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Park Jam 2023: IRELAND!

The final leg of the Park Jam Tour was upon us. This time, Liam Jay and myself would be heading out to Ireland from Pyranha HQ on the Friday. Demo boats and flags loaded we set off for the drive to Holyhead with plenty of time to spare. Wanting to make sure the demo Firecrackers were up to scratch, it was rather important we checked them out with a quick run down the Afon Ogwen along the way. Making it to our ferry on time, we set sail for a taste of the dark, creamy pints of Dublin. Well, maybe more than just a taste.

Arriving bright and early to Canoe Centre, based on the river Liffey, we unloaded and set up ready for the day ahead. The water levels were pretty high and the normal play feature had washed out, so some river trips were organised instead. I thought it was going to be a bit of a float down, but I was pleasantly surprised. Multiple weirs and a guided tour from local superstar, Robbie O’Shea made for an excellent run. The Ripper 2s and Firecrackers came into their own, with epic tailie spots and the young senders throwing really cool tricks the whole way down. After a quick change, some great pizza and burgers, and maybe another pint of Dublin, we all settled in for a presentation and film from Bren.

Sunday morning led us west; just outside of Limerick is Castleconnel, home to the final stop of the Park Jam tour. The Shannon, which winds its way through beautiful countryside, brought the community together, and the strong Limerick Kayak Club and Limerick Kayaking Academy hosted a well-organised gathering. On the water, Pyranha and Palm’s team paddlers got involved to shred and share tips, tell stories, and make new friends. Once again, we had a talk from Bren for the final time at a local sports hall, and prizes were handed out to paddlers who came along and got involved.

As expected, from the moment we arrived, the Pyranha and Palm team were welcomed with open arms by the Irish paddling community. This is the first time Park Jam has made it over to Ireland, and I’m so glad to have been a part of it. The Irish community is so strong, and the young paddlers coming through are super talented. Liam, Bren, and myself began the journey back to Pyranha HQ in high spirits after reminiscing about a great weekend. We can’t wait until next time!


British Universities Kayaking Expedition 2024 – Selection Event

The British Universities Kayaking Expeditions have taken place every two years (with a break for COVID) since 2005. I’d like to say we’ve got running the biennial selection event for the team down to a fine art given we’ve had a decade or two to refine it, but that would be a lie. Every year it still seems as though we are winging it! No rain makes the weekend a lot more labour-intensive, so it was with enormous relief that this year the rain gods were smiling on us!

The selection process involves a round of paper applications assessed by previous expedition team members, followed by gathering 20 of the best applicants together in North Wales for a long weekend of boating and partying.

Pretam showing steeze on the Staircase rapid.
Pretam ‘warming up’ on staircase rapid of the middle Conwy.
📷: Barra Liddy

An early morning scouting mission by some of the old boys formed the plan for the Friday. A warm-up on the Middle Conwy, followed by a lap of the Lledr. The highlight of the day’s paddling from a carnage perspective was watching a variety of lines on the Gobbler rapid, which was particularly unforgiving of anyone who had opted to paddle a half-slice!

Gobbler rapid on the middle Conwy
Gobbler rapid on the middle Conwy
📷: Tim Burne
A less than ideal line down the gobbler. Red boat facing the sky!
Sometimes you play the river, other times, it is the river’s turn.
📷: Barra Liddy
Mincer rapid on the Lledr
Mincer rapid on the Lledr
📷: Dave Stack

Friday night was destination proposals night, with customarily withering feedback provided by the walking river encyclopedia that is Dave Manby. A great array of suggestions were made with a particular highlight being the Tajikistan proposal, which was hilariously backed up by a traditional Tajik dance.

The hilarious interpretation of traditional tajik dancing
Unique interpretation of traditional Tajik dancing
📷: Seamus Smith

Saturday dawned dry and foggy, but the infamous North Wales test piece, the Fairy Glen still had enough juice to be perfect for people to tick off some ‘personal’ first descents. None of the applicants had run the river previously, so we split them into groups and set them off to run this section, which has some notoriously difficult-to-scout rapids. Excellent expedition practice!

