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CKS Reviews The Pyranha Varun: Big Water Free Runner Fun Machine

CKS Reviews The Pyranha Varun

The Pyranha Varun is a great addition to the free runner category here at CKS. It’s a super solid boat that does lots of things well. It’s lineage comes from the Molan, which means that it has just as many similarities with a high end play boat, as it does with a user friendly free runner. Down river freestyle, river running and fun is the name of the game with this boat. It rolls very easily, has enough volume to run solid class III and IV whitewater, and is really loose and slicey at the play spots.  Advanced paddlers will be able to shred their way down the river, and beginning and intermediate paddlers can surf all day. If you live in the Western USA, you are going to need a play boat that is good at paddling BIG WATER, because things are about to explode this summer. True to Pyranha heritage, The Varun, is a stellar option for this. It has become the “go to” boat for quite a few CKS Staffers, who want one boat for river running and playboating.

Specs:



Pro’s:

    • The Bow and stern are balanced and  slicey enough. Beginning and intermediate kayakers will be able to learn to squirt and initiate double pumps for cartwheels with this boat.  Advanced paddlers can throw ends in holes and in eddylines.  There is enough volume in the knee well of the boat to loop and do most modern tricks. The Demshitz crew can make this boat look like a Molan in any worthwhile feature…After all, this is a free running version of the Molan. We also noticed that the bow stays out of the water when surfing and does not tend to pearl.

      The slicey bow is easy to initiate. It stays out of the water and does not perl when surfing.

Good amount of volume in the knee area for comfort, predictability downriver and aerials.

The stern is slicey, squirts easily and still has some volume for stability.

  • There’s a flat planing hull with an edge. The edge is noticeable but not “trippy” at all.  The Varun carves in and out of eddies with ease and has incredible “run ability”  As far as big water boats go, the large Varun would be great. It’s got the volume that you need to make it though big wave trains and enough hull speed to power through swirlies, and big eddylines, and style “must make” moves. It would obviously be really fun at playing the river too because the hull is very similar to the Molan . It is not an excessively wide boat, which makes it quicker edge, to edge for carving, surfing and freestyle moves like blunts.

    Flat planing hull with a solid edge that is reminiscent of the Molan. It is not excessively wide, which makes it quicker edge to edge for carving and freestyle.

    One more shot of the edge

  • The boat is naturally very comfortable, and easy to outfit…set it and forget it (nothing to inflate every time you paddle). The Connect 30 Outfitting is solid and adjusts without much trouble. The small and medium versions come with a foam block up front, and the large comes with 2 blocks that connect together. A little bit of carving is required. There are shims included with the hips pads that are a breeze to insert, the seat moves back and forth(tough to move but once it is positioned, it will NOT slip), the foam is easy to carve, and the back band has an adjustor that is easy to figure out. As for paddling the boat, things felt natural, and the hull speed was nice. If you are used to paddling a true river runner, you will be pleasantly surprised by the speed of this boat.

    Cut along the scoring lines for a tight fit.

    The backband is easy to adjust, and is bomber. It is the same one that comes with the Burn’s.

    Ratchet for the backband and top of thigh hook. They are easy to adjust and stay where you want them.

    Comfy meat hook that adjusts easily

    The BV whitewater Park is a good proving grounds. Lots of eddies, waves and holes to play in.

    The hull is super loose. The Varun wants to spin and carve on a wave.

    If you like to paddle downriver, surf, spin and carve, the Varun is for you.

  • This is going to be a BIG WATER summer for the west. Instead of getting swallowed up in a play boat going downriver, why not have some hull speed and volume? You can still shred in this thing, but it also will give you more confidence down river.

    Earl’s getting ready for The Number’s at 4500cfs…coming soon to a river near you.

  • How does the Varun compare to the Jackson Fun? The Varun is more on the river running side of things, and the Fun is better for getting vertical and playing. They are both EXCELLENT boats, it just depends on what you are looking for. There’s more hull speed with the Varun, but it is easier to throw down in the Fun’s. If you want something for a dam regulated run like the Ocoee, Pigeon or Nantahala, you may want the Fun. There’s a ton of play on those river’s and the water is predictable. If you live on The Arkansas, Snake, Salmon, Colorado or Poudre and want a play boat that will be good for huge water class III and IV, as well as powerful play park features, the Varun would be ideal.

    Even on a small, beginner wave, the Varun is lots of fun. It loves to carve and surf.

  • The Varun comes in 3 sizes which is nice. I am 6’2″ and just over 200 lbs and fit in the large like a glove. Earl is 5’9″ and 155lbs and fits well in the medium with plent of room left. Kids, women and light paddlers will like the small. If you are going to run the big stuff in the Varun, you could even size up a boat, have some more volume and sit higher out of the water. It would be faster too.

    The medium and large Varun

  • Great colors.

    Curvy, edgy and some attitude. The Varun is cool too.

  • It’s recyclable.

    Recyclable and made in Great Britain. Cool points.

  • Easy to roll.
  • The Varun is just a damn good looking boat. Everything from the colors to the curves on it are sexy.

Con’s:

  • The outfitting is supportive but requires some work to fine tune. It’s not inflatable, and the foam foot blocks in the large boat require some dragon skin and a knife to make comfortable. Overall, it’s a small price to pay for a comfortable day on the river, but it does require more elbow grease then some other brands of outfitting. We also noted that extra outfitting was needed for certain Builds (short legs) in the medium boat. The foot blocks were pretty small.
  • The Varun is not a full on play boat, and it is not good at running class V creeks and rivers. Free runners (Varun, Jackson Fun, Wavesport Fuse, Liquid Logic Freeride) are a bit longer than play boats, and are not as bulbous. Because of this they are better down river, but not as easy to throw around in a hole or wave. If your goal is to learn to loop, and you are going to spend all day in a play park, get The Molan. Also, if you are going stomp steep class V, do not get this boat. The planing hull, squashed low volume ends and play boat heritage will not help you out on hard runs. Get the Burn, which is meant for running hard rapids.

The Verdict:

This is going to be the perfect summer to put Pyranha’s newest free runner to the test. The water is at a medium/low level which is good for getting used to it. Mother nature is about to open her flood gates pretty soon, and it will be cool to ride the crest in the Varun. With it’s predictable ride, good edges and slicey ends, the Varun large will no doubt treat you well in class III/IV big water. The hull is loose enough to surf, spin, cartwheel and squirt all day long. It also has the volume and speed needed to make river running fun.  CKS has all 3 sizes in demo and in retail.  Come sit in one today.

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