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Season Starter in Valsesia

You only get one chance to start your season, and this year, the flows were calling for a trip to Val Sesia in Italy. I’ve been to this valley a couple of times in past seasons, and 2023 provided some amazing days on the river, from cruising laps on the Egua to paddling numerous laps on the Landwasser waterfall. Although I had already experienced high and low flows, there was always one section left to be done: The Sorba, better known for the infamous Devil’s Slide.

In 2023, we tried to paddle the two lead-up waterfalls and then decide on the slide once we were there, but we were quickly turned around when there was way more water than what was needed, leaving us hiking our boats back up the steep cliff face. Which brings us to this season.

📷: John Haines

John and I left our home in Ötztal because of the cold weather and snow to head over to Val Sesia, hoping for warmer weather and better flows. However, we were met with the same snow-capped mountains and cold weather. That did not stop us from putting on our gear and heading to the river. After all, I had my new ReactR to try. As the levels were fairly low, we decided to go down the Lower Sermenza for a warm-up before deciding what to do for the rest of the day. After getting off a fun lap, we decided to head up to the Devil’s Slide and check it out.

The flows looked good, so we geared up a little bit upstream from the first waterfall and headed down to see what we could get. We paddled roughly 20 minutes down some fun smaller rapids before approaching the start of the waterfalls.

The first waterfall is a 5-meter drop with a slightly tricky lead-in. You have to slide down a narrow chute while keeping your bow straight so that you can line up the main part of the drop, which makes a sharp 90-degree turn. You have to make sure your bow gets up and above the pile made by the wall, turn your boat, and keep it balanced all at the same time—a lot to figure out in a short amount of time! Fortunately, we all had a good line down it, so it was now on to the second drop.

📷: John Haines

The second waterfall is definitely the easiest of the three; a beautiful 4-meter drop with a clean lead-in. As long as you land facing right, you will skip away and into the pool above the Devil’s Slide. After everyone successfully made it to the bottom of the first two drops, we got out and started to make a plan about the best way to run the slide.

📷: John Haines

What makes the slide difficult is that roughly three-quarters of the way down, there is a hole with a pocket on the left side. After clearing the hole, it falls down to the right into a wall where Paul managed to get himself pinned last year. Luckily, he used his intuition to free himself and carry on down the slide to the pool at the bottom. After some discussion, the safety plan was made. We would run it in pairs while the others set safety above the pocket and grabbed the camera to film.

Alec and Bren went first. Alec had a super clean line through, and Bren got a little caught up in the pocket but saved it and finished the slide backwards. Now, it was time for Paul and me to get ready. One last look and a quick warm-up of the shoulders, and I was ready for it. A slide that I had been wanting to paddle for the last 3 years was right in front of me. The first reconnect sent me up in the air and slightly sideways, but I managed to hold on to it. I cleared the hole and dropped into the last part to see it through to the pool at the bottom. I was stoked! Now it was Paul’s turn for redemption, and he got it with one of the cleanest lines I have seen down it!

📷: Marco Guidi

With all four of us at the bottom, we could all share the excitement that we had successfully paddled all three drops of the section. We then waited for the rest of the crew to walk around the slide and meet us at the bottom. Once we were all together, we continued our way down the river to the take-out, enjoying every little move we could find and concluding that this was a great way to start the season!


Navigating Fear and Gaining Confidence as a Smaller Paddler

It is completely normal to encounter fear when pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. In a sport like kayaking, there are many unpredictable aspects and, let’s face it, a lot of risk, too. I had always been scared to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and often quit when I felt intimidated. When I took up kayaking, I was adamant that I would not let fear hold me back, but this promise to myself became more challenging than anticipated.

Photo taken in Galway during Galway Fest. Tim McCarthy is the paddler on the left.

