When Pyranha came out with their new Surfski, the Octane 175, I was excited to try it out and now after 10 weeks it just keeps getting better. This ski is perfect for beginning to intermediate paddlers: those who want to learn, play in the surf or try their hand at racing. I wanted a ski for fitness training during the winter and eventually out in the surf when the weather warms up. Paddling a ski will give you a full workout- you are rotating with every stroke, pushing/pulling with your legs and using all of your core muscles. For me, it also allows me to keep my legs straight and reduce the amount of torque on my knees and ankles.
I had been trying out other surfskis for several months prior but I had not found one that fit me best. My main focus was stability, especially since I was using it for solo workouts on the lake or the bay. The primary stability of the Octane is hard to beat, until you feel the secondary stability kick in. Performance is always a key feature- with over 17′ of waterline, the Octane will generate plenty of speed while the rocker allows you to make sharp turns on flatwater and quick turns between waves. My third focus was durability, it is incredible to have a boat under 30 lbs, but after trying to carry a 20′ long boat without hitting an end, having it launch off your shoulder with a sudden wind burst or simply dealing with shallow water and rocks, the composite idea faded away. Plus, while others were repairing their skis on the weekend, I was still out there paddling. Overall, all of the features of the Pyranha Octane make it an impressive surfski.
The variance in paddler size is very generous- although the Octane 175 was designed for medium to large paddlers, I have found that it also suits smaller paddlers as well. At both ends of the spectrum, there is still room for more/less- I tested this ski with a paddler who was 6’5 and 210 lbs and found the ski to fit him comfortably while allowing for 4 more inches of leg room. On the other side of the spectrum, at 5’6, I still had 8 inches of room to move the foot pegs towards me. Adjusting the foot pegs is quick, a simple turn of a screw allows you to slide the pegs into place and then lock them in a slot. The boat is so stable that you could even do this while on the water.
The paddle entry point cutaway allows you to make clean catches and adds to the ergonomics of this ski. The narrowness allows you to plant the blade alongside the ski and then naturally widens back out. It has significantly helped me improve my forward stroke, especially when using a wing paddle.
One of the best and simplest details of this ski is the self bailer- this may seem insignificant but for those who have paddled a ski know how easy it is to knock out a plug. To open the self bailer, you simply pull it back with your heel and close it by pushing it forward.
The CoreLite construction creates a highly durable, incredibly stiff and lighter weight ski in comparison to other polyethylene skis. I was worried about the weight of the boat, it was projected at 57 lbs (52 lbs with an understern udder) but mine weighs under 48 lbs, even with the overstern rudder. The large side handles make it easy to carry, I can easily lift it on/off the car and down to the water.
On the water, the performance of the Octane is dynamic. With a waterline of almost 18′ and a narrow beam of 20″, this ski can pick up speed fast. It is an incredibly stable ski as well, the primary stability alone is impressive but the secondary stability is outstanding. You will find that the semi-hard chines that start at the midpoint and end at the stern allow you to carve and surf while maintaining stability. The Octane has a ton of rocker, which you will love when you are riding a swell or making quick turns in between waves. If you are using the over stern rudder, you definitely need to have it down at all times but you will be amazed at how well it tracks- I only find myself using the rudder on tight turns, otherwise the ski follows your line of vision. The Octane turns on a dime- it is amazing how fast the ski turns with the rudder alone, then add an outside edge to tighten up the turn even more. You can choose to have an overstern rudder or the understern rudder, or both. They are easy to change out and you can carry the other one in the hatch. I prefer the overstern, it is one less thing to worry about plus in the winter you can drive the ski all the way in and keep your feet dry. The overstern can quickly be raised if you find yourself in shallow or rocky water and it drops back down with a simple pull of the cord.
After 10 weeks of paddling the Octane, I simply love it. It continues to allow me to keep pushing my skills, explore new waterways and more. If you have ever been intrigued by a surfski or wanted to learn, this is the ski for you. The stability of the boat will make you feel comfortable while learning, then you can keep adding to your skills when you decide to take it out on a river or in the surf.