Wave Destroyer vs Sotar - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-21-2009   #1
 
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Wave Destroyer vs Sotar

Was thinking of selling off my big maravia tubes in favor of some smaller play tubes to go with the new frame. Anybody have good feedback on the wave destroyers & sotar tubes? Besides weight savings what does sotar bring to the table vs aire? I like the urethane fabric they use, but aire will use it on request (+cash). Would love to hear from anybody who has firsthand knowledge, if anybody has good ideas about other brands let'r rip.

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Old 12-21-2009   #2
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Screw urethane. Wave destroyer is the shit. Why amend the fabric? The WD will last 30 years. Just buy it. Now. Do it.
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Old 12-22-2009   #3
 
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A year ago, I owned an AIRE Jaguarundi and an AIRE Ocelot. I had a lot good times on those boats. But, I sold them and bought a 16' Sotar Legend and a 12.5' Sotar Legend. They are sooooo nice. The design, weight, color schemes, are all better than AIRE (IMHO). Sotar offers some other advantages. You can totally customize anything on the boat. I was able to pick the location of my d-rings and handles, the color of every piece of Lexatron (the material used to make Sotars), the l logos, exact length and diameter. I like the fatter tubes of the Legend compared to the Wave Destroyer. Another issue I had with the AIREs was the location of the inner d-rings. They were placed at the same height at the outer d-rings. This made it tough to get the frame on securely since the inner rings were the same height as the inner rails of the frame.

I had the best year of rafting this year - my 20th season, due in large part to my new boats. They are more capable than my AIREs were, giving me more confidence to step it up a notch and run some new/bigger stretches of river. Sotars are plenty tough. I took mine down the Middle Fork Salmon in September at 1.7 feet - that is a good test to a boat's strength, especially the first 25 miles, very boney in there. Sotar will take care of their customers too - their policy seems pretty relaxed and they clearly care about making a quality boat and keeping their customers happy. Of course, AIRE is the industry leader in warranty - can't argue that. I also live about 3-4 miles from AIRE and Maravia (I'm basically right between them). So, even with the convenience of having them so close, I still went with Sotar.

Another reason my next boat will be a Legend and not a Wave Destroyer is that I don't really like the way AIRE "acquired" the design. I don't know the full details or the politics, and I suspect Sotar may have missed an opportunity to have the Legend design exclusively, but it just doesn't seem right to me.

So, having professed my love for Sotar, if you decide to get an AIRE - you won't be disappointed. They are both great boats. The WD is a much better design than the Ocelot was (IMHO). The warranty is a big selling point for AIRE too. I'd own an AIRE or Sotar before I'd get a Maravia. I love Cascade Outfitters (retail store in the Maravia factory) and shop there often enough to be on a first-name basis with the staff - and probably need a second mortgage to keep my shopping habit up - but I've heard too many horror stories about Maravia boats and repair policy. I have heard they are prototyping an elf-shoe design. I also heard a rumor that this prototype was designed by bringing in a Legend and taking direct measurements. hmmm

So, now you have an opinion of someone who has owned both AIRE and Sotar. YMMV
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Old 12-22-2009   #4
 
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Thanks, just the type of response I was looking for. All these boats are great and well crafted. Visited sotars web site and did not see a legend model listed or pictured, is this an option that is added to any model? Does anyone have an idea what a wave destroyer in urethane would cost? I priced a 143R and it was almost 5000 bucks(unreal) I bought a zephyr instead.
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Old 12-22-2009   #5
 
Hood River, Oregon
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I'd definitely second that the SOTAR Legend is the way to go. The Urethane is lighter and plenty durable but it's the design of the tubes that really make this boat. The Legend is now the go-to boat for most Class IV-V cat boaters in Oregon (or at least in the Columbia Gorge).

The SOTAR web site doesn't have any pictures of the Legends. Check out our photos from our local Class IV-V run at Wind River - a set on Flickr. Most of the boats you see are the Legends.

The 14' has been the boat of choice for a long time, but more and more of us are going with the 12.5' boat. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions or help ordering the right thing - there are a lot of cool options witjh SOTARs that most people don't know about.

Good luck!

Zachary Collier
Northwest Rafting Company
(541) 450-9855
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Old 12-22-2009   #6
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But with the Aire boat you can bring a simple repair kit and an extra bladder in a small ammo can. That's quick and easy boat repair...

