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Bren Orton | Pyranha Ozone review

Naming anything is tricky business. From pets, to companies, to boats. Kayaks are no different, however in the case of the name for the new Pyranha kayak, I think they smashed it. Paying homage to iconic designs of the past such as the Inazone and Prozone and playing with the fact that the Ozone surrounding our earth is made up of three oxygen atoms, the subsequent kayak is also a tripple threat . River running, freestyling, and learning, the Pyranha Ozone does it all.

River Running | I have been using the Ozone almost exclusively since the start of the year and have taken it down everything from whitewater parks to a high water Etive. It is incredibly easy to boof, snaps into eddies and is a treat to ferry glide – it really feels like I am surfing across the tiniest, slowest pieces of whitewater to the other side of the river! At seven and a half feet it’s surprisingly quick and the fact that I have a lot of space in the front and a big footblock to go with it gives me some confidence if I was to piton. However, it is not easy to handle on hard whitewater. You have to be quick, light on your strokes and ready to react. I would say that this kayak is best enjoyed on class four and below, but to each their own.

Freestyle | Most modern freestyle kayaks don’t give easy access to that genre of kayaking. They are lightning quick on end, designed for advanced aerial tricks as opposed to vertical ones and are only good in specific types of features. Making it hard to learn in them. The Ozone takes a more traditional approach, it is slower on end allowing you to figure out what is going on if it’s your first time and figure out how to link the next trick if you’ve done it before. It cartwheels beautifully and while it’s main repetoire is vertical tricks, it can still get aerieal and you can pull off some more new school tricks in it. It’s good at hole surfing, like really good. But on a wave it is out and out, outreageous. It is the fastest, loosest whitewater kayak I have ever had the joy to surf and I havn’t even gotten it on a good one yet. On small, mediocre waves I was astounded at how fast this kayak is and how much of a good time I could have just carving around and front surfing and how it would literally surf everything.

Learning | The Ozone will make your regular run much more fun, challenge you to learn new skills and allow you to become a much better, well rounded kayaker. It has already made me brush up on some old, rarely used skills and I look forward to re-learning many more.

The time has long gone when we would use massive kayaks designed for steep rivers on easier sections of whitewater and float easily over the top of all the features or just park and play at one spot. It’s time to enjoy the river, the whole river in the new Pyranha Ozone.

See you on the water,



The North Nahanni River. Mackenzie Mountains, Northwest Territories.

Peering several thousand feet down into the fifth canyon of the North Nahanni, I strained to recall what I had seen down in the depths of this slot six days previously when we had scouted the canyon by bush plane. After paddling through four canyons since that flight, my memory was getting hazy.

Ben pondering whats down there.

Seven days earlier after a two hour bush plane flight we unloaded our gear and began hiking down towards the headwaters of the North Nahanni River, a 200 mile tributary of the Mackenzie river. After an hour of walking through the tundra we arrived, setting up camp at waters edge. As the never ending sunset of the northland continued we fell asleep dreaming of the days on the river to come.

Making our way down to the river.

The first three days on the river we made quick progress, paddling through four of the North Nahanni’s major canyons. The first canyon contained the most challenging whitewater of the trip with several steep powerful cascades and surging corridors. While the whitewater was difficult in the first canyon, the biggest challenges lay downstream as the canyon walls grew larger.

First Canyon

Canyons two, three, and four had looked mellow from our scout flight and we paddle through them with relative ease enjoying the class three and four rapids.

Canyon two

On the fourth day, we paddled through the first half of the fifth canyon. The walls were dark and a foreboding storm set the mood as we paddled through the canyons quality whitewater. After a full day of running great rapids we camped in a spot where the canyon briefly opened up. Unbeknownst to us as we fell asleep that night, three days later we would have only moved one mile downstream from that camp.

Putting on the fifth morning, rapids began right around the corner. Soon we were climbing up the limestone cliffs doing an extended scout of a narrow section of river. Three of us scouting on the left and three on the right. The canyon was so narrow you could almost jump across from rim to rim. Five days earlier, we had spotted a section of river on our flight in that looked like it went under ground. Was this the section? We all hoped it was as we got in our kayaks and paddled into the gorge after deeming it good to go.

Morning of day five. Rapids build and canyon walls rise up.

