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This weekend was awesome for so many people in the Southeast USA, because the water is the highest it has been in most areas since April of 2007! We chose to hit Little River Canyon at 1,700 cfs. Clay, Stephen, Billy, Dane, Ruth, Johnny and Mike Shales, and myself put on at the falls and headed down. I had never seen the falls before, and have only once run the river this high, back in 1986 in a slalom boat. The falls was and incredible gathering of boaters from Georgia, TN, Alabama, and Arkansas. At least 50 boaters were running, considering running, or watching as people ran the left side (10’ into 20’ drop).

I had two brand new Heroes ready to take their virgin runs. My first Hero experience was to slide in above the falls, ferry about 10’ and then turn down into the current and run a drop I have never run before. The Fun hull (stretched out), felt like home to me, and the volume and rocker gave me confidence on the boof and staying onto of the water. My run went as good as it can go, and I was grinning ear to ear with my new boat!

We ran the river, running all of the rapids, switching out so everyone got to try the two Heroes. It was a great first run and everyone was so psyched! (review in a moment)

Today we came back home to Rock Island at 3,700 cfs and started with the seal launch at the top to see how “soft” it lands. I did three different ones and three different landings. Some rolls, ferries and then down to some sweet surfing waves. This was really my first chance at surfing and it was UNREAL! It is amazing to me that a boat that looks like a river runner or a creek boat on the deck while paddling it, can carve up a wave like a playboat! (sorry- review in a moment)

Nick and I headed from the waves into the main hole to see how that would go. We tried to play it, doing ends, loops, back loops, surfing, spinning, etc.. Finally it was Brave Wave for some HUGE loops.

OK, we have now done some straight up river running, some surfing, playing, and some creeking in the new Hero. Here is my straight up assessment of what this boat is and who should have one.

1. Comfort- If you find a new Rocker comfortable, you’ll find the Hero comfortable. Lots of footroom, great thigh pads and thigh area, seat is super comfy with the new Sweet Cheeks, and the bulkhead is angled for great foot placement. Backband feels like you know it.

2. Rolling- I believe every boat should roll easily and that is a given for any boat with the Jackson name on it. The Hero will be one of the Heroes of pool sessions this spring, I believe.

3. Speed- at 7’6” long, the boat is like a speedy Fun. The speed when surfing is awesome, and the straight up paddling speed is more than sufficient to keep me happy.

4. Easy to paddle?- Catching eddies, ferries, peel outs where you forget to lean downstream, oh yea, don’t stress, easy is a great description of the paddling character.

5. High end performance?- Creeking- I feel that most people will find this thing to be their choice for day trips on creeks of all types. Whether it is the North fork of the Payette, or the Green Narrows, or something steep in Mexico, it inspires confidence and is built tough and safe. River running and playing- don’t think you can learn to cartwheel in this boat. Not a playboat in that way. For surfing waves and being confident surfing holes, this boat rocks.

6. Weight range- think of the Hero as in between the Rocker and Punk Rocker, and the Super Hero between the Rocker and the Mega Rocker. For me that says it all- if you aren’t familiar enough with the Rockers- email me.

Think sporty, tough, easy, and go anywhere. Transfer from playboat to hero in a heartbeat and not miss a beat. Colorado, look out this thing has your name on it. Alps in Europe? OH yea, another great spot. North West USA- big water AWESOME!

Downside of this boat? We still have to tweak the composite beam shape, walls, and seat brackets to assure the exact hull shape we want for maximum performance, but that shouldn’t affect your boat- we’ll do that next week !

Also it isn’t long enough in the stern to put a two piece breakdown paddle, need a three or four piece to fit.