The first gorge on Fairy Glen, Conwy
The first gorge on Fairy Glen, Conwy
📷: Tim Burne
Fairy Falls on the Glen
Fairy Falls on the Glen
📷: Tim Burne
Flying off Fairy Falls
Sol getting some airtime off Fairy Falls
📷: Anne Ruyters
Dropping into the second gorge on Fairy Glen
Reece boofing his way into Fairy Glen’s second gorge.
📷: Anne Ruyters

After a slow but successful lap, the groups split, with some heading back up for a second (much faster) lap, and others heading to check out the nearby Glaslyn, which was also running well.

Breaker rapid during a Glaslyn Lap
📷: David Brearley

Saturday night saw a masterclass in scouting using Google Earth, following which “organised fun” descended into rowdy carnage until the early hours.

Ring of Fire

The vote for the 2024 British Universities Kayaking Expedition team took place on Sunday morning, with a worthy team of 7 being selected, followed by a relaxed lap of the river Dee for anyone who was still functioning after 3 nights with too much beer and too little sleep!

The 2024 BUKE Team
Huge congratulations to the 2024 British Universities Kayaking Expedition Team. (L to R: Osian Curig, Bryony Agar, Patrick Kyle, Alastair Shapland, Ellis Pimbrough-Jones, Oli Cooper, Matt Purvis)
Horseshoe Falls at the River Dee Put-in
Horseshoe Falls at the river Dee. Beautiful even when it’s grey and drizzly.
📷: Dave Stack

Watch the BUKE socials (Facebook/Insta) for an imminent announcement as to the destination for the 2024 expedition!


Park Jam 2023: Round Two

Wow, what an amazing first weekend of Park Jam we had! Round 2 was even better…

Mile End Mill

We arrived in Llangollen early to do a Team lap down the river before the main event started, it was awesome to see everyone crushing their way down the river!

Around midday, the main event kicked off we had an amazing turnout! Everyone headed to the get-in where there is a huge eddy for everyone to chat before throwing whatever moves they want down the river. For me, it is amazing to see so many people enjoying my local run as much as I do! 

It was so awesome to see so many young shredders on the water pushing themselves, jumping in the holes and styling their way out…

There was a few king of the waves, battling to stay on the longest, and of course, some carnage!

The main challenge of the day was an old-school challenge to throw the best move in one of Dave Manby’s old kayaks; this thing is a beast, it’s around 12 feet long and made out of fibreglass with a steel footrest, it was great to see everyone giving it ago!

After a great afternoon paddling, everyone headed up to watch Bren’s new film, talks, and prizes!

Tees Barrage

This was my first experience going to the Barrage; it is a great little set-up, with a little shop and a great course!

Around 10.30 am, the water turned on and paddlers started to float down to the top of the course! The small features here are super nice for everyone; we had paddlers with a great range of experience and everyone seemed to love it!

Although throughout the night we had some biblical rain, the turnout was fantastic and we had loads of locals smashing lines! Everybody encouraging each other to try new things…

The first few features were a little shallow to throw some moves, but halfway down the course was an amazing hole where everyone was getting involved, working on new moves, or trying their first side surf!

We had demos available at the event and they were flying out; it was great to see people trying a few kayaks, narrowing down their options, and seeing where they wanted to take their paddling!

Around 2 pm, the water shut off, the paddlers got changed, and everyone headed in to watch the film, talks, and prizes!

Pinkston Watersports!

The day started off with a leisurely paddle down the River Kelvin, which is an urban ditch that goes through the middle of Glasgow, which was an experience! Shopping trolleys and toy unicorns were the highlights…

The evening kicked off with a mighty BBQ, music, and a bunch of stoked paddlers. Even though it was cold in Glasgow, the boaters didn’t hesitate to jump straight in and start shredding.

Everyone was buzzing to be throwing moves and trying new ones; it’s an awesome little course with an amazing atmosphere, which just makes this place special. The evening passed by, then came the pump challenge, where you side surf into the pumps and style your way out. This hole is super sticky, but it was great to see so many people giving it a go! The evening ended in a mass tubing session down the course, which was absolute carnage, but we loved it!

