Talk me out of a LL Alpha - Page 2 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-06-2019   #11
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,366
I haven't been a full time kayaker for a while but still enjoy checking out designs and stuff.

First thing to note is that the Alpha is designed by the same guy, Pat Keller, that designed the Delta. Second, I watched the "reveal" video they made and was amused that the handle in the rear has a distinct look of a "turbo booster" on it so its keeping at least some stuff from the Delta.

Reading some of the answers to questions that Liquid Logic made in the comments of the video... it sounds like the emphasis for this boat is for both stability and speed.

Before the Tuna came out (with the exception of some Corran designs like the Big Gun and Mafia) most Creekboats were designed to slow down through rapids so you had time to react. Boats like the Nomad, Machno, Jefe, and others. They drop a waterfall, and surface relatively slowly and give you time to gather your thoughts for a few seconds.

The new breed of boats, starting with the Tuna, are all about speed and pushing you forward away from stuff. You gotta be on your toes...but the benefits are that you won't get stuck in holes as often. You'll notice in the videos that most of the boats skip over the landing as you go through rapids especially drops and boofs. They definitely favor a more aggressive approach though and you have to stay on your toes. A lot of the reason why they push through big hydraulics is because the stern is designed to catch a bit of the current and shove you away from stuff. A lot of the boats are prone slight back enders with the bow of the boat pointed up at a pretty steep angle. The Jackson Nirvana seems particularly prone to that. Not really a bad thing and it may look exaggerated in videos but less obvious as you paddle them. I haven't paddled them but its something I've noted in videos.

This aggressive rocker up front with a relatively low volume and low rocker stern seems to be where a lot of designers are going. The new Pyranha 9r2 and now the Alpha, along with a couple of the Waka boats all feature those general design features. I imagine it will mean bulldozing over features a bit better and since the rocker ends near the knees it should pivot easily. With the relatively lower volume stern it almost seems like you can do a quasi slalom style pivot turn with these boats.

The 9r2 seems a bit narrow compared to the others and seems to have an emphasis on edge to edge transfers and "carving" down the river. Sounds tippy to me, but I haven't paddled the boat to really know. I do like the design and would probably consider it for me personally if I was buying a new Creeker.

Alpha seems a bit wider, which points towards their emphasis on stability. Still has a ton of rocker and the low volume stern so it should still be quick and punchy through holes and such. I don't see any controversial or gimmicky additions, so it just looks like a nice solid design that will likely be more attractive to general boaters. It definitely seems like a reaction to what the other companies are doing though.

At the end of the day, its hard to say if a new boat will really make a difference for you. I think its down to your personal paddling style and what you like. As I said before, the new breed of boats seems to reward a more aggressive paddling style and "staying on your toes" so it might take a change in how you paddle to really get the benefits of it. Luckily you can go demo one and see if it feels right for you.

That was probably too long a response...but I can't sleep and I'm bored and sharing my thought process and interpretation of the design differences.

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Old 09-06-2019   #12
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 60
Firstly, loved the delta v comments. So gimmicky, they just made it too easy!

Now on to the real stuff: The new breed of boats is awesome, but a few of them are not to be trifled with in my opinion. Boats like the 9R and Waka Gangsta require a lot of paddler input to be stable. By that, I mean that you have to drive the boat forward in order for them to be stable. This stands in stark contrast to what people have said previously about the older creek boat designs being designed to slow you down. In the newer boats, speed is your friend and can make them feel very stable, but as soon as you slow down, every eddy, pocket and current change feels like its a bigger deal.

I started this season paddling a mamba after not being able to track a newer design down in the used marketplace. I've since moved to a Dagger Phantom for the fall and couldn't be happier. I paddled the original 9R, Waka Tuna (not the tuna II), and took one lap in a Nirvana M. I'm 6' and 175 dry. I paddle class 4 mostly, but have gotten on some class 5's and in looking to do more, the 9R felt too squirrelly unless I was paddling aggressively. Anyone with a slalom background can appreciate a boat like that, but it wasn't for me. The Tuna was sluggish (not as much as my mamba) and I liked the stability, but it wasn't quite it for me either. My experience in the nirvana was positive, but it still just lacked a certain something (maybe playfulness if you can have that in a long boat? not to mention I HATE Jackson outfitting). I was positioned well for a deal on a phantom and feel it's a good balance between the boats of old and the newer designs. It still needs to be paddled leaning forward and appreciates paddler input, but I can still slow it down at the top of a rapid, take in my surroundings, turn on a dime, and then accelerate with just 3 strokes! It feels like a cross between the mamba and the 9r.

From my point of view the alpha is probably going to be somewhere in the realm of the nirvana and phantom. I doubt it will be as racey as the 9R and for all LL has done in the last few years, they consistently make user friendly boats, all gimmicks aside. It is really hard to pick a boat off the internet and get it right the first time, so I'd highly suggest demoing if at all possible! And don't discount other boats like the phantom, nirvana, etc. The waka designs are money, and being in the northwest, you actually have access to them unlike the rest of us. Have fun and boat safe out there. I look forward to hearing what direction you go in!
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Old 09-06-2019   #13
Blade&Shaft's Avatar
Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 305
Originally Posted by Blarneystoner View Post
Come on dude. Really? I asked a gear question. You're gonna tell me: it's not the boat, it's the boater? All these new boats are the same? Both those statements may be fundamentally true... especially the former... but that's neither here, nor there, is it? And you're certainly not contributing any information on this specific thread. Sure, Dane Jackson can paddle a couch down Dinkey Creek, better than I can a Remix down the Clackamas. And I can pound a nail in with a rock... but that doesn't mean a hammer isn't a better tool for the job.

So... thank YOU for contributing. [read: find something better to do than troll mountainbuzz threads]
Haaaahaha. Neat!
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Old 09-12-2019   #14
Washington, Washington, D.C.
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 18
I bought a phantom at the beginning of the season and I dig it. I'm a much bigger fan of Dagger outfitting when compared to my LL Stinger. I just fit in it better. My previous "creeker" was a Axiom 8.5 so maybe I'm a bit biased. I'm also about 30lbs heavier and I'd be worried the Phantom would be too much boat for me if I was 158.
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Old 09-19-2019   #15
NathanH.'s Avatar
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 338
Seems to be plenty of trolling on this one, well earned for the Delta V.

Since you're in Oregon, Axel Hovorka has a prototype here in Bend, OR and can give you a pretty good review of the boat, he's spent most the summer in it. I know I saw a pretty impressive video of the boat skipping over the hole on Lava 1 on the Deschutes.
This mustache has a weight limit!
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Old 09-19-2019   #16
Blade&Shaft's Avatar
Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 305
I mean, he asked us to talk him out of it. Just sayin...
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