I spent many a sleepless night pretending to be excited about how much rain was falling and how thrilled I was to see our local spot in flood when, deep down, I was scared. I often spent longer than I should in eddies psyching myself up to run a rapid, one I had done many times before, one I was more than capable of running, and one I knew better than most on the river, but for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I longed for the thrill of running steeper whitewater and more technical rapids, but something was always holding me back.

This photo was taken on our second Cork City navigation during our 24-hour Paddle, which raised over €10,000 for charity. 

I used to complain about how slow my boats were, how my legs were going numb or how my elbows kept hitting the cockpit. “A good tradesman never blames his tools!” is the response I would continue to get. I often felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I felt like no matter how carefully I put in my paddle strokes, I would lose control and get pushed off my line, end up capsizing or end up side-surfing a hole. These experiences, unfortunately, knocked my confidence and allowed fear to take over. I knew that something was not right; I could not explain it, but I knew I did not feel content in my boat.

In hindsight, the boat I was paddling was not suitable for me; it did not complement my paddling style. It was too slow, difficult to manoeuvre and change edges, and difficult to plant my paddle without hitting my elbows off the cockpit. I reflected on the promise I made to myself when I commenced my journey and decided I would not give up, so I began searching for my dream boat, one for a small paddler who likes to push the limits.

This photo was taken during Galway Fest, and the photographer was Charlotte from Cha Fitz Photography

Choosing the right boat as a smaller paddler was proving quite difficult. I spoke to lots of small paddlers within the community, and unfortunately, I was not alone. It was a struggle to find a boat that I thoroughly enjoyed paddling while being comfortable and confident. The boats I was used to paddling often felt like I was paddling in a bathtub, with no control, resulting in added fear.

I had the honour of chatting with Chris Wing, who encouraged me to try a Ripper. I was hesitant to paddle a half-slice when I had been paddling a creek boat, but as soon as I put that boat on moving water, my outlook on small boats immediately changed.

Chris Wing and I at the ICF Freestyle World Cups in Columbus.

The Ripper is a fast, manoeuvrable boat that is incredibly responsive and suits my style of paddling. Thanks to the control I now had, it helped grow my confidence when running bigger features. I sold my other two creek boats to exclusively paddle my half slice, and my journey of chasing whitewater continued.

I spent the next week nonstop in Co. Kerry, chasing the rain and pushing my paddling. I attempted lines I had always feared of running, and I finally started to believe in myself again. Finding a boat that I felt in control of, being small but in between sizes, was draining, but it was most certainly worth it in the end.

This photo was taken by Mark Hoare. The rapid is Second Gorge on the River Flesk, Co.Kerry

Chris recommended the Ripper to me, given my background as a freestyle kayaker, knowing I just wanted to play with the river. One of the main aspects that drew me to whitewater kayaking was being able to have fun in the features. My Ripper has allowed me to stern squirt on every eddyline, catch even the smallest of waves, boof with ease and overall, just makes running the river more enjoyable.

Finding a boat as a smaller paddler can be tough. My advice is to try as many boats as possible and keep an open mind. If you have not already, I highly recommend trying the small Scorch and the Ripper, as they are perfect for the smaller paddler.

Part 2 of the above photo, also taken by Mark Hoare. Second Gorge on the River Flesk, Co.Kerry


Nascar Racing with Plastic Kayaks: Finn Blackburn’s Road to Team USA.

Sometimes you have to dream big. So, Finnigan Blackburn decided he would go after a spot on Team USA. That seemed kinda like a place to start before OBJ started running in the summer. Of course, he had never run a slalom course, or actually been in a slalom boat, or run gates. But when you grow up in kayak town Salida, Colorado, those are just minor details. Finn began every day training in the river by himself, day after day, all winter long. He lifted at 5:30 am, went to school all day, and paddled into the winter darkness. He and his brothers would take a break to surf ice chunks to spice things up.

