How does the Dragorossi, Madboy handle as a creeker? I have gotten this question asked of me many times over the last year and a half to two years that I have been paddling it. For me I absolutely love it as my creek boat. I feel that finally a company made a class V slalom boat. By that I mean very edgy compared to the modern standard of creek boats, a longer stern for sweeping around in quick tight S-turn style moves, but still have the volume that I need to float me safely in a class V creek setting. I understand that this is not most people’s preference when it comes to choosing a creek boat and because of that I try not to recommend it as such to beginning creek boaters. However for those of you that have some years of experience in a slalom boat and like the creeks or you are just a solid kayaker (or I suppose C1er) that is looking to make their home creek a little more playful the Madboy may be the boat for you. Disclaimer: playful: turning your creeks eddies into slalom gates, rockspins/wheels, freewheels, and big hole fun. This is not a playboat by any means.
I have had the advantage of having the Green River Narrows in my back yard for quite some time now. I know I will be contested for saying this, however the Narrows is one of the best “downriver play” rivers around. There are multiple high quality rockspins as well as two great freewheels. That does not include all the eddies there are to catch along the way and the couple descent waves to soul surf on. The edges are sharp at the ends of the bow and stern yet quite soft just in front of center. This allows paddlers to drive the boat into carves by leaning forward and engaging the edge. Having the edges soft just in front of center (where most of the paddlers weight is located) is what gives the Madboy its great initial and secondary stability. This transition from hard to soft edges allows for a smooth transition from the hard carve to charging downstream or just sitting in the eddy. The edges also allow for very playful soul surfing sessions from your small creek waves to your large volume river waves. The low sweeping progressive rocker helps give the Madboy its speed as well as its ability to boof and sweep over most holes. Keeping a larger volume bow with quick upturned bow help with getting over funny boily water as well as allowing it to surface smoothly and quickly. My personal favorite is how long and slicey the stern is. The stern really allows for sweeping pivot turns and squirting out of wave holes (if that’s your kind of thing). The length of the stern also allows for it’s ability to maintain its volume distribution for and aft.
Where the Madboy really excels is its ability to maintain speed and agility while running hard rapids. Do you like to catch a lot of eddies on the fly? Do you like to make a lot of S-turn moves? Do you like a boat that really helps you to use the rivers own features to enhance your own experience?
I would have loved to be able to have competed this year in the Green River Narrows giant slalom race to see how it would have compared. Fortunately I have been in California for almost a month testing it out on some bigger water as well as some multi day trips. The bigger water South Yuba and “Golden Gate” section of the South Fork of the American was not a problem at all. Punching large holes, grabbing diagonals and riding across them, crossing boily eddy lines, and large wave trains where par for both rivers. After getting a taste of some of the better day runs around it was time to really put the Madboy to the test. Loading her down for three days and two nights on the Royal Gorge of the North Fork of the American was the first time I had paddled the Madboy with weight other then that of myself and gear as well as my first aid drybag (Watershed, Ocoee). I weigh in at about 180 lbs. and had maybe 13-15 pounds of gear. I carried two Watershed, Ocoee duffels and one Futa float. One Ocoee contained my small camera, first aid kit, and food and snacks for the day (lunches included). The other contained my small cook pot with dinners (a combination of rice, ramen, and bratwursts), a spare set of clothes for camp, sunglasses, and my pen and journal. My Futa float had my 32-degree down sleeping bag, a lightweight nylon hammock and tarp, Thermarest, Neyolite sleeping pad, and a rain jacket for camp. As well as my three bags I carried a 1.5-liter water bottle, and a pair of Waldies for camp. I stowed the Futa on one side of my stern pillar and the lighter of the two Ocoee’s and my Waldies went into the other side. My water bottle went behind my seat and the heavier Ocoee I carried between my legs clipped to the center pillar in a way that it would fall out of the way incase of a swim.
I noticed the weight immediately. It made the boat a little slower and a little more edgy. Knowing I would be dealing with some bigger holes My aim was to keep as much weight close to the seat as possible as not to shift the for and aft balance of the boat. I honestly can’t say that the Madboy did not get the job done or that it was hard to get it done. That being said I sure wouldn’t have turned down the size of the Critical Mass if I had one to use. So far I have paddled the loaded Madboy for the three-day trip on the Royal, a two-day trip on Dinkey Creek, and another three-day trip down “Fantasy Falls” of the North Fork of the Mokelumne River. Admittedly hard committing runs, I would start to feel the edges more and more by the end of the third day but only in the sense that I was too tired to transition back off the edge and would be catching eddies I wasn’t planning on. I never got the random caught an edge and go over problems of some edgier boats. I still found the boat very agile while moving downstream but would feel the weight when I needed to accelerate quickly. Boofing still remained easy. The weight definitely did come in handy when charging downstream knowing that I had to break through that giant hole I was paddling towards. It may have been harder to get up to speed but once I was there the speed stayed and carried through features.
I still love the Madboy and would fully recommend it to the advanced creek boater who is of a similar build and doesn’t overnight on a regular basis. Although it works, when you are two days out in a class V gorge the size and ease of the Critical Mass make it the boat I would choose if I had the choice. Personally I just wish they made a larger version of the Madboy.