Boats/Boards Wave_Sport_Recon_Product_Review_John_Ehlinger

Published on April 9th, 2013 | by


Wave Sport Recon 93 Test Drive

The Wave Sport Recon 93 Review By Jonathan Ehlinger

In a response to a comment on the previous CKS review of the Wave Sport Recon 93, the following is a more detailed review of the performance of the Recon in relation to other boats on the market and its specific performance characteristics on the water.

About me:
My stats:
6’1″, 180lbs without gear.
Paddling for 9 years, heavily in class V for the last 6.
I started paddling 9 years ago in the original Jefe. Since then I have made my way through the Burn, Everest, and most recently the Stomper. All of these are great and proven designs capable of taking you down the stoutest whitewater you can find. That said, here is my impression of how the Recon stacks up against the competition.


Shane Groves on Real Manns Creek.

At this point, I have paddled the Recon on the New (from -2 feet to 7 feet) and six or so laps on the Russell Fork last fall during the festival/race (around 1100 cfs). The best description of the Recon, using the Jefe/Everest/Burn/Recon as a framework for comparison, is that it has the boofing ability of the Jefe and Stomper (even better in my opinion) with the speed and edgy feel of the Burn/Everest. It is faster than the Burn, and probably on par or a little faster than the Everest, but much easier to control given the increased rocker in the Recon. In rapids like Gettin’ Busy on the Little White, I felt the Everest would lock onto a line and stay there, making a change in direction require a good amount of effort. In contrast, the Recon has the ability to hold a line like the Everest/Burn, but the edges can be disengaged easily, making changing direction much easier using minor bow draws and duffeks in tight, technical rapids.


Bryan Kirk airing it out on The Green River Narrows

The Recon is also great on bigger water as the edges make the boat perform when waves and reactionaries start pushing you around. I was reminded of the of the downsides to the complete displacement hull a couple of months ago when I took a Jefe Grande down the S.F. Yuba (49 to Bridgeport) at healthy flows. In the Jefe, getting surfed left and right by reactionaries was the name of the game, and the complete displacement hull made things a bit more interesting. The Recon is the complete opposite of this. You can have great control over the boat in bigger water, especially if you push the seat back a bit. This allows you to engage the edges, and it behaves a bit more like a playboat rather than a 93-gallon creeker making for great fun in the big, crashing waves. This also relates to great performance when plans go awry, and surfing out of holes is the easiest of any boat I have paddled. Punching holes is also one of the Recon’s greatest strengths due to the rocker profile and stern volume, which combine to carry you through the beefiest of hydraulics. Even with a lame boof stroke, you can make it through some meaty stuff.


John Rugh surfing on the New.

In the outfitting department, the new Core Whiteout Outfitting is the most comfortable I have ever felt in a boat. It feels more performance oriented than LiquidLogic (I always felt like the LL outfitting was a little too “comfortable” and made the connection between the body and boat feel a bit muted), and more enhanced than what you find in a Pyranha. The leg lifter (a third ratchet between your legs that lifts the front of the seat) is really what pulls it all together and sets this outfitting apart. Having the support under your thighs pulls you into the seat, and really establishes a connection between you and the boat. Edging is easier, and your legs aren’t working as hard because you don’t have to push them up into your braces. The outfitting is also a breeze to set up. I recently picked up my 93 and it took about 10 minutes at the take-out to get it all set up. For those interested in really dialing it in, you also have the option of using different sized foam foot blocks that Velcro to the bulkhead, an additional seat pad, and a wide array of other foam pieces to further enhance your connection to the boat. To top it off, adjustments are simple with the supplied allen wrench, and little details like the attached bulkhead adjustment nuts and spring loaded safety bulkhead really complete the package.


Shane Groves paddling mid Supermax on Baileys – a Colorado classic.

To sum up this boat, it is immediately comfortable and confidence inspiring. In my experience, I have always felt there is a period of time when I get a new boat in which I am “getting used” to it and don’t feel as comfortable. This did not happen with the Recon. The first time I got in the Recon was on the Russell Fork at 1100cfs. I had never been on the Russell Fork, and I was in a mad dash following various big name paddlers to get warmed up for the race. I literally stepped out of the truck, put my gear on, moved the bulkhead to allow for my giant legs, added a pad on each side of my hips, and that was it. Ten minutes later I was boofing tower for the first time, and following someone through some other crazy line, completely forgetting I was in a new boat. It just paddled like I had been in it my entire paddling life.

When it comes down to it, all creekers on the market these days are great boats. But, the Recon truly stands above the bunch as one of the most thought out designs I have ever seen or paddled, and it is certainly evident when you get it on the water. As the boating season is nearly upon us, the Recon definitely deserves a look if you are considering a new boat. Now, be safe and get out and shoot them rapids.

Jonathan Ehlinger
Wave Sport Ambassador

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21 Responses to Wave Sport Recon 93 Test Drive

  1. Howard says:

    How was it to roll? People are also talking about it weight. Did you feel that it was heavier to carry around than other boats`?

    • Ian says:

      I’ve been paddling a Recon 83 for a few days on the water in the PNW. Running mid range class 4 stuff mostly. The Recon is heavier than all my friends boats. Like they’ll pick it up to throw it in the truck and comment on it heavier, but its because of more plastic making it stronger, or so I’ve been told. The Recon rolls almost comically easy but never seems to over roll. A strong hip snap and you’re up. It wants to float upright instead of upside down.

