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By Kat Levitt

The Villain: A Woman’s Perspective

I got my first glimpse of the Villain S last week, and I thought to myself, " looks sweet, but I hope its not too big for me."

To clarify, I’m a small to average sized female { about 120 lbs}. I paddle lots of class III to IV+ and some class V too. Over the past 12 years, I’ve paddled several different creek boats, and occasionally, I paddle a long boat. I really enjoy playboating, and I look for certain things in a creeker…stability is key. I also like speed since I enjoy rallying into drops one after the next on the creeks I know well. So here’s my take on the Villain S:

As soon as I sat in it, I knew I would paddle it. The width and knee height felt good, my feet were at a comfortable angle, and my elbows and arms weren’t crowded by a huge cockpit. The bow felt a bit long, but that became a non-issue as soon as I launched into the water. It didn’t feel like I expected at all!

The first few strokes I made were used to ferry across moderate current and I couldn’t believe how effortless the Villain held an angle. It simply wanted to do what I had in mind. It carves across eddylines and through crosscurrents with a vengeance. It punches holes as well as it boofs, and it is initially very stable..yet not too wide. I am simply astonished that this boat does everything well that it does. It combines the best features of several creekboats I have paddled into one perfect package!

Paddling downstream, the Villain tracks well when I charge, yet is not overly difficult to correct either. I could easily make any necessary adjustments with a combination of carving and draws. It doesn’t paddle like a boat over 8 feel long until you need it to. Many women are intimidated by longer creek boats, I know I was. But there are definite advantages to the extra length, and with the Villain S, I don’t feel like I’m paying the price of ‘hard to handle’ and ‘impossible to turn’ for ‘punches holes like a freight train’ and ‘bridges gaps.’ I also don’t feel swallowed by the volume, yet its adequate for bigger paddlers too.

I ran (Baby Falls) a 12+ foot drop a few times and tried various things. It was easy to create speed, hold my angle, and wait for that last big stroke at the lip to stomp that big boof on the spout…but I also tried melting the crease with an early stroke. I found it easy to recover forward from a bad boof/line and land in control still heading downstream. When things are going right in the Villain, you will catch big air and have plenty of downstream momentum. When things go wrong, you will be glad you are in it too.

The Villain made me feel solid…safe…and fast. I loved it, and I know many other paddlers will too. If you are looking to paddle the most high performance creeker on the market, get a Villain. You won’t be disappointed. I believe long boaters as well as playboaters will find the Villain enjoyable to paddle. It doesn’t replace the Rocker (the easiest boat to boof ever!) or the Hero (the playful creeker that can be corrected no matter where you’re headed)…its like apples and oranges…but the Villain is the most high performance creeker that I have seen. Athletes racing creeks, running laps, and doing expeditions on the big ‘n steep now have what they want. Aggressive paddlers looking to start stepping it up can learn it right in the Villain. And anyone who’s looking for that smooth fast ‘easy does it’ river runner will find this boat a blast to paddle. Its awesome! I can’t wait for mine because I already feel more confident about spring creeking!

-Kat Levitt

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