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Submitted: 02-13-2008 by jeremy
This is an update of my 1/11/2008 review for the Innova Safari with a little more surfing capability detail:
This boat is extremely fun to front surf (that is, stuff your bow down into a hole) because the bow will sink and the water will flow all around you. The fun is amplified because you can actually maintain control under these conditions very easily by using your paddle as a rudder. very fun! The challenge is on though when you turn the boat sideways in the hole (after submerging the bow) as the whole boat will tend to fill and submerge like a submarine into the hole. The first few times that this happens to you, you will undoubtedly flip, even if you are used to surfing hardshells because the water interactions with the boat will be foreign to you. However, if you keep with it, you will find that this boat side surfs well and with a little j-lean downstream it will not fill up, but you have to get the angle right or the upstream wash will grab the downstream tube and you will fill and flip (or submarine surf, if you're experienced enough for it). The real enjoyment comes when you can control the boat completely submerged sideways in a hole (submarine surf). To do this, the proper angle and boat fill technique has to be learned by experience and it is easiest to do in a wide, consistent shelf-drop type hole. The drawback is that in a really sticky hole, you will probably not have the strength after surfing submerged (the boat will be heavy and will want to remain submerged due to slower bailing) to rotate the boat out of the hole. So, when you are pooped from sub-surfing, simply roll out of the boat, swim out of the hole, and reclaim your boat which will be upside down recirculating in the hole (and dumped for you, ready to flip over and re-enter). This boat offers an amazing array of surfing ability as it can surf the smallest ripple or a sticky, deep hole (with LOTS of experience surfing the smaller ripples and holes as a prerequisite!). And, if the hole is powerful enough, you can choose to side-surf either above the water line or submerged. One reviewer commented that a 360 surf was possible, maybe so, but I would think it would be VERY difficult to do without submerging the boat involuntarily. Know the hole your with though, because I would think that a really sticky hole may keep your boat stuck on the river bottom (I haven't experienced this, but I can see the potential)! If you like to surf holes and park/play spots, want a real challenge and a boat you will not outgrow, and the bonus of loading it up in your subcompact's trunk, you will not be disappointed. I think beginners with a go-getter attitude can learn very quickly with this boat by starting small (Class I and II) and moving up as experience dictates, so it's not just for experienced paddlers. The boat maneuvers EXACTLY where you want it with ease and many paddlers have been amazed at how well I am able to place the boat EXACTLY where I want it in a rapid or a hole. This is an inflatable that YOU CONTROL instead of the current controlling you. This is an inflatable that you can instantly spin to get into an eddy after a drop, just like a playboat. Unlike a playboat, the fast hull speed actually allows you to ferry and/or paddle upstream with efficiency to get BACK into your favorite hole easily. Many hardshellers will be amazed just watching this boat perform. Just get one and surf away!
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