Then Finnigan hooked up with Team Colorado Whitewater and travelled to Montgomery, Alabama, for the US Open race. He borrowed the boat and duct-taped it between each run. He borrowed the skirt, the paddle, the PFD, and the helmet. He began to learn how a man-made course felt, and how the gates worked. He didn’t win. He rolled and he swam. The new kid just kept showing up. He didn’t finish last, but he was nowhere near first in his 20-year-old sinking boat. 

So, he came home, rinse and repeat. Back at the weights. Back in the river. Alone. Rocky Balboa Style.

Three weeks later, back in Montgomery, Alabama, still checking the trash cans at the boat house to see if someone was throwing away a gear upgrade. Still sewing up the skirt with fishing line and more silicone–more duct tape. Team USA trials started, and Finn again wasn’t at the top of the slalom racers. He gained a few slots. Still rolling, still getting worked–just on national TV this time.

Then came Kayak Cross. Nascar racing with plastic kayaks in the pristine land of slalom gates. Finnigan’s time trial wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best. However, a plastic boat, Finnigan knew. Grit, Finnigan knew. He was the youngest of four, growing up in the mountains raising steer. So, when it came time to drop head to head with three other paddlers, Finnigan came out of nowhere. 

The semi-finals were aggressive, with banging paddles, boats and a definitive elbow or two (or three). Three times Finnigan fought to the front of the pack, one time with the contender riding his tail. Then, when they hit the big drop, the others tilted, and Finnigan just boofed it, skipping the waves, slightly out of control but in full send mode.

Somehow, he battled out of that heat and landed a spot in the finals. That is when it all shifted. Once he pulled away, the race was over, and he finished seconds ahead of the others. The nobody kid smoked the field, swiping the junior national title and direct referral to the world championships in Slovakia–valid.

For now, Finnigan is training daily in the Salida Whitewater Park in his red Pyranha Ripper and old borrowed slalom boat. His next obstacle is raising enough money for his trip to Slovakia to represent the USA in the world championships. He has a GoFundMe page if you are interested in supporting his growing dream. After this, Finnigan will have to decide if he wants to pursue an Olympic dream.

“Earning a place of the Jr National Team was not my goal when I went to the Olympic Trails in Montgomery. First of all, most of my gear was borrowed and slightly broken, secondly, I had never even seen a man-made course, much less paddled one, thirdly I had never been coached, and everyone else there had years of professional coaching, lastly and most importantly- I had never been in a Kayak Cross race.  I just decided to send it and go for it anyway and give it everything I had.  

Well, I certainly learned a lot, and when I got to the semifinals, I really couldn’t believe it. There I was sitting up on the ramp, about to race with legends. I was totally blown away. I just dropped and fought and paddled with all the grit I had, and then I was out in front. No more fighting at each gate, just me paddling and skipping across the waves. The rhythm was beautiful; it felt like flying.

Winning a spot on the Jr National Team is important to me because I feel like, for once, my pure love of the river and kayaking has taken me somewhere. Just doing what I love has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  

Training has been relentless these last few weeks. Two different coaches have come to Salida to help me learn better technique, but each day, I feel like I have improved so much. The next three weeks, I will be paddling the Grand Canyon with my brother. My focus on the Grand will be fitness. I plan to do sprint workouts each day on the flat water sections and send it big on all the rapids. I can’t wait!

Once I get off the Grand, I will be heading to Europe for some formal coaching and training on the course in Slovakia. I am excited to meet and work with the kayak cross coaches. I am also stoked to meet other kids my age who are crazy about the river and share my passion. I hope that they will push me to achieve beyond anything I could have dreamed!”


Your ReactR and Elite Outfitting Questions Answered

Damn! We don’t think we’ve ever seen such an immediately overwhelming response to a new release… thank you so much for all the love and interest in the ReactR and the Elite Outfitting System it features!