After the prizes, talk, and films, it was a wrap for this weekend. We are super grateful for everyone who came and helped out, and we are looking forward to seeing you in Ireland!

Parmhole, Dublin – 4th of November

Castleconnell, Limerick – 5th of November

Thanks for reading!
Daniel Jones

Photos: Aaron Kendall, Tom Clare


Park Jam 2023: Round One

By the Scottish Crew: Rowan Andrew, Taylor Stevenson, Kyle Rodger, and Niamh Shannon

Lee Valley Whitewater Centre

Driving from Glasgow to Lee Valley was a mission, but the crew were super stoked to arrive at the centre as it was all new to us, and we were impressed with the scale and scope of the place.

As it was our first time, we had to sit our competency assessment. We were introduced to George, our assessor, who quickly after the assessment joined us for our first laps on the Olympic course with the Palm and Pyranha Team.

It was a very busy session on the water with rafts and kayakers flooding the course and carnage at every corner. However, that did not stop everyone from laying down some awesome tricks. It added a certain level of adrenaline knowing if you fall off a wave or are not paying attention you would be slammed by a raft.

As always, Bren was smiling and giving out advice on the water as well as teasing future plastic Pyranha has to offer.

📷: Dolly Brown

We had an hour to shred on the Olympic course before we moved on to the well-anticipated Park Jam on the flood-lit Legacy course. There was a lot of hype for this session, and watching everyone make their way onto the water and up the conveyor belt only added to the stoke and excitement.

Everyone sessioned on the top hole, where there were many aerial tricks thrown, before making their way down the course, stopping at all the features for a play. Barra, Vitamin T (Niamh, Taylor, and Rowan), and the rest of the Pyranha Team would sit at the bottom of the course bringing the hype and allowing the participants to use the demo boats on offer.

The Pyranha Firecracker seemed to be a favourite of the night, and everyone was super stoked to see the new 2024 colourways, Rosella Red & Cotinga Blue. To finish off the night, Bren showed off his new, sick edit, and there was a prize-giving for those who shredded on the water that night.

Northampton Active Whitewater Centre

We kicked off the morning with a team paddle at Hurley. As we are Scottish and have primarily paddled in Scotland, this was a spot we had heard a lot about but never paddled, so we were pretty stoked to be able to fit it in this weekend. It did not disappoint.

We sessioned the wave for a couple of hours before receiving a phone call to say that sadly the water quality was too low to paddle at Nene, but even with the paddling being cancelled, there was still a keen group of local paddlers excited to meet up with Bren and catch a sneak peek of his latest edit, so the Pyranha and Palm team headed to the centre to deliver some talks, films, activities, and prizes.

Heidi Walsh started the party by telling us all about her inspiring and eventful trip down the Humla Karnali in Nepal. Joe Rea Dickins followed up with some beautiful surfing shots from our very own Scotland (whoop whoop), documenting the recent monster-sized Tay-bezi which highlights just how great Scotland is when Scotland does what it does best and RAINS.

We followed up with a little “Who can get kitted up the quickest?” competition, and brave young Marcus and Noah went head-to-head for the chance to win some prizes! Finally, to finish off the Park Jam, Bren told us all about the recent adventures and gave the group a preview of his soon-to-be-released shredit.

Cardiff International Whitewater Centre

Cardiff was one of the centres that we were most eager to visit. Although none of us had been before, our friends had, so we had heard quite a bit about it. Still, that didn’t prepare us for just how cool this place was.

Vitamin T does CIWW

The first thing that catches your attention about the centre is just how beautiful it is. The fact that it was based by the water is something that was quite special and made you forget for a bit that you were paddling somewhere artificial.

That thought was soon overtaken, and our lasting impression was one of the people we had met. This Park Jam was a really fun experience for us all and that was down to all the interactions we had with folk.

One memory that demonstrates the love they have for the sport and just how eager they were was a little boy who missed the first half of the event because he was at his friend’s birthday party. When he discovered that he could take part in the second half and had the opportunity to go in the Pyranha Duo with Bren, he jumped at the chance and wasted no time in finding his paddling kit and getting ready. This encouraged a lot of others to do the same.

