design for Wave Sport, however there are subtle elements in the hull that reflect on past designs. From the beginning phases I wanted the Ethos to inspire confidence in newer paddlers with good stability and a bow that really punches through rapids. I also didn’t want to the boat to become boring or slow to paddle, as with other cross-overs, so we had to find ways to keep that whitewater feel.
3 – What specific features set the Ethos apart from the rest of the pack?
There are a bunch of features on this boat, so I’ll get to a few of them. The deck profile was designed for easy rolls, so it’s an excellent boat to start learning your roll. The Ethos also has a progressive hull chine that allows the newer paddler to progress into edge control. The new bulkhead system has great support and gives you lots of customizable foot room. The CORE WHITEOUT outfitting with the new leg lifter system has fantastic fit adjustments so you can really set the system up for each different river condition.
4 – Why would someone want to pick an Ethos over a Remix XP or Fusion?
Compared to the Remix XP, I think the Ethos is a more agile boat in whitewater; it maneuvers easily, edges and tracks great when you need it. Compared to the Fusion, the Ethos has a bit more stability and a prominent bow to help you punch through stuff.
5 – Where did you test the protos?
For a boat with a broad performance range, I needed to test on conditions from class I to class IV+. So for bigger water, we tested on the Gauley and New Rivers in WV, and then the Nantahala and French Broad in NC for more recreational runs. I just got back from paddling a pre-production Ethos 9 on the Upper Gauley and I have to say it was sweet. It’s fast and keeps me on line through the pushy stuff. I got a lot of looks from other paddlers wondering what I was in.
Who paddled the boats? How did that go?
I wanted to test with users that spanned the skill range from pro paddlers, to people who had only boated a couple times. Many did not have a roll. It was great to get out with new paddlers, get their feedback. It was also great to put new paddlers in a boat with the right stability and see their confidence grow throughout the day.
5 – What features would an intermediate or advanced paddler be interested in?We noticed that the boat has a front bulk head as opposed to foot pegs. It also appears to have white water centric outfitting…
We made a conscious decision to make this boat whitewater capable, so we felt the whitewater bulkhead was a must. You can also customize the fit with our foam kit. Another feature you will notice is the bow and stern rocker. You can carve and catch eddies in this boat with the stern rails, and the bow resurfaces quickly. For camping, the seat system has 4 inches of travel, with a single point of adjustment. You can use this for trimming a packed out boat. The hip pads and thigh braces allow for a bit more room in the cockpit. This should be good for most people, but the outfitting is designed to accept the full whitewater hip/thigh pads should you want more engagement. The leg-lifter is also standard and it allows you to really dial in the fit.
6 – Out west we have lots of great class III/IV overnight runs (Middle Fork of The Salmon, Salt, Rogue, Main Salmon, Rio Chama, Delores, Grand Canyon, etc) – Why would someone want to paddle an Ethos on these trips?
This boat was designed with overnight tripping in mind, so yes I think this would be an excellent choice. You get the advantage of good accessible storage, but still maintain the feel of a good river running boat. The skeg also works great for any long flat sections. Testers found that they used the skeg more often just to reduce fatigue between rapids.
One more note:
This boat is designed to be a boat that you can keep. It’s a great first boat for people who are thinking of getting into whitewater. As skills progress, and the a paddler may want a more specific kayak, this boat will be great to keep for overnights and long treks.
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