The Sotar support on here seems pretty convincing too,but I think the designs are similar enough you should realistically expect pretty similar performance. If you're not packing the boat in anywhere I don't think the weight difference should matter much. As for the "who had the design first" argument I don't know what some of these guys around the boat industry know. I do know that Aire spent some cash and time letting Mark Kramer (sp?) help develop this boat while running lots of gnarly shit solo, so I doubt they just copied someone's design. Aire seems to spend a lot of time in R&D and genuinely inventing new concepts. I love my Force play duckie and who can doubt the uniqueness of the Puma series.

So despite what they're doing in Oregon, I still suggest skipping the Urethane and getting a PVC Wave Destroyer, an extra yard of material, and an extra internal bladder. You'll be running it happily for 30 years. By then the boats will be so different you won't want it anymore. As for the eco-unfriendly PVC; you're buying an extremely durable product made of a little bit of it. It's probably not as bad as driving a few miles.

Besides, you can't buy Sotar boats in purple.
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Old 12-22-2009   #7
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P.S. I've only been on one trip with the WD and it was a low water Lodore trip with people who brought it as a low water alternative to their preferred dories. They liked it, but didn't have much handling input - they are accustomed to piloting wood. The boat was one of the original prototypes, however, labeled in sharpie and borrowed from friends in Idaho.
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Old 12-22-2009   #8
 
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Thanks for all the input, you folks are a true resource!
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Old 12-23-2009   #9
 
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AIREs are definitely the winner in ease of repair. However, for me, repairs are so rare that I don't consider it to be a huge factor in my boat purchase decision. Over the last two years, I've witnessed/helped with two on-river repairs - both on the Middle Fork Salmon. The aire was a big tear, but it was good as new in 20 minutes. The other boat was a JPW, similar to the repair duties a Sotar would required. It also took about 20 minutes - but it was in a much easier place to access and only required a small patch. Other than those 2 repairs, I've only personally had to deal with one other patch in 20 years of boating.

I have, however, had to lift countless boats to and from trailers, rivers, ramps, portages, shores, etc. So, for me, weight is a more important feature than ease of repair. I may not be packing my boat miles to a put-in - but simply being able to double stack two sotars on my trailer without help, or getting my boat from my campsite at wilderness gateway to the river's edge, without any help, for a lochsa run comes in more handy that you might imagine. Oh, and when I flipped in Lochsa Falls at 8.5' this year, my reflip was the fastest and easiest I've ever done. There are two reasons for that - my boat is light and my frame is easy to grab onto when I go over.

I remember in 2008 - I was at the lochsa helping a bunch of Sotars unload from a trailer. It was at that moment that I decided it was time to sell my AIREs and get Sotars.

As for the design - you're right - Mark Cramer did work with AIRE through several prototypes to get the current Wave Destroyer design. But guess what he ran before the WD - a Legend. He basically had AIRE help him design a boat "like" the Legend - I believe he received some help from AIRE for heli support and maybe free boats to help him with his triple crown attempts. (I can't remember the names of those rivers...) They will probably handle very similarly in the water, and they are both good boats. The Legend was designed by Ted Day - he ordered boats for people with his design often enough that Sotar eventually just named it the Legend to make orders easier to process. They added it to their price sheet this year, it was previously a special order item. At least - that is my understanding of the history of the Legend - I probably don't know all the details. Their website is lame, but if you download the retail price sheet, the Legends are listed there.

mttodd - my original post made it sound like I'm a total maravia hater. I'm not really. I hope you didn't take that personally. I've just had a friend have a bad experience - but I have several other friends that run maravias that have no problems. I think their raft designs are leading the industry. There is video of some guys R3'ing the NF Payette in a maravia with really high kick at the ends. That boat looks amazing in class V water. I'd own that boat!

I don't know about everyone else, but I'm bored at work and don't have much to do. So, I'm going through my youtube channel to watch a bunch of rafting vids in my favorites - check it out:
YouTube - jmcdannel's Channel
I think the clip of Mark Kramer running Big Falls is there somewhere.
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Old 12-23-2009   #10
 
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jmcdannel,

Agree with you that weight is more often a factor than ease of repair.
Idaho catboating in particular seems to involve more lifting and carrying of boats. All the access points on the NF Payette involve carrying over rough terrain and the Big Falls portage on the SF really favors light boats!
After watching the Mark Cramer video, next time I will just "ghost boat" the falls!

You mention launching from your campsite at Wilderness Gateway.
My memory is the campsites are well above the river and the launch is closer to the highway?
I have C-22 for Memorial Day weekend and it would be great to launch from camp!
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