matty's tasmanian adventures - index
Perception Wavehopper kayak
Plastic down river racer training kayak
I first found a Wavehopper in the Snowgum (outdoor equipment) shop in Hobart in 1994. It cost $1000 and I thought it look really interesting. I liked the idea of a plastic DR boat because I always seem to hit a few rocks when I am trying to pick my way through the rapids.
I kept a close eye on the Wavehopper in Snowgum for a few months as it gathered dust and I realised that they couldn't be very popular. I couldn't really justify buying one until I heard about the Winter Challenge race in Tasmania that involved a paddle leg down the Tyenna River. Whenever I had seen the Tyenna River I could always see more rock than water and it seemed very shallow.
With one week to go before the race I lashed out and bought it. When I took it out for its first run it felt a little tippy when sitting still and quite fast when I was moving. I took it to surf ski training during that week and found out that it was a fair bit slower than a surf ski and took a bit of concentration to keep straight when I was on someone's wake.
The day before the race I heard that the team I was going to paddle for had pulled out so I just decided to turn up and paddle or maybe fill in if someone needed a paddler. Later that night (at 3am on race day) my flat mate came home with his girlfriend after a party and had a domestic and I ended up peace-keeping for the U.N. for a couple of hours and by the end of that the last thing I felt like doing was racing. I slept until midday and when I woke up the race was over anyway.
So I ended up with a kayak that I couldn't find a use for - until 6 months later when the dates for the Cradle to Coast were announced. I found the Wavehopper very useful for practicing paddling down the day 2 paddle leg from Meadowbank Dam to New Norfolk (49km of grade 1 & 2 stuff). I could bounce off rocks to my hearts content and have a play in the waves as well.
It was really manoeuvrable and comfortable enough to stay in for 4-5 hours. I could have used it on the race day but I knew that other people would be using kayaks that were lighter and faster. I ended up finding the ideal kayak for that particular course - The Grafton Paddle Sports - Wizard.
I have taken the Wavehopper out in the surf a few times in surf and had a bit of fun. I have found it's best use as a training boat. It is similar to the Wizard in 'tippiness' but at 4m long and 18 kg it is shorter and heavier = slower - making it ideal for training or racing in low water because it is bomb proof.
The Perception Wavehopper - great for training or racing down a rocky river.