I had the pleasure to take out one of Riot’s latest offerings last night, the day after they arrived in the UK. Here’s my take on the INFERNO.

As soon as I looked at the INFERNO I knew it was gonna go… I wasn’t expecting huge things, all I wanted was better than my DISCO. First thing you can’t help but notice is the outfitting. It’s very well done. Adjustable height on the backband and ratchet between your legs is ideal. The thigh hookers looked, well, interesting, but I was prepared to reserve judgement. The boat its self is styled very well. The edges look very well thought out and the softness of the fore and aft rails look to give huge forgiveness yet still give the ability to drive the boat. The plastic seems very nice indeed. Well polished moulds and good rigidity give the boat the good looks and great plastic we’re all expecting these days.

So I took the boat out. Getting in was strange. The first thing I noticed was intense comfort. The thigh hookers carress your leg into the right place and mould to any position you care to sit in. I did not have foam down the end, but I had plenty of room for my size 10(UK) plates… irrespective of this I felt held in by very good hookers, backband and hip blocks, which are simple and effective and can be adjusted very easily (velcro-tastic). My riot size deck AND my keyhole both fit easily.

On the flat the boat felt a little short to begin with on account of the rapid cutaway on the hull deck. However, I immediately noticed that the tips were out of the water (not a luxury I am afforded in the DISCO). Flatwheeling IS harder than in my DISCO but, then, the INFERNO is lighter, has 7USGallons more volume and fatter tips. It bow stalls, for sure!

OK, so this boat is NOT a flat water specific tub – it’s a whitewater boat. Down onto the HPP Inlet Gate, set up for a front surf. First thing I noticed was the speed. This baby is faster and looser than my Disco (which I still maintain is faster and looser than the AIR for me). It wanted to go straight into carving. I slowed her down and got into a sidesurf. This is where the soft part of the edges come into their own. The boat wanted to glide round into a carve again, with none of that juddery trippy feeling of the air. Sweet. So then, I got the boat stopped and started to bounce. Wow. The INFERNO does that TOO!!! I carved, bounced and spun my way to the top of the pile and… oops! Caught out by the speed I went hurtling into the green and untold speeds, so instead of looping I crashed and burned. Oh well – a better paddler or me on a better day might have controlled the speed. I did see an Air paddler hit the loop on this wave and it was HUGE!

I carried on down the course and went to see how it coped with eddys, eddy fences and all that jazz. The thigh hookers AGAIN came into play as they allow you to squeez and pry the boat into the smallest of eddys and through the craziest of boilies. I felt more stable in this WITHOUT leaning my 14 stones over the bow than I do in my DISCO (which I happily run grade 3/4(/5) in). Messing around on an eddy one realises how much POP the boat has. I turned a plough across the fence into a HUGE arial pop-out and air-wheel. NICE!

In all, the boat is HUGE fun, very forgiving, great volume distibution and a doddle to paddle. If you’ve never tried a Riot design before. Give this one a demo. I think anyone will agree that the outfitting and all-rounder performance is Da Bomb!

If at 54USG the INFERNO (presumably a replacement for the AIR (55&60) is too tubby, try the ORBIT. This thing will surely replace the AIR(45). If the INFERNO is a little small/tight/not right for you – go for the NITRO. Big brother to the TURBO, this thing shreds the river up.

Matt Deaves (Brunch Media)