With the previous gorge still in sight, we all got out for another extended scout as the river appeared to be going into a much deeper section of canyon. As we got a look at what lay downstream, we knew that we had not yet passed the feared section of subterranean river. We watched as the water disappeared into rock and entered one of the deepest canyons I have ever seen.

Getting a look as the river goes underground.

At 10 am we made camp and started problem solving. For the remainder of the day we hiked along both river left and river right trying to located a potential route for re-entering the canyon should we choose to finish the gorge at river level. If we chose the alternative, we would be faced with a multi-day portage over the final ridge of the Mackenzie Mountains before the terrain flattened into the plains.

Our only potential option for re-entering the canyon was on river right. The following day we ferried across the river and began portaging high out of the canyon, feasting on blueberries during breaks. Making our way back towards the river, we left our kayaks on a ledge, still 700 feet above the river. After scrambling around on the cliffs, we found a potential rappel route that could get us back to the river. Still uncertain of what lay downstream, however we spent the remainder of the day scouting the rest of the gorge.

Even after a full day of scouting on river right, one section of river still remained a mystery. Pinched tightly between the towering cliff walls, we were unable to see into this deep and dark corridor. The following day we split up the tasks at hand. Ben and Nate portaged back upstream, crossed the river, and hiked down river left to get a view into this questionable pinch. The rest of us began to set up a rope system to lower ourselves and our kayaks back into the canyon. After several hours of rope work, we confirmed that we could reach the river. Ben and Nate returned from their scout with good news, informing us that the corridor in question was runnable! We relaxed that evening, camping on the cliff edge, knowing we would be finishing off the North Nahanni at river level.

Knowing we would be going in come morning.

The following morning, we scrambled down to our rope system and began lowering into the canyon, one at a time, to a small ledge ten feet above the river. The ledge was only big enough for two, so we planed to seal launch in and regroup downstream. After many hours of lowering, the whole group was reunited in the canyon. We ate a quick lunch and the rest of the afternoon was filled with scouting and running beautiful big water rapids.

Re-entering the canyon
Making our way through the final canyon.
Well worth the effort
As the river cuts through the final ridge of the mountains, the canyon walls approach 3,000 feet.

After the river cut through the last ridge in the Mackenzie Mountains, the canyon walls receded. Very few words were spoken as we exited the canyon, still processing the surreal whitewater and the towering cliffs we had just paddled through. Hoping to make progress on the 100 miles of flat water ahead, we paddled into the night being led by the northern lights.


Rio Cofanes

The Rio Cofanes is the unicorn river in Ecuador. On the walls of Gina’s restaurant are two big portraits of beautiful bedrock canyons, contrasting the pink and grey walls with the luscious green of the jungle above. Of all the photos on display, they are the ones that your eyes are drawn to, filling you with wonder and desire.

The Rio Cofanes is in the north of Ecuador, near the border with Columbia. Putting on in the quaint mountain village of La Sofia, the river winds down for 34 miles until it confluences with the Rio Chingual to form the Aguarico (meaning “rich water” – presumably due to the discovery of gold). Starting out at a gradient of 105 feet per mile, the river cuts its way through three beautiful bedrock canyons. A third of the way into the run, the Rio El Dorado joins, the gradient halves and the river becomes more open. But more importantly than the guidebook facts – the river looks like a dream.

📷: Jeremy Nash

So, what’s the catch?

The Cofanes is notoriously hard to catch at the right levels. It has to be low. The three bedrock canyons are completely committing, filled with must-run rapids and a pretty sketchy portage. Once you are in, there is only one way out – downstream. Now, remember that you are in a rainforest with no reliable weather forecast to speak of. So, it is not surprising to learn that only 9 crews have ever previously descended the river. There had been a lot of rain in Ecuador this season, so I never thought this would be the year. However, after a week-long dry spell, we got the call that we had been hoping for! Knowing that this was not a river to run as a pair, Jeremy Nash and myself spent the next hour trying to convince Rowan James (who was fresh off the plane 12 hours earlier) and Jack Grace (who had never done a multiday before) that this river would be everything that was missing from their lives.