As soon as one person hopped out of the kayak another person was lined up ready to get in. This stoke to be on the water was carried by everyone right up until the last second when the pumps were switched off and the only option was to get off. Overall, we left inspired by the dedication of the people and the willingness to get in amongst it and try something new. 

It was an absolute pleasure to join Bren, team Palm, and the other Pyranha paddlers on the first leg of the Park Jam, and we’re looking forward to heading back down to Wales to start the second half of the tour on the mighty river Dee, followed by Tees Barrage, and finishing off at our home run, Pinkston Watersports. Find more info on the event pages below, and come join us!


Mile End Mill, Llangollen – 28th of October

Tees Barrage, Stockton-on-Tees – 29th of October

Pinkston Watersports, Glasgow – 30th of October


Parmhole, Dublin – 4th of November

Castleconnell, Limerick – 5th of November

See you there!
The Scots


Sal’s Firecracker 232 Review

(Also known as, ‘The Smiler’)

Photo: Turnip Towers

So, for anyone reading this who doesn’t know me too well, me and my life are basically chaos… but in a good way, most of the time! I’ve been working in a different country every couple of weeks, continually swapping between packing and unpacking, and trying to squeeze all the ‘normal’ life stuff (and UK paddling) in between. This summer has been particularly jam-packed and any time back in the UK has become way more valuable (and brief!)

You might wonder why I’m babbling on about this -isn’t this a boat review after all?! I’m getting there, I promise. 

Arriving home after 5 weeks in Europe, I excitedly packed for a few days in North Wales. With it being British summertime, the rivers were dry, however, the trusty dam-released river Tryweryn was due to be in flow. I had space for one kayak only. I’d not long had my new Firecracker 232, and I was desperate to get her on some moving water and have a proper play. However, I’d also agreed to coach river skills at the #ShePaddles Festival. Would it be irresponsible to try and teach river skills in a playboat? And what if I needed to carry out rescues? Would I manage them in this little boat? Fun-versus-sensible pulled me back and forth. I vented my predicament to Andy Butler (Product Manager at Pyranha Kayaks), who of course told me to take the new boat. I felt like a kid that had been given permission to go out and play! So, me and my new fun machine headed west.

And boyyyy was I glad that we did! 

I’d assumed the Firecracker was an all-out river-play boat, but it turns out that she also really loves river running! During the coaching weekend, I was surprised at how well she boofed, cut into micro-eddies, and basically made all the moves that I’d usually make in my bigger boat. And that included rescues too, whether I was chasing or towing a swamped boat, I never felt out of control or unable to get myself where I needed to be to deal with the situation. 

And of course, with the added fun factor of a boat that loves to surf, play and get vertical! 

Photo: Kay Powell

After the coaching weekend, I spent my remaining few days playing around with friends on the Tryweryn and the few local rivers with water in. I honestly don’t think I stopped grinning. Being away with work so much lately, I hadn’t had a lot of time to get to know my new boat, but I was already sure that we were going to get along well! Stable and smooth, I felt like I could surf waves for days. I’ve never been very good at tailees, but with the Firecracker I was getting way more success than in any other boat I’ve tried. I still fell on my face a good amount, but always rolled back up with a big smile, ready to go again.

Photo: Turnip Towers

Since the North Wales trip, I’ve been in and out of the country frequently (sometimes for several weeks at a time), however, it’s felt pretty easy each time to jump back in my boat and get stuck in again. I’ve also been rehabbing an injury, and having a smaller boat that I can move around easily has really helped, as well as meant an earlier return to the water. 

Being a smaller and shorter boat (232cm to be exact), has also meant that it’s way easier to travel with. She fits inside my vehicle, which works perfectly for any last-minute decisions to hit the river or head to the best paddling spots!

There have been many sessions at my nearest training ground, Holme Pierre Pont Whitewater Park. Here me and my Firecracker have been playing around in the more hole-like features, trying out mostly loops, cartwheels, and spins. There are also lots of great boiley eddilines for trying tailees!

