The Dragorossi 88 is the newest creek boat from the Italian kayak company. On first seeing the 88 I was quite impressed with its overall looks – it simply looks right! So I was very excited to get the boat on onto a number of local grade IV rivers.
When I first sat in the boat on water it felt good. Initial impressions were that it was a good size creek boat without being huge and was stable when edged and turned tightly. The back deck did feel quite high, as I was able to lean back just a little and rest my back against it.
I tried a couple of rolls on the flat water to see whether or not this would prove to be an issue and found that it wasn’t at all. So putting that thought to bed I tried the boat on a little warm up set up I use that interlinks a number of left and right eddies on my local piece of whitewater.
The hull has a good turn of speed and can be driven in/out of eddies with ease. It picks up speed well and holds it. These initial impressions were confirmed when I took the boat further down river and in to a bigger piece of white water.
The 88 like most other creekers isn’t made to be a play machine but I did find that the 88 sits well on a wave and was stable whilst side surfing in a number of friendly stoppers. On finding a less than friendly stopper I found that the 88 was easy to roll, and easily able to pick up enough speed to escape the clutches of the stopper!
The 88 feels very stable, it sits well in the water and really instils a sense of security. The volume is well distributed giving the kayak a balanced feel. The hull has a nice gentle rocker and doesn’t seem to present any nasty surprises, even when on the roughest of water. The 88 is very easy to boof and to land. The hull shape works really well on the landing to help dissipate the forces away from the paddler. This makes the 88 ideal for both river running and creeking and puts it into direct competition with the Dagger Mamba or Zet Raptor.
Length: 259 cm
Width: 65,5 cm
Volume: 315 litres
Weight: 20 kg
I’m always keen on looking at the outfitting of a boat very carefully as it is this that can often ruin the feel of a boat. The outfitting in the 88 is solid. It isn’t revolutionary – it just works. It also means there is very little that could go wrong and doesn’t add a great deal of weight to the boat. Overall I like it and it functioned pretty well. The backrest isn’t the most comfortable I have used but it is easy to adjust thanks to the ratchet system. A piece of plastic helps keep the backband rigid and aids it to stay in place. The plastic both looks and feels like it may be the same plastic used in the boat.
At approximately 20kg, the 88 is pretty light compared to most of other creek boats on the market. However, I did find the edges on the inner of the cockpit on this particular boat quite sharp. I certainly felt this on a long walk in during the first week I had the boat. A quick rub with some fine sand paper should solve this in little to no time.
The seat padding although on the face of it looks very basic does work well and I had no issues with slipping around in the seat or any feeling of coldness being transferred through. The hip pads can be placed exactly where you need them with the help of the strap/Velcro system. Shims can also be added to help customize the fit.
Safety wise the 88 is fitted with a total of four grab handles. One is located at the bow, another at the stern and the remaining two just behind the cockpit. They feel comfortable with a good solid feel. There is also a broach bar on the front deck, which is big enough to clip a karabiner into. A good full plate footrest system is provided, which has a good range of adjustment to accommodate paddlers of different heights. A couple of thumb screws hold the footrest bars in place and are easy to remove/re-install.
Just in front of the seat is a large storage area that is perfect for even the largest of throw line or even a Pelicase as demonstrated by my Peli 1120, which slotted in nicely.
Over all the Dragorossi 88 is a fine boat that sits in a quite overcrowded market and could be overlooked. I would say that if you are looking for a river runner with creek potential or a creek boat that is also good at river running then the 88 is definitely worth looking at. It is a stable boat that can be pushed and always managed to deliver a smile.
In Action Images: Martyn Butler, Paddler: Phil Mitchell.