After a 6-hour drive to the put-in the next day, with a quick pit stop to buy food and a machete and the opportunity to be real tourists at the Magico waterfall, we were greeted with primo flows. Filled with anticipation and excitement, we explored the local village, chased some chickens, tried to befriend a parrot, and put some important phone numbers into my InReach.

Magico Waterfall
📷: Jack Grace

Just as it started to get dark, the heavens opened and the rain poured down upon us. Nervously looking around at each other, no-one wanted to voice aloud our concerns. “It’s the best river of your life” – Abe Herrera’s words echoed around my head as I kept all of my fingers and toes crossed for it to stop raining. After the longest hour of my life, it started to subside. However, my night’s sleep was still restless, filled with dreams of flash floods and portaging mishaps. Thankfully, I woke up to find the stars shining down upon us! The next day we tried our best to force the big breakfast of rice, lentils, chips, and chicken down our throats at 6am to give ourselves enough energy for what lay ahead. We packed up quickly and hiked down the steep road to the put-in. A big sigh of relief echoed around as we saw that the river was still crystal blue and did not appear to have risen significantly from the night before.

Right from the get-go, the action started, with high-quality rapids weaving their way through a maze of big boulders. Jeremy took the lead, as the driving force for the trip, with no rapid too steep for him to read and run. Countless boofs and waves had us grinning from ear to ear as the reality that we had actually made it to the Cofanes began to sink in. The first canyon passed without much difficulty and the whitewater eased for a second, giving us the opportunity to take in our surroundings and check our progress on the map.

Reaching the second canyon, we were greeted with a large horizon line dropping into the steep-sided gorge. I knew this was the “Narnia” rapid from the photo at Gina’s. Hopping out to scout, the rapid was steeper and burlier than I had been expecting. At the bottom of the rapid, all the water dropped away into what looked like a giant hole, with the water flushing out of the right side quickly towards… the canyon wall? We were unable to see past the corner to be 100% sure, but at least we could take comfort in the giant pool we could see downstream.

Jeremy’s last words of wisdom were to remember my new year’s resolution (to have more confidence in my kayaking) and that he would be at the bottom. Then he jumped in his boat and paddled into the abyss. I quickly followed suit, knowing that scouting for longer would only serve to make me more nervous. Whilst driving right for the final move, I got caught in the seam, plugged off the drop, went straight down to Narnia, and popped up the other side, feeling very happy and relieved!

The most extreme way to demist your GoPro lens…

Miles of quality read and run whitewater in the third canyon eventually led us to the portage. This was the part that I was dreading. A couple of years ago the perfect waterfall boof on the Cofanes collapsed, leaving behind a walled-in hole which is unrunnable except at the lowest flows. The only way around is to jump from one slippery-as-ice boulder to another, lower boats down, then try to find a spot on the rock flat and stable enough to get in your boat. Oh, and this all happens right above a siphon. Figuring out the best way to tackle the portage was like a fun puzzle, but actually doing it was one of the scariest things I’ve done in a while! It was great to be with a team who I completely trusted to work together and keep each other safe, but I was very glad to see the back of it once it was over.

📷: Jack Grace

Cruising on down knowing the worst was done, we passed the confluence with the Rio El Dorado. At this point the flow doubled, the river opened up, and the character changed. All that was left to do was to find the perfect spot to hang our hammocks, make some dinner, and get a well-earned night’s sleep! The next day, with all of the hard work behind us, we could sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery. Thin veils of water shimmered down the cliff walls whilst parrots screeched in the sky, flying back and forth above our heads.

The kayaking was much faster on the second day. Even though we still had half the distance to cover, we reached the takeout only 3 hours after putting on. We lucked out when we found a group of local fishermen, with their truck parked right at the takeout, who agreed to drive us to Lumbaqui so that we could catch a bus back to Baeza. Exhausted and aching but elated, we even arrived back in time for the Bridge to Bridge race party.

The Cofanes really was everything I had hoped for and more. It was some of the best read-and-run whitewater I have ever done, in one of the most remote, beautiful places I have ever been to. Our need to get past the portage on the first day prevented us from taking much media, but this is a trip that I will not forget anytime soon!



39 days. 4 countries. 1,000km of kayaking. 1 River. The Sava. April 24th – June 1st 2020.