We’ve returned to the Tryweryn a few times, each trip being as fun as the last. I haven’t even contemplated swapping the Firecracker out for a different boat -why would I when this one is so much fun? The Firecracker basically lives in my vehicle now (when I’m not paddling it, that is!).

Photo: Turnip Towers

And most recently, I travelled down to Lee Valley Whitewater Park, which is steeper, faster and more powerful than most of our whitewater courses here in the UK. Other than the odd wobble on a couple of eddilines when I first got on, I felt really good! The Firecracker loved the steepness and speed of the water, charging through breaking waves, boofing pour-overs, and gliding over boils into swirling eddies. The waves were faster than any others that I’d surfed recently, but it didn’t take long to learn to just relax and let the boat do her thing!

All in all, I love this boat -she’s fun, loves to both run the river and play around, her shorter tail means extra play and tailies galore, and you can literally surf all day long. Oh, and she’s super easy to travel with -I’m convinced that I could travel with her on the train, and no doubt flying with her internationally will be easier too. The perfect, year-round fun machine! Thanks for another awesome design, Pyranha!

Photo: Turnip Towers


Tryweryn Festival 2023

Location: National Whitewater Centre, Bala

Date: 21st – 23rd July 2023

The Tryweryn Festival is an exciting fun-filled event, located in Bala at The National Whitewater Centre. This awesome event is jam-packed full of events, from heart racing competitions to chilled events for everyone to have fun. The weather wasn’t the best for July, but even with river levels rising across Wales, there was still a great turnout!

On Saturday morning I was up and ready, heading down to the centre to sign up for the NRS Mass Start Race, where 40 men and 27 women battle their way down the river for 3-4 minutes through rapids until they reach the finish.

The first 27 men and 13 women continue onto the next round of extreme boater cross which is a shorter section starting from a ramp standing 15ft tall. Once they launch, they catch eddies and pass through rocks and holes whilst racing in threes to the finish line where the winner of each heat passes through to the final. It was amazing to see so many people with massive smiles on their faces, racing their friends and really pushing themselves.

In the afternoon, Radical Rider hosted their event Retro Rodeo, which is on the most popular wave on the river, right outside the cafe! This event is all about who can stay on the wave the longest while pulling off some cool moves and battling to stay on the wave the longest. The crowd’s favourite move must have been the “Banana Man”, where one of the young local shredders, Reece Marsden, pulled a banana out of his PFD and ate it whilst surfing on the wave the crowd went literally bananas! The atmosphere around the wave is something special, and there were all sorts of cool demo boats to try for this event!

The next event isn’t for the faint-hearted; the Palm Equipment enduro is a race from the top of ‘Graveyard’ where paddlers race to the bottom, jump out of their boat and run/walk back to the top. They have 30 minutes to get as many laps as they can whilst trying to conserve energy for the run back up. It was very impressive to watch.

The winning number of laps this year was 7.5 which is super impressive and very hard-going, dodging rafts and kayaks on the way down and swerving spectators on the run back up.

Pyranha Kayaks’ event this year was “Play The River.” This was located at the top of the ‘Graveyard’ rapid where the river’s deepest eddy line is. There were demos including the Firecracker, Ozone, and Ripper 2 for anyone to use. We had a massive range of paddlers just enjoying themselves doing moves they were comfortable with, and some recklessly vertical shredders throwing some awesome combos, which was also great to see. There was a wide range of prizes for everyone involved if they did something cool or were keen to try new things. It was fantastic to see so many people with smiles on their faces cheering everyone on! Thank you to everyone involved.

After a long day’s paddling, the dam shut off, the river level dropped and everyone got party-ready. Food was served in the tent just before prize giving for each individual event! The night ended with a live band and a party!

Sunday started off with a few laps of the river with a great bunch of paddlers throwing fun moves and trying new ones! It was amazing to see so many people demoing boats over the weekend, I even managed to take a few out for a spin. My favourite had to be the Scorch X, the rocker and length of this boat is just something else, the initial skip off the ramp was insane there was no drag I just skimmed. It boofs so easily and high that I don’t think I got a drop of water on me!

