By Andre Spino-Smith
The Pyranha 9R truly shines in big, powerful whitewater. Anyone who paddles on higher volume rivers knows that hitting lines, catching eddies and generally staying in control requires a deceptively large amount of effort. The Pyranha Kayaks 9R, especially when compared to the Nomad (which I’ve paddled for the last 10+ years) and other boats with round hulls, is uniquely suited for lines which require precise movement through current differentials such as eddylines, diagonal waves, boils, pillows, etc. Creek boats with traditional hulls like the Nomad feel more susceptible to being thrown around by such features. In contrast, when paddled assertively the Pyranha 9R cruises over or through them as if they weren’t even there.
Another surprising attribute of the Pyranha 9R is predictability. I assumed the race-driven design would come along with a couple of quirky handling characteristics. On the contrary I’ve found that it makes the most unpredictable river features – raised eddylines, cross-currents and seams for example – easier to deal with because it just goes straight through them. Never once have I been caught off guard by its relatively aggressive looking design.
The Pyranha 9R’s real magic however is its ability to transfer downward momentum, as in falling off of a drop, into forward momentum. You can check out a great example starting at minute 1:24 of this video: https://vimeo.com/158306180. Acceleration like this is exceptionally fun and will change how you perceive even the most familiar drops.
For the majority of creeks, even difficult ones, the 9R will do great. However, it wouldn’t be my first choice for extremely steep and low volume runs. In my opinion nine feet is on the long side when sharp turns in tight quarters are commonplace. Plus its length and low stern rocker mean that boofing is not automatic. If you absolutely must get your bow up to avoid hitting bottom and there’s no “auto boof” launch pad, I would rather be in something other than the 9R. Keep in mind that I’m describing the type of high consequence boof found only on legitimate class 5 creek runs. The 9R’s lack of anytime, anywhere boof-ability should be of little concern unless you’re pushing the limits.
To summarize, this boat has added a fresh, high performance feel to my time on the water. Any high volume creek boat with tons of rocker will do if your goal is simply to survive. If you aspire to paddle with speed and precision, the 9R is a step in the right direction.
By Andre Spino-Smith