I paddled the mafia once on the Upper Yough at about 1,300 cfs (medium-high). I am 5'6'', 160 #'s, previously paddled a Huck, now paddle a medium Burn.
Performance-wise I thought the boat was great. It turned quickly and easily, but didn't spin out once on line. The bow goes up and over almost everything. The stern felt a little wierd because the widest point on the boat is behind the seat, but that also made it feel pretty stable, like you have a pod of volume behind you to lean on if you get in trouble. Can't comment on boofing as this was more of a make-the-move punch the hole level on the Yough. I would imagince the bow rocker and shorter stern would make for an easy boofer. Speed-wise, it's obviously not a blazing fast race boat, but it accelerates well and doesn't bog down at top speed like my old Huck.
Outfititng: I was initially impressed that the boat felt snug and responsive without any additional outfitting. The seat and backband work together to suck you down into the boat and keep you there. However, the cockpit is tiny, I found it hard to get in and out, and I am not a big guy. This turned into a big issue when we got out to scout a drop and I had to put back in from a slippery angled ledge. I need both hands to get myself into the boat, but I needed one hand to keep myself from falling into the river prematurely. I hear that the Mafia now comes with a bow ring instead of a center pillar, which would be an improvement, but the geometry on the cockpit is such that the extra room only helps once you are in the boat. I don't think I could have popped my skirt with my knees if I had to, not an issue in my Burn with its huge cockpit. I would never consider owning the Mafia simply because it was so hard to get in and out of. The gear hatch had positives and negatives. Mine was not completely dry, as advertised. The little skirt was a pain to put on in the cold. Plus, you had to put all your gear in the hatch because there isn't room for anything but a water bottle or a rope in the cockpit. I got tired of not being able to reach into the stern pretty fast. On the plus side, you have a big old permanent float bag in the stern because it is sealed off. The hatch does had a lot of room, and it adds a lot of strength to the boat.
Overall: The boat is a performer, but the outfitting (in my opinion) is too agressive for a creekboat. I want to be able to enter and exit the boat without my hands and to have the option to pop the skirt with my knees if I need to. Check out the Critical Mass if you are concerned about the cockpit issue, that boat is huge.
I like the way mine boats, the hull. Outfitting is not the best but workable if you fit in the cockpit. I added hip and thigh pads. The size of the cockpit is the make or break issue for use as a creeker. I haven't retrofitted to the ring but it sounds like it would help. I am 5'7", 145 with long legs, 32" inseam, mostly femur. Makes me a better cyclist than boater. I have mine trimmed with the seat a little forward and can barely get my knees up past the cockpit rim while seated. Try the fit if you can find one. The foot brace and backband are great. I raised the seat a little so for me rudders while surfing are a reach but I have more elbow clearence.
I am not a hard core steep creeker, more of a class IV boater but like technical slice and dice. Hit five eddies in #5 (a non boater thought I was talking about golf!) is more my style. I wanted to upgrade from my H3 235 and get a better boat to step up to Bailey and Gore. I was feeling more comfortable in my Neckey Mission on harder and/or bigger water. I didn't like the way the bow of the H3 would get blown downstream (hard to control the vertical bow walls) in upstream ferries and the H3 only had 5% more volume than my Mission and the Mission is very stable with the high edges and mamoth rocker and much more playful. The bow profile of the Mafia (slicy sideways and rocker) doesn't get pushed around as much as the H3 but like any big boat it does get pushed around if currents hit the volume and flat sides by the cockpit. It can also flop onto the flat side if you edge it too much(easy to brace back up and rolls easy) but it doesn't need as much edge as a full displcement hull so it boats more like a planing hull. It resurfaces great, shoots the boat straight forward after the drop. The bow doesn't shank off to the side. The volume (72 gal) makes it ride high with the bow rocker lifting over holes unless you want to punch it which it does because the bow profile is not bulbous. It's not as long as advertised, not 7'10" but 7'7" so it is my sized.
Stern rocker = autoboof. The short flat on the bottom and rocker makes it super maneuverable, loose for my weight, and the little edge and volume helps it climb out of holes. Yet with momentum it holds a line well. With the bow rocker, you really need to charge into eddies before it will engage the recirculation, not hit eddies quite so high. The stern isn't really for self support cause you can't move the seat forward to trim it and still get out fast (break out the Rocket). Boatertalk has more reviews. Also see DR and Corrans' websites for more.
Thought I would bump this as DR now makes another couple creekers that should be considered. The Gangsta is a Mafia hull with a little different stern rocker and a big cockpit deck with better looking thigh braces.
The Critical Mass is for bigger boys, but is said to boat like a shorter boat.
I am liking my Mafia more with the bow ring and I like it a lot. They would be worth a try. See the DR web site for demo centers.
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