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Take a 2011 Hero and ‘Super-size-it’ and you get a boat just as lively, quick, stable, and nimble ast he2011 Hero – only bigger!

But what about when a 170 lb guy compares one to the other?  That’s the idea here – to compare how differently the 2 boats paddle so middle-weight users can realize they have 2 different choices.

For starters, I’ve paddled the Hero on lots of creeks this winter and grown to LOVE this compact, nimble machine that carries a lot more volume and speed than you would ever guess for a 7’4” boat.  That said, I don’t want to overnight out of it even in California because at my weight (plus a throwbag, hand paddles, camera, and winter safety kit) I’m feeling pretty snug-side of Medium already.   So I thought I would try the 2011 Super-hero and see just how versatile this LARGE little creeker is.  Good call.

Any time I paddle a larger boat for my weight, I add a 200 Sweet Cheeks, in this case ON TOP of the 100 already in my Elite model.  I also crammed 4 hip pad shims into each pad.. now I’m snug and riding high – feeling the boat instead of it’s dimensions.   After several laps on the Cascades I was feeling really confident with my choice – it’s much quicker, probably due to how little draft there is with me in this big boat, and stability is off the hook.  Rolling was still simple, the ends are both still in the water so the tracking was fine, as was boofing and carving.  It’s not giving me anyt trouble at all!

Lapping the Cascades at low water I really appreciated how soft the landings were due to all the foam beans I was sitting on, but also how ‘insulating’ the larger boat lets me feel from the rocks I’m crashing into.   The extra length and width let me take re-connecters and hip-checks without really registering much impact through my body.   On Raven Fork this translated to extra confidence on the big bouncy slides as well as the tight twisting sections you bring the elbow pads for.  The hull is really loose, so there was no problem keeping straight and I started ‘skipping’ out sideways below some slides like a playboat just for kicks.   The edges feel much softer than the 08 models, and while they hold a carve no problem I never once felt nervous when I got sideways on a slide – even when coming in to the hole at the bottom.   The bow stays on the surface like no other boat I’ve paddled and due to my weight I could really feel the landing on my feet as the bow deflected upwards even in deep water..

What, no drawbacks?  OK sure – there are things I don’t like in just about every aspect of my world as a critic and the 2011 Super-hero is no exception.  The knees still feel a bit wider than my 31” inseam would like, it’s not quite as feather-light as the smaller Hero, and with all that flat surface area underneath my butt the semi-flat landings on green water were truly jarring.  While I never felt pain due to the foam beneath me, this larger boat does not land as soft as even the full-size Villain when you boof the heck out of something.  I adapted quickly – taking advantage of the upswept bow to deflect my 60 – 70 degree landings nicely and always boofing into foam when possible .  And I think that’s the only real ‘negative’ to paddling this larger boat that I’ve found.

So what would I pick?  For almost every day-trip without lots of gear I’ll choose the lighter, sportier Hero and be more scared at the big rapids but more entertained everywhere else.  But anytime the water is high, we’re losing daylight and want to go fast, or I just feel like keeping my head dry on hard rapids I’ve got no reservations to choosing the larger Super-hero;  it’s still sporty, still nimble, but adds an extra level of confidence without any drawback to paddling performance.  That is until you get to a 20′ ‘must boof’ rapid.. I think I’ll get some more practice with the Super-hero on smaller waterfalls and really dial in the landings before I take it to  Jones, Spirit, or Big Brother.  That said, Chris Korbulic just rolled a 65′ plus first D in his so with a little practice, anything is possible.  (

Clay Wright


Clay Wright