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Ecuador is the perfect testing ground for new boats as it is full of variety – from steep creeks to pushy big volume rivers so you can really run the boats through the gamut of different types of whitewater. The crew at Small World Adventures has spent the last week checking out the 2011 Super Hero and trying to answer this question: what are the differences between the new Super Hero and Villain? Don Beveridge has been hard at work trying to suss out the specific qualities and strengths of each boat. He’s paddled steep big volume runs (130 feet per mile with roughly 5,000 cfs), and low volume creeks and here’s what he’s come up with:

I got the opportunity to paddle the brand spanking new 2011 Super Hero for the last few days, and it was awesome. Marty brought one down to Ecuador to test out for the week, and we couldn’t let him take it home…

The first time I got to paddle it was when we ran the lower Papallacta into the Quijos river, and the water was coming up as the day went on. It was a great opportunity to start out on a steep creek, and end up in big, fast water on the main Quijos. The boat is QUICK. The hull feels super fast and loose, and it wants to maneuver. Just looking at it, you can tell it’s a boofing machine, but as a bonus, the nose resurfaces quickly if you do end up sinking it. This model is even more agile and maintains speed better than the older Super Hero. It’s better than it’s predecessor in pushy, powerful water. Crashing through consecutive holes was no problem with the surprisingly fast 2011 Super Hero. In fact, as the day went on, I started drifting into holes slowly or a bit sideways to see how easy it was to get it stuck, and I couldn’t! I eventually had to drop into a BIG ledge at the takeout to take it for a surf, and it was stable in the hole and easy to paddle out.

As the folks at Jackson say, the Super Hero’s loose hull and easy maneuverability will make it easy and fun for beginners, but that loose hull also makes it great for advanced boaters, you can spin on a dime in a rapid, and get up to speed in just one stroke. You have to keep an active blade in the water in big rapids though – If you just float along without paying attention, that loose hull might just try to turn without you.

Especially if you like the way a playboat handles, you’ll like boating the Hero line. We often have guests that playboat a lot, and when they get into a creek boat for harder runs, don’t like the way “conventional” creek boats handle. The Super Hero’s hull feels just like a playboat, with the added advantage of volume and speed. It’s also more fun than other creek boats for surfing waves and holes along the way.

This new line is going to make it tough to choose between a Villain and a Hero. I used to think I needed a Villain for hull speed and punching holes, but the new and faster Hero is great at this. The Villain still probably wins out in terms of holding a line and charging forward, but the Hero turns easier. Once you put a Villain on line, it wants to stay there. Loaded down for an overnight or in big water, the Villain likes to plow through stuff. The Super Hero is always ready to turn. If you’re a playboater or someone that finds creek boats a bit sluggish to steer, the new Hero line is the boat for you. The Villain might still be my choice for big volume runs, but on a low volume creek, it’s going to be hard to beat the Super Hero. It depends on your boating style and on what kind of water you’ll be paddling most. Maybe the answer is now we all need a creek boat quiver of two…

The model we have is a Superlinear, with I think a bit lower seat than the Crosslinked boats come with. If you’re a big guy, this is going to make the boat even more comfy and roomy. Tons of leg and knee room. For me, I felt I was sitting a bit low in the boat, so I put a Sweet Cheeks in and the boat fits and feels just right. At 195, I think I’m just below the target weight range but it was by no means “too much” boat for me to paddle. You could put in a bunch of gear (or put on a bunch of weight!) and still be floating high.

Go test drive a 2011 Super Hero at your nearest Jackson Dealer, or come join Small World Adventures to try it out on Ecuador’s best rivers and creeks.