We’ve noticed a few common questions about both, and you’ll find the answers to many of those in our deep dives, and the ReactR and Elite Outfitting walkthrough videos, which you can find below:

Embrace the new era of whitewater kayaking. The most progressive creek boat to hit the rapids since the 9R, the ReactR is here: Read ‘ReactR: A New Era of Whitewater Kayaking’

We didn’t just go back to the drawing board with our outfitting redesign; we built it again, from the hull up: Read ‘This Outfitting is Elite’

About to jump on the river and want the answers to the most frequently asked questions right now? Here you go:

Does the ReactR feature new outfitting?

Yes, the ReactR comes with our new Elite outfitting system, which has been redesigned from the hull up. This is a complete overhaul, reducing the overall boat weight (it’s a bigger boat than the Scorch, but lighter), markedly improving both comfort and connection to the boat, and adding to the ease and range of adjustment, all without compromising on safety, durability, or cost.

How reliable are the backrest cleats?

We’ve done extensive development and testing to ensure our new backrest system retains all the pros of a cleat system, adds more to the list, and negates the downfalls seen in other cleat-based systems. Our system uses high-strength Dyneema cord and high-quality aluminium racing cleats, both of which have excellent longevity and work together reliably. We’re excited for you to discover and enjoy the benefits of this setup!

Does Elite outfitting include hookers?

Yes, and what’s more, these ones have 3-way adjustment for leg angle, amount of grip, and the usual forward/backward adjustment.

How has the seat adjustment changed?

Seat height is still adjusted by adding shims under the seat pad, but the forwards/backwards adjustment is now done by removing a single wingnut, quickly sliding the seat to where you want it, and then replacing it.

What’s the knee-padding situation?

The ReactR thigh grips have oversized pads which adjust with them and cover your knee.

Will the Elite outfitting system be coming to any other current models?

The only model we plan to fit Elite outfitting to other than the ReactR at the moment would be the GuiGui x Pyranha freestyle boat which is still in development.

Can I fit Elite outfitting to my current Pyranha boat?

No, the Elite outfitting is not backwards compatible due to the necessary cockpit rim features and method of hull stiffener attachment.

Has the cockpit rim shape changed?

The outside shape of the ReactR’s cockpit rim is similar to the Firecracker’s, which we worked on in partnership with leading spraydeck manufacturers, but the inside has several changes related to the fitment of the new Elite outfitting system, and in particular, a deepening and padding of the area of the cockpit rim that rests on your shoulders/against your hip during carrying.

When can we expect to see the Medium/Large/Small ReactR?

The Medium and Large are in production now, with the Small next in line to be cut. Availability thereafter will depend on geographic location, but they’re on the way!

How does the ReactR compare to the Scorch?

The ReactR is more dynamic and manoeuvrable, particularly with the looseness of the ends of the boat with the ability to do a “low angle pivot turn”. The additional width profile also allows paddlers to skip further, and faster, than ever before.

How does it compare to 9R/9R II?

The ReactR is faster through steep rapids, much more manoeuvrable (and at a wider range of speeds),  and has way more creeking capability. It also skips out of features faster, with the paddler having more control.

How much rocker does the ReactR have?

It’s hard to compare this to other boats, as the radical new hull design (our “Pivot Hull Philosophy”) doesn’t just seek to keep the boat high by adding a bunch of rocker at the bow, or to get the stern out the way with aggressive kick rocker, but the ReactR certainly rides dry and clears the lip of drops cleanly!

What length is the ReactR?

The Large is just under 9ft (274cm, to be precise), and the Medium just a touch shorter than that at 273cm.

Is the ReactR suitable for beginner/intermediate paddlers?

Absolutely! The same features that help the pros step up their game will help beginners and intermediates do the same. While the ReactR opens up the possibilities for developing new moves, it also makes the familiar ones easier to access. Its manoeuvrability is also a neat Get Out of Jail Free card if you realise you’ve picked the wrong line!

How does the sizing compare to other Pyranha boats?

