Yesterday, Dane drove to the factory to pick up the first two finished Villian S boats out of the new Aluminum mold. Molded while we were at NAWF, and the blue on assembled yesterday morning, we still had time to rally to Suck Creek, near Chattanooga for three laps before dark. Finally seeing the boat with graphics, shiny, and ready to sell gave me goosebumps. I got to do the virgin run in the green/white/black one, and Nick in the Blue one. We switched out each lap. We all three versions at the river. Proto 1, proto 2, and the final one, also known as proto 3. David Stephan, team JK from Brazil, was also there to try them for the first time. A local guy, Taylor, joined in after run 1.
In carrying the boat, the carrying straps positions were moved a little closer to the cockpit making it easier to grab and these boats weighed less than the Rockers.
When I first jumped in the eddy at the put-in, I tested initial and final stability, which we amped up over the first proto. Test done, and mission accomplished, this is a stable boat, with a good feel to the edge to edge transfer. The prototypes had welded in cockpit rims and the ergonomics were harder to evaluate. The final Villain feels like ample room for entry/exit, but a nice controllable fit. While the Hero and Rockers I would want to use Sweet Cheeks 200 to lift myself up in it, the Villain S is perfect with Sweet Cheeks 100, so nothing additional needed.
What I was feeling in paddling this boat was a smooth speed that was easy to control, with incredible boofing characteristics, including a fast, dry, controlled runout from the bottom of the drops. Catching eddies is a joy with a nice carve and the momentum carries deep in or back up the eddy, depending on where you are trying to go. The hull is semi-planing offering ample initial stability, but doesn’t seem to be affected by rocks, and has enough “crown” in it to allow you to change boat angles while already up ontop of a rock. Something that is harder to do in a Hero, and other boats with less crown.
I am really fired up on the front view, while sitting in the cockpit. It looks great, and really feels confidence inspiring. The bow is turned up enough to know you have tons of clearance in the manky stuff, but has the shape of a good waterfall plugger too.
I had the guys at the factory make these boats in the Elite Versions, with the composite beam and creek/track installed, as well as cross-link material. These boats felt super solid, popping off of the rocks with little flex, and carrying their speed over the rocks, not getting slowed down by a flexing hull that grabs the rock. The green boat was the best one (these are the first ones out of the mold, before the thicknesses were dialed in) and the blue one was thin in the hull and will never make it into the general population, but will be a pool boat or something like that.
Typical of Nick and I the word Awesome was used alot. Not typical of Clay in a new boat, always looking for the “what’s wrong with this picture” in every testing session, the word Awesome was heard at least once, and this will be the first time I think he was totally fired up in his first run that I know of for any new design, even the 2010 All-Star and 2010 Fun.
OK- enough said on the boat. The larger version will be in house on March 31, next week! We’ll be building them out by April 15th and shipping them. However, we have weeks worth of boats on order already, so you have two options:
1. Go, or call your local dealer and slap down a deposit- telling them, and JK to make sure you get your to the top of the list (pre-sold kayaks have the top priority, over stocking orders)
2. Wait to test for yourself, but that will be at the end of April, likely, and then order yours, which will be in May sometime.
I have mine now, sweet!