CKS Squad Member Spencer Huff reviews the Pyranha 9R
As kayaking continues to progress and push new limits, new kayak designs must evolve to ensure they are up to the task. Up until recently most creek boat designs have been quite similar, wide rounded hulls with big bows and with continuous rocker. This makes them easy to paddle, while also providing paddler's with both comfort and stability. The wide rounded hull made the kayak stable and forgiving, while the extra volume and rocker kept the boat high and dry. (I am talking of boats such as the Dagger Nomad, Liquid Logic Stomper, Pyranha Shiva, Jackson Karma, etc.) There is nothing wrong with these designs, but they do limit the amount of technical control that the paddler will have on the water. In the last five or so years creek boats with flatter hulls, sharper edges and more subtle rocker emerged onto the market. While these designs might be ‘harder’ to paddle, the edges allow the paddler to use white water features in more specialized ways. The flatter hull with less overall rocker allowed for more speed to be carried and more efficient push off of features. Hence their break into the racing scene and the dub of ‘Performance Kayaks.’ The Jackson Zen is very solid example of this style. These kayaks seemed cool, but never really caught my attention, not enough for me to consider switching from my Dagger Nomad 8.5. Then, I saw the Pyranha 9R. Before I even sat in one, the design immediately caught my attention.
You can see that is has all the goods of a performance boat; flat hull and rocker in the bow. However, there are a few very unique characteristics of the boat that really cause it stand alone. First, the added bit of width behind the hips, which is very subtle but provides extra stability to a boat that has very hard edges. This gives paddlers an added peace of mind and ease of use in whitewater of any kind. Most importantly, in my mind, is the stern. As soon as the added width ends, the stern immediately tapers back; both in rocker and in width. This can be seen on many kayaks of this style, but what the other designs lack is the square stern. This is what truly lets the 9R do its thing. The transition from the wide hips to the narrow angled stern allows the boat to do two very special things. The flat hull can ride back on the stern, which sits completely in the water, allowing it to plane cleanly out of holes and off any feature regardless of size.
The author racing his 9R down Homestake Creek at the 2016 GoPro Mountain Games
The coolest part, in my opinion, is the ability to ‘drop the stern.’ The edge of the boat trails all the way back to the stern, which has very hard angles. So a paddler is able to lean back, drop a bit of edge, and engage the stern. This lets you release the boat lift the bow up over almost anything. This is a technical, but unbelievably effective technique.
The Final Verdict
I have taken this boat down water both big and technical whitewater. After paddling this boat for a few months, I've found that the boat not only handles whitewater of all types well, but it does it with style. It pushes out of moves with great speed and tracks right into the next. It provides the sensation of paddling a Ferrari. If you are looking for a boat the can pick apart even the most complicated of moves, or you just want to go fast, look no further. I feel that it will be some time until there is kayak that compares to the 9R in the realm of speed and technicality. Words by Spencer Huff