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Based on the Highly successfull Mafia hull, the Gangster is wider and more stable, slightly longer (but not as long as the Critical Mass), and it has a slightly lower profile deck than the Mafia. This makes the Gangster a highly manouverable boat for hard river running, but still suitable for creeking.
But the Gangster is different from the rest of the Dragorossi line-up in that its ourfitting is "more industry standard". The Gangster is Dragorossi's price point boat - it is to the Dragorossi line what the Mondial is to Ferrari. This is so that we could being to market a kayak that is priced, similarilly to other brands on the market, and also has an outfitting style that looks and feels like the current industry standard. Not that we don't believe in our system, but rather that this boat is designed to get non believers into a Dragorossi. Once you feel the performance of this boat, you'll want to try the rest of the line!
[Attention: the Gangster will only be available in North America]
Quick, basic, and very fun
So I’ve been pretty slack ass lately about boating. With car trouble and just a busy schedule in general I have not been getting in as much paddling time as I would like. With my new additions to the Green river area demo center I was getting antsy to get back on the water. With the big rain in the SE a few weeks back I was happy to wait a day to try the new Gangster though. I wanted to have the comfort of the CM for high water Toxaway.
However the next day I was more then happy to play with the Gangster on the Ravens Fork.
Initial impression was that I like the looks of it. Although as the Sniper looked like you were paddling a bull; the Gangster looks like you’re paddling an alligator. Outfitting and basic setup is pretty basic; easy to use rubber/webbing grab loops on the bow and stern with three small extraction points around the cockpit. Recessed drain plug. It comes standard with a bow and stern center pillars. The seat is mounted on the sides of the cockpit and is adjusted as such. The back band is a low profile padded band, it is held up in the back by bungee’s to the cockpit rim, and tightened by webbing straps that come forward to the thigh braces. Yes, it’s a Corran boat that actually has thigh braces, small but effective. The bulkhead is mounted on aluminum stays and held with four plastic wing nuts. Oh and there is a water bottle holder.
I weigh roughly 185 lbs.; I’m 5’9” and have a 30” inseam with a 33” waist and U.S. size 9 ½ feet.
The first day I got to paddle the Gangster was on flat water. For that it was what I expected. Very easy to roll. Stable both initial and secondary, what I really liked though was the added speed it had over the Mafia. The Gangsters hull was based off the Mafia’s with the exception that the stern rocker comes up a little later and not as aggressive.
For the outfitting I was happy with how I fit. I had to do very little to get in and be comfortable. I added some small foam shims to keep me from shifting side to side and add some padding for rock checking. I had to slide the seat forward a bit to get the trim right. I also added some foam shims to block my knees up into the thigh braces, which come padded from the factory. After paddling a little bit on the river I had wished that I padded out the bulkhead a little bit. I wasn’t comfortable with the angle my feet sat at, my toes were pointed forward more then I prefer. Also I noticed that the back band when tight was wonderful but would loosen due to the cam buckles after a few rapids. Corran has told me that they have changed the cam buckles to a more common ratchet adjustment. The back band gave great access to the stern for storing a watershed big creek bag, which had a camera, small first aid kit, dry layer, some food, and a few other safety provisions. A four-piece break down and or hand paddles would have fit in on the other side just fine. I had to clip my rescue kit to one of the back band bungees due to lack of attachment points (easy solution to fix though) but I had plenty of room to add a large nalgene bottle (water bottle holder only holds a small bottle but works well for your throw rope).
On the water I was even more impressed, being used to the CM, the Gangster sat me well in the water; it seemed to paddle from the stern more so then the Mafia. This felt like it accommodated rudder adjustments well. The bow has the same immediate and aggressive rocker, which was great for getting over rocks or holes with little effort. I dropped into the first big rapid, which is an awkward fading boof of the right wall through a tight gap into or hopefully over a large sticky hole. The boat had no problem keeping the bow over the hole and the extra speed was nice to continue the rest of the rapid.
I was very happy with the Gangster. The little things like the bulkhead angle and back band where minor issues when it came to the performance on the water. This boat was very predictable in it’s handling, different from the Mafia or CM in that it is paddled more from the stern but had more hull speed then the Mafia and is very close to the CM. This boat punched through some pretty large holes on the Green the next day at close to 200%. Much easier to boof then I was expecting. It handled the big slides predictably while being very stable to boot. Just as well it handled the shallow shoals on the run outs quite well. The weight was also a nice change for the hikes out. Sorry I haven’t weighed it yet (not a priority).
I would recommend this boat for anyone interested in river running/creaking or would like a river runner that can handle bigger water. It is not a crossover boat. The Gangster would also make a great boat for a beginner. Being very forgiving and easy to roll. Anyone who would like to try let me know I run the Green river demo center out of Greenville, SC.
other demo centers:
Weight: 83.9 kgs