Around lunch time we headed to the top site for the Beginners Boater X which was hosted by Pyranha. This event was for the paddlers who are just starting off or just in it for a bit of fun with a less competitive vibe. This race was from the chipper to the top eddy of ‘Graveyard’; it had eddies to catch and a tiki mask to throw your paddle through for more fun. We had twelve participants overall four in each heat all laughing their way down!

This was the last event I went to over the weekend but there were plenty more! It was fantastic to see so many faces, old and new on the water over this amazing weekend.

I just want to say a massive thank you to all involved! Hopefully see you all on the water soon.

Daniel Jones


California Dreaming 2

I grew up watching Demshitz shred in their Pyranha Kayaks. To be invited on tour with them was the biggest, best, luckiest break in my career. I grew up watching their videos and seeing the photos, and although just getting to kayak with them was incredible, I always dreamed of kayaking with them in California where I had watched so many videos of them shredding. Unfortunately, with the seasons, climate change, and poor snow packs, we never got the chance to go in my three summers on tour. We did do lots of kayaking in different places though, and I learned a lot; coming to the Royal Gorge for the first time this year I felt like I was putting together all of the things that I had learned from Demshitz over the years:

1) Just go.

So many times on tour, we would drive to a river late in the day and still make it happen. Obviously, you want to give yourself enough time out there, but don’t think that you can’t make it happen or that you can’t get it done in less time if you need to get it done in less time. Lots of people were sending me their predictions for water levels, but when Dane and Jared Seiler told me Royal was coming in, I turned and burned and got on the plane to try and catch it. For fear of the flows dropping, myself and Dane decided to do the Royal Gorge in one day; 45 miles and 5 sick waterfalls. 

2) You don’t have to be serious to do serious things.

I always loved that about Demshitz; always chilled out, always funny. It really transforms the situations, and I’m happy that myself and Dane cracked jokes at every opportunity. “Selfie of me above Scott’s Drop”. Stoked to be there!

3) Safety.

Demshitz were always on it with safety when I was on tour, and one time, Dave Fusilli saved my life. Obviously, there’s a lot to White Water Safety and Rescue, but one of the most important things I learned from Demshitz was to move fast, work as a team, and get hands on the person that needs help. Oh, and if you’re the person in trouble, ‘just stay calm yinz”.  With just myself and Dane running as a ‘gruesome-twosome’ crew, we would have to work together if anything happened, but I felt confident we could make it work if needs be. I also knew from an old DS / EG Creeking blog post which way to hike out from the first set of waterfalls if anything happened. 

4) Kayaking off waterfalls.

It’s a dark art to the sport; you have to do so much to do so little, and the only real way to learn is to go over the edge of one. Dave Fusilli especially spent so much time breaking down techniques and helping me to understand them. I felt like I utilised all of them down the five waterfalls of the Royal Gorge. 

5) Food is for rich people.

Often times on tour, we would be hungry, mostly because we were terrible at planning ahead for anything other than kayaking and occasional kayak dealer visits. Food shopping was never high on the list of things to do, it was more of a bonus thing that occasionally happened. Thankfully, there was always beer in the warm cooler without ice because DS had a beer sponsorship at the time… Anyway, I really learned how to deal with being hungry on the water. Myself and Dane were pushing hard to get to the bottom of all the waterfalls before we stopped for lunch, and I was hungry as a “Manger”* by the third waterfall, but kept going.

*A “Manger” is a very stout, very hairy member of the Demshitz crew that is prone to getting “hangry”. 

6) Get the camera out.

Some people love it and some people hate it. There are definitely days where I can’t be bothered, but most of the time I love having a camera around in a sick location. I genuinely love using a camera, and creating memories from these moments we only get to live a few times in our lives. Jared Seiler sent me a bunch of photos from a Demshitz trip down the Royal Gorge and they are all so rad to me!

7) Be ridiculous and love everything.

Around 10 hours into our mission of a day, I thought the takeout was right around the corner. Dane then proceeded to tell me it was still over an hour to the takeout. I started joking that we had missed the takeout and were going to kayak the river into the ocean and be able to take a nap on the beach. I had the Beach Boys album in my head, and it really helped to take the edge off how sore and tired I was at this point. The “love everything” comes from Demshitz accepting anyone and everyone and being such an open, friendly crew; it took me a while, but I think I’m getting there and can proudly say that I am vaguely fond of hanging out with Dane Jackson, at times, a little bit, not really.

