Hey, I think if you search for it, you can find several threads that have the playboat vs. river runner discussion on them. I'm going to the Grand in Oct and plan to take my playboat. The best advice I got from them is "if you're a playboater and spend most of your time in a playboat, take that. If you spend more time in a river runner, take that." Pro's and Con's to each side, from what I hear.
I just recently watched " Here and Now " and at the end of it, Eric Jackson, and 2 others kayak down the Niagra Gorge in playboats/free running kayaks. SO, I think you'd be fine goin down the Grand in a playboat. Then again, it was friggin EJ...Have FUn and be safe!
Havin kayaked the Grand 3 out of 4 trips, each in a different size boat, (progressively smaller over a 25 year span-hence the different size boats), I would say take the playboat only if you have a strong, bomber roll, because you will be rolling whether on purpose or by accident. Those eddy fences are wicked, but also, when a 20 foot wave breaks in your face, a good roll will get you through. If you had a swim in lesser water this year, you might consider the larger boat as it will be more forgiving of your sins. This advice is all assuming water flows about 8-15,000cfs. 20,000cfs or above can be a different can of worms.
Haven't done the grand, but make sure you have a boat you're comfortable in all day, or raft space available for when you're not. Also a faster boat will be able to get on some waves that a star won't.
I'm taking a Super Star down the Grand in October and I am a horrible playboater, can't roll, hate big water, am 6ft 4 and just switched to a 30 degree paddle. Can't wait! Oh ya, i'm also a beer snob and will only be taking Milwaukee's Best. Bottom line, whatever boat you take, you will have a blast. Atom...
The TL (new boater) had a playboat on our August Grand trip, and we were jealous. Dave and I brought our bigger boats b/c we were asked to run safety. The TL had a decent roll but the eddy lines and diagonals messed with him. We paddled his kayak once he took to the rafts and it was great. Next time I'll take my playboat.
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