I’ve been a little slow on projects that are not directly related to West Side Boat Shop, but I took the Phoenix Match II wildwater kayak out on Labor Day with some paddling friends and reminded myself just how fast and how fun wildwater boats are.
It was the second time I paddled the boat this year. The first time this year was on the Rockfish River near the original homestead of “John Boy Walton,” and this time was a relatively calm, flat section of the Maury River that had just enough rapids to keep it interesting.
If you don’t know what a wildwater kayak is and how they’re used, I encourage you to check out the USAwildwater.com website, the home of the US Wildwater team.
In short, these boats are very tippy and made for racing through Class III-IV rapids. The have narrow, rounded hulls with more volume above the waterline to provide some stability while blasting through large rapids at high speeds.
I’ll soon be selling off this Phoenix Match II in favor of the West Side Boat Shop XR5 wildwater kayak and I hope to get it into some rapids at least one more time with it before it moves on to its next home.
My first foray into the sport happened when I purchased my Cobra Viper kayak and then this Phoenix Match II. I then progressed to paddling them down my local river and then put my whitewater skills to the test in one in the Nelson Downriver Race in 2012 when I did very well with my Viper.
These boats require a highly skilled paddler with great balance skills but are a lot of fun.
I’m not sure why wildwater kayaking is such a small, cult-ish endeavor here in the US compared to Europe, so hopefully more people will learn about it and get into the sport.