Wavesport Project X 56 review (long)
Quick background on me: I'm 6', 150#, 32 inseam with 10.5 street shoes (11 booties). Iâve been boating for three years. Iâve owned a Project 52 for 18 months which was my first and only playboat. I've demoed the Biscuit 55 and 2007 Allstar. I'm not a great playboater, but enjoy working at it and think it helps my river running and creeking, which I started into last spring. I can get an end or two of cartwheels in a wave/hole, but not flat water. I can't loop. If my Project 52 hadn't been so painful on my feet I may have actually tried it so I'll see about that in the new boat. I can spin easily and feel mostly in control on waves/holes, but am always working on it. I enjoy running class 3-4(5) in my Project 52 like the Lower Yough, both Upper and Lower Gauley, New River Gorge etc, Ottawa or high water Potomac. I feel comfortable running things in a playboat.
I received my Project X 56 last Friday. I spent a quick and easy twenty minutes filling and moving the hip pad pockets, moving thigh braces back, moving the seat forward and adjusting the back band. I love that the hardware Wavesport uses is so robust and the setup is dead simple. I have a creek boat from another manufacturer which I love, but the hardware on the boat is so cheap and easily stripped. The bolt on that manufactures creekers foot pod actually arrived new from the shop stripped, so am guessing it's not just me. The nuts, bolts, and materials that go into a Wavesport are solid as is the feel of the thigh braces in a Wavesport; which I'm partial to.
At first I thought the new whiteout outfitting was sorta gimmicky, but it is supple, soft and cushy. Feels a bit like faux leather, not plastic-y and has plenty of foam backing the smooth cover. It's not too slippery and not too grabby. It stays dry which is supposed to make it lighter too. Though I am worried about the whiteout outfitting turning into a "brownout" after tracking some local clay/mud into the boat; time will tell and it's whiteness is just cosmetic in any case. Mabye they could make different colors?
After the first paddle I built a more permanent foot block out of the provided foam to be sure of the size. Measure twice, cut once when it comes to foot blocks. Or rather cut dozens of times, but very small amounts. Either way works. This brings me to a big reason I upgraded. Fit. My Project 52 was too dang small for me. I tried everything for foot support and many bootie/non bootie combinations, Happy feet, every combination of foam imaginable, but I just never fit. The foot height/width (even for my narrow feet) was just never enough to be comfy. Usually I didn't use any foot block which always caused some loss of control. The new Project X 56 fits me. It's just a little wider/deeper where my feet land. I'm low on the weight range, but as far as foot room goes this boat is like upgrading from economy class to at least United Plus and possibly even business class. It's still a playboat and will never fit first class like my creek boat, which I wear sneakers in, but I now can build a foot block that supports my feet and doesn't cause pain at the same time. This is an awesome feeling!
Since nothing was really "in" locally for the inaugural paddle I simple headed to a familiar smallish park and play wave/hole that was well below it's ideal level. After a 100 foot boat sledding to the water over snow and ice a backwards splash into the Potomac welcomed me and my new boat. On the water the Project X was a big surprise; mostly because I've not been in the latest, modern playboats. The P52 was five plus years old and things have changed. Flipping in the hole caused me to be "ejected" from it, dramatically. This is what they call pop! My play boating is going to get interesting this year! The noticeably shorted boat didn't feel unstable to me, but did feel more corkish in the hole like it wanted to settle in for the long haul. I'm use to a narrower boat that is easier to edge and carve out of holes with. So the width more than anything will take some getting use to. I front surfed a bunch of little features this weekend trying to get a feel for the edges and how to use them. Once I'm more familiar to the width it should be no different than the old boat. The secondary stability does seem soft though I tend to get my first and second stability senses mixed up. I think the high, straight side walls, affording me all that great knee and foot room, probably make it less stable once far over on edge. Correct me if I'm wrong on that though. I spent some time in some very boily, pushy current and it had me working much harder than usual. So, running rivers will take some getting use to, but I simply cannot wait to get back to the Ottawa, try out the Dries, or even center chute on the Potomac to reinvent and advance my play boating skills! Nor can I wait to spend a long leisure day on the Lower Yough and not feel I have to get out and stretch (which I never do anyway, but definitely pay the price for later).
These are just some thoughts on my new purchase; hopefully there useful to someone.