This has been our idea for many years, and in 2020 we are making it a reality! Balkan Rivers Tour 5 will see our crew put in kayaks at the source of the Sava River in Slovenia on April 24th and then paddle the entire length of it through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Serbia, where we will take out with a grand finale on June 1st, the International Day of Sava, in Belgrade.


To show how stunning the Sava is; how many different animal and plant species still call it home, how flood forests protect the cities along its flow, how many incredible tributaries add to its waters, and how it connects different landscapes, nations, and traditions while remaining the river which defines the Balkan peninsula.

The Sava in flood mode.

But unfortunately, there’s another ‘Why?

It’s because we want to create a counterweight to absurd ideas of what decision-makers call development. On top of 9 already existing (highly destructive) hydropower plants on Sava river in Slovenia, there are plans for at least 14 new HPPs in Slovenia and Croatia, a channel connecting Sava and Danube in Croatia and many other projects that would turn the Sava River into a series of dead reservoirs (and this way kill one of the last corridors for wildlife in Europe). On top of that, there are more than 500 new HPPs planned in the Sava catchment.

“No more dams like that.”

So, the goal of Balkan Rivers Tour 5 is to unite everyone who understands the value of wild rivers for humanity and build up the momentum along a 39 day-long action with a big final event in Belgrade, where we will make clear statement directed at decision-makers; the Sava is an integral part of Europe’s greater freshwater ecosystem, acknowledge it as a climate change mitigation tool and provide better biodiversity protection while supporting ecotourism and economy. Instead of mass destruction through HPPs (which would be heavily subsidized by taxpayer’s money, this way enabling rampant corruption and completely unnecessary devastation), we will demand from decision-makers and investment institutions to back out from hydro and rather support way cheaper and real green alternatives all combined in one simple concept; giving rivers more space through announcement of new protected areas and restoration of degraded stretches of rivers, solar panels on already existing infrastructure, and general transition to sustainable economy with smaller general power consumption in the future. 

How can you join in?

Well, come paddle with us and show that protecting the Sava and the tributaries is a demand coming from all over the world. We are giving you a promise you will have a blast hanging around with a bunch of special people, experiencing cool cultures, and seeing some incredible stretches of river. Best times to join us are the first stage (April 24th – May 3rd) with cool whitewater sections and the last stage (May 25th – June 1st) if you are into flatwater kayaking and lots of parties. You can find the full program here.

How can you get directly involved?

In order to prove fighting for Balkan rivers is a movement rather than a project, we are inviting you to create your River Action on any of the numerous rivers in the Sava catchment. Use your connections, wild ideas and imaginations to come up with it. To help you a bit, here are our guidelines.

See you on the Sava or its tributary!
Rok and the BRT5 crew


Can you spare a few clicks to help fight for access on our rivers?

It’s time to join a movement of paddlers calling for the freedom to paddle on all our country’s waters and demanding protection for our precious environment.

Here in 2020, we take our stand.

This year marks 20 years of the Countryside & Rights of Way Act; 20 years of enjoying a right to roam on our amazing mountains, moors and heaths. We often take it for granted that our hills and crags are our playgrounds for adventure and fun – but pick up a paddle and on some waterways in England and Wales you will be made to feel unwelcome and often threatened with trespass, or worse.

We believe the right to roam should be extended to our waters – so that more people can enjoy paddling and swimming in all corners of the UK. We also believe our rivers and oceans should be left clean and clear for the next generation; free from the growing tide of plastic pollution and alive with rich native wildlife.

“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

Ultimately if we cannot access these amazing spaces, then we stand little chance of being able to save them for future generations. Climate Change for many feels distant and too big to grasp. BUT every one of us can play our part, by fighting for the health of our rivers and demanding an equal, shared right of access.

Whatever you are signing up to this January, whether it is ‘Veganuary’, or ‘Dry-January’, spare a few clicks to sign the NEW Clear Access, Clear Waters Petition. Lend your support to the campaign urging Government to tackle this issue now. We made fantastic headway in 2019 and it’s time to build on that momentum.

These are your rivers, this is your sport. If we remain passive, the status quo will never change.

Visit now to find out more.


Ozone: Descended from Icons


Leland Davis drops into Sunshine on the Green River in his InaZone

Paddlers play and run rivers across the globe in the soon-to-be-iconic InaZone, a kayak which will go on to see two generations and ultimately be awarded Playboating Magazine’s ‘Kayak of the Decade’ award.


