The 2011 Pyranha Varun Whitewater Kayak Review

It's about that time of year when we all start to anticipate the arrival of next years kayaks. 2011 is on it's way. One of the highlights for the up and coming season will for sure be Pyranha's new free runner, The Varun (which means The God of Rain). We were able to paddle this all new boat earlier in the month. As a result, one staff member ended up ordering a Varun for himself, and a few others are very excited to paddle them on late season Cataract/ Westwater trips. Yesterday we received or first container of Varun's, and the really do look awesome. Here are some photo's and pre season observations.

Specs:


Length Width Volume Cockpit Length Cockpit Width Weight
6'8" 24.75" 58 US gals 35" 18.75" 33.6 lbs

Pros:

  • The Varun's hull is very loose, and is quick edge to edge. We surfed it on The Staircase wave at The Buena Vista River Park, and compared to all of the free running kayaks that we sell, The Varun has one of the fastest, loosest hulls.
  • This boat rolls VERY EASILY. Beginners will have no problem getting their rolls down in the Varun. Advanced paddlers will have one less thing to worry about because it's really easy to get this boat right side up.
  • The bow is pretty slicey for flatwater tricks and cartwheels. This boat is the perfect choice for down river old school freestlyn'. 360 degree stern squirts, bow stalls, eddyline cartwheels, etc will all be super fun in this boat. It also loops and does advanced tricks; there's jut a little more boat length do deal with. One note from our test pilot was that when surfing, the hull did not tend to perl like some other boats in it's category.
  • The Connect 30 Outfitting is simple, quality, comfortable and supportive. If you've paddled a Pyranha in the past 3-4 years, you know what to expect.
  • The Varun comes in cool colors. Overall it is a really good looking boat.
  • At 58 gallons, the Varun has 4 more gallons of volume than the Jackson Fun (the reigning king of free runners). This makes the boat stable when paddling downriver. Because of the volume distribution (with the slicey ends) it is still possible to pull off cool tricks, but at the same time have a great learning boat. After paddling the Varun for a few hours, the consensus was that this is the perfect kayak for the beginning / intermediate paddler to learn in, and then keep for a long time because it is still capable of doing all kinds of tricks.

Cons:

  • As of right now, The Varun is only available in a medium. If you want the large or small you will have to wait a month or 2.
  • Paddlers may feel like they sit a little bit low in the boat. This is easily remedied with some foam or even sweet cheeks.
  • The Varun falls into the same trap as The Fun, Wavesport Fuse and the now extinct Liquid Logic CR series does. They are neither river runners, nor play boats. They do not have enough volume to run hard class V whitewater (for the average paddler - Jed Selby and Andre Spino Smith ran barrel springs in their All Stars and did not even get his heads wet, but they are the exception), and may have too much volume to pull off the latest and greatest freestyle moves. This is not an issue particular to The Varun, it's true for all free runners.

The Verdict:

We are really excited about the arrival of the 2011 Pyranha Varun's. They seem to have the right mix of work and play. The boat's got 58 gallons of river running volume distributed around a free running design. It has medium / long slicey ends good for pulling off squirts and cartwheels all day long. There' also enough speed in the hull, and volume in the knee / bow area to do more advanced moves. It comes in a great color selection, is very comfortable to sit in for a while, and best of all ROLLS EASILY. This boat is a great option for the beginning / intermediate paddler looking to learn the basics of playboating (and then take it a step further if they want), dial in their roll and have confidence running intermediate whitewater. So far the lineup for 2011 boats is looking pretty darn good.

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