We finished that day 45-mile day in 11 hours and drank a beer at the takeout. A true Demshitz day out to lunch. Hoping to catch up with the DS crew either in California this season or at some point on the water soon! Cheers for everything team!



Firecracker vs. Ripper 2

I was given an amazing opportunity by Pyranha to compare the new Firecracker 232 to the incredible Pyranha Ripper 2. Usually, I don’t get used to a boat quickly, but I had no problem getting used to the small Firecracker, from being able to throw big loops in it on the Dee, to technical and bigger gradients on the Wnion.

I’m first going to compare their river running abilities and note I come from freestyle, so I love more playful kayaks.

The first thing I noticed between the two is how easy it is to lift the Firecracker’s nose up to boof over drops and holes. I could easily do side boofs and lean boofs to lift the front up in the Firecracker.

Although the Firecracker is a small half slice, there is plenty of volume in the front to go creeking in it, as I did on the Wnion – this also helps when going through holes on less committing runs, like the Tryweryn. One thing I noticed about how they were river running was that in the Firecracker, you had to go in with more speed, and as soon as the front was lifted over the hole, leaning forwards made it easily skip out so it didn’t go too vertical, whereas with Ripper 2, the extra length meant it could carry more speed in and out of the feature. The skip out in the two boats was just as good as each other but the Ripper 2 would carry the skip for longer.

Now let’s talk about the playfulness of the two kayaks, and neither will disappoint; they both bring lots of joy and smiles to your face on your local simple play runs to steep creeks.

Tailys – these two boats are incredible at this, and the Ripper 2 is already well known for this. The Firecracker paddles very similarly to a freestyle kayak, so when you go to taily it, you can just snap it up on a gentle eddy line as you would do in a freestyle kayak, whereas the Ripper 2 is more a slalom style of paddling and takes a different style to get up, where you don’t snap it up, you continuously lift it up gently. Once the Ripper 2 is up, it’s easy to get a bunch of pirouettes in a row before the boat drops, whereas the Firecracker is easier to balance statically on the stern.

Finally, I am going to talk about the freestyle capabilities of the Firecracker. I was lucky enough to do multiple Dee play runs in the Firecracker at great levels, and I saw Aaron Kendall loop a Firecracker on Instagram, so that gave me a great idea to try it. Luckily the Dee was on an 8, so it wasn’t high but was just deep enough to attempt them.

The Firecracker has a great amount of volume in the front, and if you slam it in to plug and keep it dead straight, it just goes under and pops your stern into the air with great height. I managed to throw for a loop and land it multiple times in Tombstones and the middle hole at Mile End Mill on the Dee.

Personally, I would go for the Firecracker as it’s great fun, and I love to challenge myself with river running. I also love how comfy it is for a playful kayak, with an amazing knee position; I can even wear creek shoes, which is a big plus for such a playful boat! I hope this has helped, and I 100% recommend demoing both of them as soon as you have the chance.


King of the Alps 2023

At the beginning of June every year, the quiet mountain village Moos in Passeier comes alive as the best kayakers from across to globe come to compete for King and Queen of the Alps

This year in the 11th annual year was particularly special for the organisers Caz, Thomas, Daniel, and Pia, with AWP awarding the event the title of Extreme Kayak World Championship. 

The Pyranha van arrived early in the week at our final stop of the tour with the fleet of demos for the event. With over 250 event participants from 25 nations, it was stacking up to be a highly competitive weekend of racing. From early on in the week athletes were training hard on both the qualification section which was lower down the valley in San Leonardo and the finals course situated in Moos featuring the famous Intimidator rapid, a steep class 5 with a waterfall entering from the right. 

📷: Josh Dias-Smith

Thursday night was the first official get-together with registration/ bib collection, boat check and safety briefing. Nerves were beginning to grow with anticipation for the qualification day so as to be expected it was a quiet night in camp. 