Pete Catterall surfing on the Ottawa in a ProZone
📷: Vicky Barlow

Forward-thinking paddlers have their minds blown by the ProZone, a more radical version of the InaZone which, like many of history’s legends, will not be widely appreciated until after its time is over.


Tom Parker summits ‘Everest Rock’ on the Tryweryn in the Z.One
📷: Chris Eastabrook

The Z.One arrives in the midst of the ‘creek-boat-craze’ but finds its place amongst enthusiasts as a great boat for all-round fun and smooth surfing performance.

The year is 2019…

Paddlers have re-discovered the joys of tearing up their favourite runs in kayaks like the Ripper, busting out tailies wherever they see an inviting eddy line, but they want more… dreams of cartwheels, blunts, and whirlwind-fast flat spins call for something a little shorter and slicier in the bow.

Others seek to free up their freestyle, go beyond their training feature, and explore the rest of the river in the kind of comfort and with the ability to catch waves on the fly that shorter, pure-freestyle designs just don’t offer.

Then there are those who have done none of the above; they’re searching for their first kayak, and want something that will allow them to run their first rivers, learn their first freestyle moves, and get the kind of well-rounded experience that you can only find in a sport like kayaking.

We’ve made that boat, and we’ve called it the Ozone…

Learn more about the Ozone here.

Demos will begin arriving at the dealers below in January, so get ready to make the Ozone the first boat you paddle in 2020:

Pueblito Expediciones, Valdivia
Kyiv Kayak, Boyarka
Sport Schröer, Unna
Kanu-Treff, Augsburg
Kajak-Hütte, Peissenberg
Ulis Paddel & Outdoorladen, Ketsch
Lettmann GmbH, Moers
ZigZag, Albi
Globepaddler, Huningue
Canoe-Shop, Dives-sur-Mer
I-Canoe, Dublin
Bantry Bay Canoes, Cork
Up and Under, Cardiff
Canoe & Kayak Store, Cardiff
River Active, Llangollen
Radical Rider, Canolfan Tryweryn
The Boathouse, Norfolk
Above + Below, Lee Valley
Desperate Measures, Holme Pierrepont
Kent Canoes, Wrotham
Whitewater The Canoe Centre, Shepperton
Robin Hood Watersports, Heckmondwike
South Coast Canoes, Wimborne
The first batch will be on the way shortly, please contact your local dealer to register your interest!


For the Children…

There are some new youth programs being born in the Gorge! I can’t be more excited to be part of their genesis. One of them is the continuation of Rivers For All.

Watch this video, and if it pulls at your heartstrings, give the Gorge Ecology Facebook Page a like and donate to our river program! No donation is too small or too big, and we are forever grateful!

Educating and empowering our youth is one of the most meaningful things in life. The more kids we get on the water, the more river stewards we’ll get advocating for our special places, and the more passionate soul brothers and sisters we’ll have in the future.

Stay safe out there, have fun, grow our sport, and be the mentor you were lucky enough to have or the one you always wanted.


A Season in the USA: Part Two


Unlike its northern states, California got hammered with snow all winter long. This provided a large snowpack which, combined with the mellow spring temperatures, made the rivers come in later than usual and led to an extremely long season on the Sierras.

I managed to make the trip down from Washington and partner up with my brother, Aniol, as well as Scott Lindgren and my Pyranha Team-mates from Gradient and Water (Ari, Jordy, and Barny), plus a few other friends, for an amazing couple weeks of boating on some of the best rivers I’ve ever paddled. 

We started off with Yuba Gap on the South Yuba; an epic section of continuous whitewater with really fun rapids running between massive granite boulders. We did two laps with perfect flows, but during our third lap the water was turned off (it’s dam controlled); this meant we had to finish the lap with a lower flow, but actually made the last big rapid, ‘the Crane’, a lot more appealing to run. All in all, it was amazing to get to paddle this world-class section which doesn’t run that many times a year.

From there we drove to the North Fork of the Mokelumne River, better known as Fantasy Falls, for an amazing 2 day trip at perfect flows through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen; huge granite domes to the left and right, and some of the highest quality whitewater I’ve ever paddled! There were so many cool rapids with epic moves, one after the other.

