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By Clay Wright

October 16, 2006

The Russel Fork’s combination of steep drops, technical boulderfields, enormous undercuts, and mid-volume flow makes it a true Southeastern benchmark of entry level class 5 creeking. It’s a step up from Upper Yough, Watauga, and Cheoah but in a short pool-drop frenzy you can again and again once you’ve mastered the lines. It’s the perfect place to dial in your new creek boat and hone your skills before the rains of winter deluge the Southeast with a season to make up for the last 3 years of drought!

I took a pre-production Mega-Rocker for a spin this weekend, enjoying the fast, ‘dry ride’ of an 8’6” 90 gallon creeker on some lines I know real well. Here’s what I found:

First: I weight 165 and am 5’9”. I sat up on an extra seat padding to give me some ‘elbow room’ and raise my center of gravity (i do this on all my boats, about an inch in the larger ones). Looks like it will handle up to 275 lbs no problem.

Fast – cruising speed is solid but the top-end is just no where in sight . . .the faster you paddle the faster you go. Might try a bigger paddle to take better advantage of this next time.

Nimble – tracks a straight line when under power then carves a tight radius turn when edged into an eddy with little side-slippage. Spins on a dime when driven slow, like a much shorter boat at my weight.

Forgiving – like the Rocker on peel-outs but now nearly impossible to pearl or backender . . the secondary stability is off the hook and the ends stay high and dry.

Fun Factor – pretty darned good for how easy it makes the river! It’s fun to carve up the eddies then find the biggest holes to bust through in the major drops. Did 4 runs in the Mega though my playboat was there too . . .not bad for a full-on creeker!

Boofing – easy to boof, but I found I didn’t need much boof to clear the holes because the bow rides over most of them on it’s own. Cruised across Triple Drop, drove right down the middle at El Horrendo, and didn’t get wet through Climax. Plugged a bit intentionally but just the bow dipped under and then was back on top.

Overall – the Mega brings an ‘old school’ full volume shape to larger people and in a short, fun to drive package. Should be the perfect multi-day boat for people from 150 to 200 lbs. Might even allow those last Corsica’s, Ox’s, Screams, Rockets and Descents the retirement they deserve.

I look forwards to trying it on some bigger, more vertical drops real soon.

Thanks to the Russel Fork crew for the post-river fires, friendship and fun . . .see ya next weekend!


PS: Start your cut from near the rocks on the left above Fist and you’ll have right hand momentum when you need it. The ‘Black Box’ move at Climax is sweet this season.