Let's face it: half-slice kayaks have taken over the sport of whitewater kayaking in recent years. And for good reason: half-slice kayaks are just more fun.
If you feel like you've progressed to the point where your backyard run is no longer challenging, running it with a half-slice can push you out of your comfort zone and encourage playfulness and speed on runs that typically feel like snoozers.
There are several options out there for a solid half-slice boat. The Liquidlogic Braaap is an older design with a rounded hull. Rounded hull boats are faster but have less primary stability. The Antix 2.0 is the closest to a traditional playboat of all the half-slices, but unless you're Dane Jackson this boat is only good for getting sendy if you feel overly confident on the run.
The Ripper is the fast option. It has that classic hull that Pyranha is famous for. When they squished that stern, it made us all feel like Jessica Fox taking gold in the K1 slalom division down our local class III, accelerating faster and standing it up for a few classy tailies.
Pyranha's Ripper is crisp, has an edge, and is narrow and fast.
The Ripper is a narrow design coming in at 24.5” for the medium. I have found that this allows me to engage the edge effortlessly in order to pivot on the stern. This ability to change direction on a dime helps the boat guide you to eddies on the river you would have never found before.
It has a similar paddling cadence to the RPM, the timeless Dagger boat, but now with the right amount of rocker and volume to make running the stouts enjoyable and not terrifying.
At 9’ long, it has the waterline similar to the Pyranha’s revolutionary 9' race boat, the 9R. The length ensures its speed is not compromised while making a fun-focused design. The slalom feel comes out very vividly when it gets up to speed. It only takes a few strokes to get this boat going, and once up there the planing hull jumps into action – keeping you on top of the boils and skipping out of drops.
There is no better feeling than a juicy boof onto a boily pool where you find yourself skipping out and grinning.
The Ripper makes this happen for you even off the smallest of features. It is a great boat for taking down rocky creeks.
The fairly aggressive bow rocker keeps it riding high and dry through waves and over holes, but not so much that you lose the ability to charge through features if needed. If you have to dive the bow, it will go down and get you through the hole safely without backendering.
It is a comforting to have a boat takes only a few paddle strokes to get up to speed and have you planing over features with a dry bow and face. You can also feel confident plugging through the holes with ease.
But is it easy to stand up on the tail? YES. I found that this boat is easier than the Braaap and Rewind.
Whenever I get in a new half-slice, I try to find the sweet spot where I can stand up and pivot. They're all different for different makes and models - the Ripper has a slow engagement; It is quick to get on edge, slow to slide underneath the water and below you, and then pivots beautifully.
This boat feels very flowy which is what I personally am always seeking when playing on the water. It pivots in a circle better than any of the other boats I tried. It scoops the water just right to spin on that eddy line endlessly.
The combination of the lightning fast edges, 9' waterline, and planing hull make Pyranha's Ripper whitewater kayak the ideal downriver playboat from my perspective. You go fast, get where you want to be, and don’t lose your ability to stay high, dry, and skip out of drops.
The Ripper is a showcase of all Pyranha has to offer. Their slalom roots and stout paddling team have come together to make a boat that will allow you to step up your game on any river in your comfort zone or pushing slightly out of it. You will find new lines, eddies and squirts each day, even on your local run that you’ve been down a ton of times.
Photos courtesy of Bren Orton, rider for Pyranha.