Fantasy Falls has everything; mank, huge granite slides, some scenic flats, boulder gardens, waterfalls, and a big water feel towards the end… oh, and don’t forget about the paddle out across Salt Spring reservoir to soak it all in. Once at the takeout, we just wanted to go again, so the next day we did it again in a single day. Knowing the lines a lot better this time, we went really fast and only took some time to scout the bigger rapids. It was an amazing day with my brother, Aniol, and Michael down one of my new favourite rivers.

After Fantasy, we drove straight south to get a few laps on the Kern, which was still holding at around 3600cfs. An epic place in the middle of the desert, the Kern is the continuous oasis that nourishes all the trees and vegetation around it and has endless rapids. We had a great time on the Thunder Run and the Cataracts. Thanks to fellow Team Pyranha paddlers, Evan Moore and Carson Lindsay, for the lines and beta; there were so many cool and stout rapids, with many lines to choose from. We did some great laps before the time arrived to head back up to the NW, having had one of the best weeks of kayaking of my life.

No doubt, California is one of the best places for kayaking on the planet and I cannot wait to go back! Thank you, everyone, for the lines, safety, and good times on and off the water; kayaking is the best!


Park Jam 2019

Another year of the Park Jam has come, the kids I met for the first time have gotten older, taller and better at kayaking but best of all there are new people popping up throughout the countries whitewater parks.

The first years tour was a bit of an impromptu rush to make it happen, nobody knew what to expect – especially myself but it was received well and in the second year we ironed out some creases and the local kayakers knew what to expect. Now in it’s third year and with more help in the planning and running of the tour, I really feel like it is growing into what we had first hoped it to be. A way to connect with the local kayaking community at each park and to inspire the next generation of mini senders.

There were a lot of awesome moments and highlights from the past two weeks but by farmy biggest highlight was to see the countries Whitewater parks surrounded by great communities of people and so many talented youngsters, the future of kayaking in the UK is very bright indeed.


24th Annual Green River Narrows Race, Saluda NC

The notorious Green River Narrows Race is well known in the whitewater racing community here in the US for being one of the steepest sprint competitions in the country. With the course being just under a mile long and choked with steep and shallow rapids such as go left, chiefs, and gorilla, pacing yourself is key but you also must paddle hard the entire time if you want to crack the top 20. Some of the most respected kayakers from all over the world show up to put it all on the line. People such as Eric Deguil from France and Marcelo Galizio from Brazil are just two examples.

This year, we had a great turn out of team representation for the race. We had some fresh talent just added to the team competing, with Nic Williams competing in the short boat class. US Director Mike Patterson decided to make a surprise appearance this year, coming into the race with no practice laps and laying down a time of 4:52 to take 41st place. Fresh off paternity leave, Jared Seiler dusted off the cob-webs but unfortunately missed the finish line gates, docking him some serious time. He shrigged the crowd several times and won the show but finished with leisurely time of 5:17.

KLCG showed up to compete and party this year, all having great laps on race day. Howard Magley had a few seconds on Patterson, finishing with a time of 4:44 seconds to land him in 32nd place overall. Benny’s Drew just barely held off Howard with a 4:42 which earned him a 29th finish. Bernie Engleman almost broke the four-and-a-half-minute mark, coming into the finish line at 4:35 and a 22nd place overall. Billy ‘Reverend’ Jones demonstrated that living at the takeout may give you an advantage over the rest, coming out of rapid transit hot and through the gates at 14th place with a time of 4:31. Returning 2018 Green Race Peoples Champ Holt McWhirt showcased again why he is a premier athlete on the rise in the competitive field, finishing in 8th place with a 4:23.3, just behind Matt Anger who clocked a 4:23 flat. Young gun Jeremy Nash took the fastest time for Team Pyranha this year, finishing 5th with a blazing fast 4:22.8.

In 4th place, Daggers Junior Isaac Hull made a solid impression finishing one tenth of a second behind Liquidlogics Pat Keller who placed third behind Michael Ferraro, with Dane Jackson setting the new course record at 4:04.

Big congrats to all of our Team Athletes who showed up and represented the brand this year! You make us all proud to be apart of this big family of talented paddlers.

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