We noticed the trend of paddlers sizing up in both creek boats and half slices, and so we took this into account when designing the ReactR, meaning each size is a little more generous, but still works well across the advisory weight ranges.

What are the weight ranges?

Medium: 70 to 95kg, Large: approx. 85 to 125kg (TBC), Small: TBC

How easy is it to access the stern, and how much gear can you get back there?

We’ve changed the connection between the backrest and seat so that it can be completely unclipped, and with the lower back edge of the Elite seat, it’s easy to get a two-piece split paddle and/or the typical size of dry bag for other gear back there.

How capable is it as a creek boat or half slice?

The ReactR is not a half (or any fraction) slice; it is a full-fat creek boat, just with agility and an overall design unlike any that has come before.

Happy paddling!


Pyranha Firecracker Review by 4Corners Riversports Athlete, Jack Juntunen

Short & Sweet. The Pyranha Firecracker is a blast on the water. It can shred slicing on Class III, plug spicy holes on Class IV, and launch huge kickflips off any wave. I’ve paddled it on the legendary Futaleufu and Upper Palguin in Chile, and the slicey section of the Soča in Slovenia.

For reference, I am 5’9 ~130lbs and I’m paddling the Firecracker 232. I have paddled a Ripper 1 S and Ripper 2 S extensively, and have a slalom and racing background.

Creeking & Slicing

Photo by Max Zuberbulher

The stern on this boat is designed with fun in mind. On flatwater, I get it in a stern stall with a singular double pump. On small seams and boily water, it can easily stern squirt in circles with minimal paddler input, the stern is short enough that it doesn’t stern tap as frequently as boats like the Ripper 1 or 2 in shallow creeks. One well-timed back sweep on a seam instantly gets the bow up.

While creeking, the bow of this boat stays nice and dry. It has more rocker than an Antix 2.0 but is stubbier than a Ripper and can loop relatively easily out of a hole. The wave deflectors shed water off the deck quite effectively, and landing a boof off a short (~4’) drop like the double drop on the Upper Palguin really lets its light and nimble benefits come to fruition.

Big Water

POV from Jack Juntunen

This boat is short, yet it holds hull speed through boils remarkably well, and with one powerful stroke you can easily kickflip. Paddling it through the formidable Inferno Canyon was the ultimate test, and required a different style of paddling by punching right through the holes bigger than you might expect. The Firecracker’s speed and stability allow you to really focus on stroke timing to absolutely launch it off waves.


Photo by Jack Juntunen

The Firecracker has the Pyranha Stout 2 Outfitting. The molded yet wide seat, combined with an ergonomic ratchet backband and well-placed, adjustable thigh hooks, makes the boat comfortable and take drops well.

Thanks to 4Corners Riversports for sharing this post with us!


This Outfitting is Elite

Moving on from what we strongly felt was a solid outfitting system that didn’t compromise on safety, weight, cost, or durability was hard, but we heard your feedback, and we’re excited that we’ve managed to hit a number of your key requests, whilst still avoiding compromise on those crucial points.

We didn’t just go back to the drawing board with our outfitting redesign; we built it again, from the hull up. Featured in the ReactR, the new Elite outfitting system provides the widest range of paddlers yet with ultimate comfort and control.

Solid, Speedy Seat Position Adjustment

You can now adjust the ergonomic seat forwards and backwards in a matter of seconds, without tools, to find the perfect centre of gravity to suit your unique style and loadout.

3-Way Adjustable Hooker Thigh Grips

The adjustable thigh grips are a game-changing feature, with three-way adjustment that accommodates a range of leg angles and allows for your choice of grip, as well as the usual forward/backward adjustment. Choose the position, angle, and hold for your legs to experience our most responsive, precision fit yet, and enjoy the comfort of the oversized pads that extend over your knees and move with the thigh grips.