      • Personally I’ve never taken issue with a heavy creeker. I’m a believer in Newtons 3 Laws when it comes to powering through holes and sticky drops. I guess that only goes up until a certain point, but the Recon doesn’t seem overly heavy compared to other boats of similar volume (Large Shiva is heavy too). Also, you may come to appreciate it’s quality of construction if you ever get into a situation that could potentially compromise the boats rigidity like a pin or piton.

        • Howard says:

          My concern is portgaging, which can be very tiresome on demanding runs. My Nomad 8.5 gets heavy enough, when you add safety gear ++ in the boat.

  2. Jonathan says:

    I believe has a review comparing the weight to a stomper 90. In terms of “rollability” it is very easy to roll and, as Ian highlighted, it has incredible primary and secondary stability.

  3. AG says:

    Will you guys do a review of the karma?

  4. WyomingPaddler says:

    I’m personally amazed that no one is taking issue with these continually increasing weights for creekboats nowadays. A published (admitted-to) weight of 52 pounds for the Recon 93?!?!?!? These boat weights are becoming absurd. Especially when you consider many of the runs they are being specifically designed for: Upper Cherry (12-mile hike-in), Black Canyon Gunnison, Clark’s Fork Box, Bull Lake Creek, N.Fork Little Wind, South Branch Feather….on and on, where the hike-ins and arduous mandatory portages are all significantly harder the more your boat weighs. The more a boat weighs to begin with, the less gear you can put in it before reaching your personal limit, and the more affected the boat is when paddling it. I’ve read numerous initial comments on the Recons about how heavy they are to move around and carry (men and women both) and when I lifted the 93 at a shop, I was completely blown away how heavy it felt for its relative length and girth. I think kayak companies need to start working on real advancements in building LIGHTER, strong creek boats. I’d gladly pay $200-$300 more for a modern creek boat that weighed what a cross-linked Y-Boat used to weigh. They were plenty tough, and mine weighed 39 pounds when it was dry. Weighed it many times. The Recon looks awesome, but not if you have to hire an assistant to help you get it to the put-in of some hike-in run and then have him meet you at every portage along the way. Lighten ‘em back up, and they will perform even better.

    • BrownShorts says:

      If you want to start paying $2000 for creek boats, then you can get what you want. A lot of the weight comes from safety features such as the step out pillars, and burley seat. When you take into account R&D for both outfitting and boat, materials, assembly, $1000 is starting to look like a steal. Investing in materials to make a boat that’s just as strong AND lighter, would mean completely revamping molding practices/ molds as well as paying more for materials. Look at companies that rotomold, such as prijon. They can only make a new design once a decade because the molds are so expensive to produce. So you, the consumer, need to decide: which limitations you want your boat producer to give you (low price, strong, light weight, safe, cutting edge design). You can’t have them all, but most companies are giving you EVERYTHING except the light weight. My advice? Hit the gym and fix those noodle arms.

      P.S. On your cross linked example, not only are you paying more, but you’re giving up the ability to weld your boat.

      • Thanks for the comments Brown!

      • KSC says:

        I was searching for something else and stumbled upon this old discussion. I agree completely with WyomingPaddler. Another factor is flying a boat, which generally has a 50 lbs weight limit.

        $2k for a boat would be a steal if you could get it to last for more than a season. A 10 year turn around on new designs is not a bad compromise either. The Nomad is still as good as any other design out there and it’s been around for well over 10 years now. Also ironic that you chose the Recon as an example given that it’s probably been near a decade between the Habitat and Recon.

        Strength and lighter weight is exactly what the innovations need to be right now to satisfy a true creek boater. Unfortunately innovations are largely built around marketing the boat on the showroom floor, and why wouldn’t it be – that’s what sells the most boats.

  5. Hal says:

    How big are your legs? Length? Girth? Do you shave your legs?

  6. nonredneckfromthenorth says:

    Cross link? Seriously?? That’s funny! It’s 50 lb’s wyoming, put up or shut up, christ!

  7. Jonathan says:

    I am debating between the Recon 83 and 93. I weigh about 197 pounds and currently paddle the diesel 80 and habitat 80. Would you lean more towards the 93 or the 83? I would consider myself an aspiring creek boater, running mostly class 4 stuff at this point. However, I want a boat that will help get me to that class 5 level. Thanks.

  8. Chris says:

    What is your favorate creek boat?

    • I am not much of a creeker these days – haven’t really been on steep creeks regularly since the days of the Wave Sport Y.
      I’ve logged the most time in on the Liquid Logic Stomper, and because of that I would say that it is my favorite. I’ve paddled, the Jackson Karma L – that was too much boat for me. I don’t run anything steep or big enough where I would need over 100 gallons (even at 205 lbs). I also paddled the Burn a lot, and liked it, but I really dig the extra 10 gallons of volume for a heavy guy like me. Class III and IV pour overs and semi big features are super fun in the Stomper.

      I love the Liquid Logic outfitting too…I am a simpleton when it comes to adjusting outfitting. I like to take 5 minutes to adjust it when the boat is new (or a demo) and then not mess with it again…

      So for me – LL Stomper….but like I said, that is coming from a weekend warrior who paddles mostly class III and IV – not core creeking.

  9. Jeff says:

    Where do you like the seat position in the recon? I just picked up a 93.

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