Rapid, Reliable Backrest Adjustment

The backrest adjustment features high-grade aluminium racing cleats with an internal pulley to redirect the direction of pull towards the paddler, so your back forms a concave rather than convex arch when tightening for a better fit. This also makes it easier to lock off the cleats, as your arms aren’t at full stretch or fighting the curve of the cockpit rim when doing so.

The system gives a 2:1 mechanical advantage for ease of getting a snug fit and uses a thick Dyneema cord for reliable durability and a secure fit in the cleats. If the worst does happen, you can easily replace the backrest cord in the field, wherever your adventures have taken you.

As well as being wider, which gives you better contact and control, with no gap in comfort between it and the hip pads, the backrest is shallower, which means you can get better placement in the small of your back, with a greater range of adjustment up and down using the height adjustment strap and backrest bungees.

Extreme Comfort

Hip pads with flexible adjustment options in both position and fit, as well as simple, solid seat height adjustment using foam shims, mean you can fully customize your seat. The backrest is also wider and won’t pinch, and along with the seat liner, features entirely new padding that is more comfortable than you ever thought possible!

Easy Access Stern Storage

A lower rise at the back of the seat, and a height adjustment strap that completely detaches, mean that you can also easily access the back of the kayak for storing rescue equipment, camera gear, or overnight kit.

Ergonomic Cockpit Design

Along with the familiar essentials such as an adjustable bulkhead footrest, airbag lash points, quick-access throwline attachment point, and bottle holder, the intuitive cockpit design contributes to a system that maximises your control, enabling you to get the most from this progressive hull design.

No More Sore Shoulders

You’ll be pleased to hear we also made carrying WAY more comfortable by adding more depth to the internal edge of the cockpit rim and adding pads that rest on your shoulder and hip, whichever side you carry your boat—so get ready to go explore those hike-in/hike-out runs!

An Eye on Sustainability

Last but by no means least, reimagining our outfitting offered the perfect opportunity to review its lifecycle, and we’ve paid careful attention to ensuring Elite outfitting can easily be disassembled and recycled at the end of its life.


ReactR: A New Era of Whitewater Kayaking

Embrace the new era of whitewater kayaking. The most progressive creek boat to hit the rapids since the 9R, the ReactR is here.

Head downriver in a way you’ve never experienced before; whether you’re dropping into a steep gorge, threading tight lines between thunderous features, or even upping your game on a local river, the ReactR leaves ordinary creek boats in its wake.

Ride higher and drier in rapids, scream into eddies faster than ever, and find your line without any limitations. This is our most innovative design and opens the doors to the world of river running for kayakers of all abilities.

Whether you’re just learning how to lift the nose over stoppers or you’re looking to clock up some serious air miles, the ReactR allows you to skip over tricky river features, not just with ease, but with style and a huge smile.

What’s more, with unmatched agility and precision, the ReactR allows you to choose your own lines. The nimble frame and responsive handling make it the ultimate tool for conquering every twist and turn the river throws your way. 

The “Pivot Hull Philosophy”

We’ve spent significant time developing an entirely new style of hull, with a perfectly positioned pivot point and two planing surfaces, one in front and another behind, which the paddler can switch between with ease. This means the boat is stable both when landing a drop on the bow and when planing out of features on the tail. You want that skip, and we’ve delivered.

The pivot point position, where the front and back rockers converge, allows you to de-weight the bow and swing it around or up over features. With your weight forward, you can feel the glide and control from the front of the boat. 

We have utilised our new pivot hull philosophy to allow the paddler to choose the kayak’s pitch in real time. This allows you to release the bow and gain ultimate mobility, but all without that tail getting bogged down or going underwater.

This is Not a Half Slice

Whether a quarter, half, or ¾, the ReactR isn’t a slicey boat, where volume has just been removed from the deck. The ReactR’s tail is not designed to be underwater, but to allow water to slide around it. Soft sidewalls above and below result in minimal pressure buildup from side currents and mean you can move when you need or want.

Design Breakdown

  • The ReactR hull has been perfected to enable direction changes when flat without tripping over the tail.
  • An innovative rocker profile takes sidewall pressure away from the ends of the kayak, allowing you to make last-second adjustments and carve into and, if need be, straight back out of eddies.
  • The bow profile has been completely rethought from first principles to give smoother water entry, a lifting point closer to the paddler for more horizontal skips, and to allow cross currents to pass under the kayak without knocking you off your line.
  • The “Pivot Hull Philosophy” allows the paddler to control the kayak’s direction at any speed.
  • ⁠The ReactR’s tail design has been honed to stay on top of the water when heading downstream, but enable rapid direction changes through low-angle pivot turns while keeping your weight over the front and your forward momentum strong.
  • The hull efficiently glides out of features and retains upstream speed in ferries and attainments, yet still gets out of your way quickly during boofs.
  • The dynamic bow captures the flow running over it and directs it under the kayak for increased speed and optimal planing performance.
  • High edges on the bow and stern mean an agile yet predictable carving experience. The paddler can transfer edge easily and fluently without feeling unstable or locked into a position.

New Ideas. New Possibilities. A New Era of Whitewater Kayaking.

The ReactR enables you to push the boundaries of what’s possible on the river, and Team Pyranha’s very own Bren Orton has already been dialling in new techniques in the kayak throughout the prototyping process.

“The ReactR opens up a whole new realm of river running; within just a few days of paddling the prototype, I’d already unlocked a new technique for whipping the kayak over wave trains! 

Following that up with some testing in Brazil, I found I could read and run rapids better than ever before because the ReactR allowed me to react and manoeuvre my kayak so quickly. I’m stoked to spend more time in it!”

This design delivers truly new possibilities. It allows the paddler to double pump, sweep the tail along the water, and boof at any angle. This precision allows for a dynamic range of options in the most technical whitewater.

The Conclusion

The ReactR is a fusion of what paddlers need and what they may have never experienced. It’s designed to give ultimate control in uncontrollable environments, leaving you free to react in the moment and embrace your instincts. This boat takes familiar principles and makes them second nature so you can focus on opportunities you may not have considered before.

The ReactR isn’t just a kayak – it’s a statement about Pyranha’s commitment to leading the charge and progressing the sport through design innovation. Its development tore up the rulebook on creek boat design and rewrote it. Get involved.

Oh, and it comes with an entirely new outfitting system, too…

Our new Elite outfitting system has been redesigned from the hull up to give you optimal control of the ReactR’s progressive hull design, but we’ll tell you more about that in this separate blog post.


Which river runner?

Honestly it’s not easy to choose a Pyranha down river, half slice kayak these days. I currently have four of them sat outside my window vying for my attention to get loaded up on the car and taken to the river. 

I’m a stocky 73kg (160lbs) and I like to swap between the medium and large sizes of the Pyranha kayaks depending on how powerful the river is. 

The Large Ripper, arguably my favourite kayak ever. I can take this kayak to any kayaking zone on the planet and be stoked on my kayak of choice 90%of the time. The other 10% of the time I find myself wishing I had 100% of the Scorch L… but still, the vast majority of time I want to be in the Ripper L. I find it incredible for tallies, in a deep hole I can cartwheel it and when I’m running rivers I feel confident and fast. 

The Medium Ripper. The dust gathers on the cockit rim as it sits in between the favourite Ripper L and the fancy new Fire Cracker. The Medium Ripper is an incredible kayak but I can still get the large vertical easy enough and the extra volume makes river running much easier… Why then do I keep this kayak? Because every time I get in it I am shocked at what a weapon it is and the different skills I can use only in this kayak. It’s just a touch small for me to use with a camera bag and first aid kit in it on big chunky rivers. 

The Medium Fire Cracker. I was confident I wasn’t going to like it that much, all the way up until the first lap. Then I understood it for what it was, a kayaking motivational booster. There are days where the level isn’t that great but in the Fire Cracker I know I will have a good time and be able to find a way to challenge myself. The soft edges and extra width inspires confidence in less confident kayakers and it is ridiculously easy to tailie. This kayak makes me kayak more!

The Large Fire Cracker. This is a truly big kayak. I think it will be incredible for actually large sized kayakers for myself at my size it’s just too much boat to throw around and not think that you might throw one of your ribs out along with it. I find it pretty cool that it’s a genuinely big kayak for big people and has been scaled up well. I keep it in the fleet because I’m pretty sure I will hit the biggest loop ever in it when I eventually find the right hole to loop it in and it could be great to have the large version if I go back to Turkey again… Last years trip was at high water with the medium Fire Cracker and it was a touch sporty at times!

For now, on a medium low day on my local river, I’m taking the large Ripper. It’s cold and I don’t want to play that much but I still want to do a few tallies, surf some waves and hit all the lines really cleanly. When it warms up it will be time for the return of the Fire Cracker. 

Goodluck with your kayak choices, 

See you on the water, 



Pyranha Scorch X.

My first look at the Scorch as a base was through Instagram reels, as is the case for most of us. The instant thought about the boat’s behaviour was how it seemed to snake or slither between features, represented especially by the boaters paddling the Scorch.  When paddling the Scorch, you can imagine yourself in a video, catching a ribbon of flow, riding it, and gliding out.

Getting to use the Scorch X, I got the very same feeling… the boat glides. For a 10-foot boat, it is agile and manoeuvrable; you pick a line, and you get it. It feels like an extension of your movement on the water, whereas some boats may drag you offline, you feel comfortable that the X is heading where you want it to. The most unique thing about the X is its ability to carve and manoeuvre, although it’s a ‘long boat’; it’ll sit on a wave for hours, carve with ease, and then, once you’re done playing, it will throw down along the river, easily crossing eddy to eddy and picking up the bow over holes. The X has enough rocker to boof a house.

Most of my time boating has been in the Ozone; being a slice boat paddler 90% of the time, the expectation is that a big boat will be harder to paddle. Although the Scorch X has a gain in volume, it is not hard to move, still turning on a dime. The change is manageable, and it is a boat I expect to enjoy more with time.

I’ve had the opportunity to paddle the X on a high Dee, Ogwen, and the Llugwy’s Chip Shop Drop. The X, although capable on harder whitewater, can still excel on your local grade 3 rivers. It is playful in a hole but also forgiving and fast when you need it to be. Also, excelling on the technical moves of the Ogwen, quickly moving between features and has the speed to change lines quickly. On Chip Shop Drop, I found that the X absolutely soars if you put a big stroke in, gliding out straight after. The Scorch’s skip is a highlight of the boat, a feeling you look forward to.  I can’t wait to get it out on some more hard water.


‘Slightly’ White Water Kayaking Festive Paddle 2023

We’d organised Saturday’s Slightly Festive Paddle around 4 weeks ago. Around 15 paddlers met up for the paddle at TNR Outdoors; they’ve always been great supporters of the Slightly White Water paddling group.

We expected it to be cold, but not such high levels on the Dee! As it was a mixed group of abilities, we decided to get on at Carrog and paddle down to Horseshoe Falls. It was a nice, bouncy run down with some nice wave trains.

From Horseshoe Falls, some elected to paddle the river down to Mile End Mill, and others the canal, but we all met up for a prize giving for the most festive paddlers. Go Kayaking North Wales, based at Mile End Mill in Llangollen, kindly donated a Limited Edition Pyranha Christmas Jumper, as well as some Angry Fish Sponges as consolation prizes. It’s great to get support for grassroots events from a canoe and kayak shop like Go Kayaking.

Shellie Hughes won the jumper; she went the extra mile with a Christmas Tree Hat and a well-decorated boat.

We rounded out an overall great day with a lovely meal at the m’Eating Point in Llangollen town.

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