An early start on Friday, paddlers arrived for qualification from 8 am to begin warming up on the San Leonardo section. The 700m class 3+ would separate the top 60 men, top 10 women and 10 masters. This would also be the final standings for the junior category, OC1 and pack rafters. In the evening paddlers came together to tell stories and chat about their race runs. A race brief for finalists was given and those who were unfortunate not to make the highly competitive cut-off got the weekend going in style by competing in the fun king triathlon. 

Saturday is World Championship Finals Day! The most anticipated day of the year for extreme whitewater racers. 80 kayakers in total took to the water, Pyranha team paddlers Nicolas Caussanel, Jonas Le Morvan, and Lyndon Williams all made the cut in the first round to advance to the Semi-finals in the extremely competitive men’s category. From here 5 masters and 5 Women advanced to the finals and 15 men. The pressure was on to deliver 1 last run, at this point spectators and everyone watching the live stream was fully engrossed. The biggest stage was set. The commentary from Caz and Tim got the well-oiled crowd fired up and the final kayakers put on a fine showcase of our wonderful sport. 

Men’s Open

1st – Zach Mutton

2nd – George Snook

3rd – Mattias Weger

4th – Andi Brunner

5th – Nico Caussanel


1st – Nouria Newman

2nd – River Mutton

3rd – Marlene Devillez

4th – Laura Hofberger

5th – Flurina Fischer

The only thing left to do is what whitewater kayakers do best and throw the best parties and delicately pack up the following day. We will 100% see you next year King of the Alps. Thanks for making one of the most inclusive and special race events of the year!  


Valsesia River Festival 2023

Following the MisoXperience festival in Switzerland, the Pyranha van moved south to the Italian Alps to the region of Valsesia.

Valsesia has been a staple spring location for British kayakers for ages. However, the number of Brits making the pilgrimage south has been dwindling in recent years. Whether this is due to the small snowpack or the inability of British coaches to take groups out there following Covid, it is a shame not to be sharing the river with big groups of Brits anymore. 

Those who did take a gamble on the water levels this year were definitely rewarded. Strong sunshine and humidity caused heavy thunderstorms to roll through the valley every afternoon, which kept the rivers at great flows. The kayaking in the valley really is incredible when levels are good. 

The team took full advantage of the flows and jumped straight on the water. Lyndon was lucky to smash out laps on classic sections of the Sermenza, Egua, and Sesia in the 2 days before he headed back to the UK for a wedding. He was replaced by Pyranha’s UK Sales Manager, Liam Jay, who arrived fresh-faced and stoked to be on his first whitewater kayaking trip outside of the UK. He wasted no time and made sure to sample everything Valsesia has to offer – from the big volume feel of the “Little Canada” rapid to the Sorba Slides, which is the kayaking equivalent of a skate park and never fails to bring a smile to your face!

The Valsesia River Festival was a success, as ever. This year there were a few additions to the programme, and it was great to see the festival progress and bring in some of the local businesses. Alpin Rider Centre, run by Jacques Gilardone, hosted a party paddle to practice the course on Friday night. This was followed by food, drinks, and music at their bar, which is perfectly situated at the take-out for the race section (called the Alpine Sprint). 

On Saturday, it was business as usual, with teams of 3 heading up to the put-in for the Alpine Sprint, ready for the team race in the morning. After lunch, everyone headed back up to the put-in for the individual race. The water level was medium/high for the section, which sadly reduced the number of participants this year, but made the course pretty exciting. The long race takes around 10-12 minutes on a super continuous, alpine-style grade 3/4 section, so pacing is important to make sure you can complete the race safely and efficiently! The higher water levels also made it more difficult to stay high and dry throughout the whole course, and if you took a wave to the chest, it killed your speed and meant a battle to regain your flow. It was certainly challenging to go fast the whole time. 

I found fellow Brits Tamsyn and Dave on Saturday morning. They had arrived in Valsesia in the early hours of the morning following a hell journey to get there. However, Tamsyn seemed keen to celebrate her birthday by racing down a section of river she had never seen before. She dragged Dave out of bed, and the three of us formed a team. We used the team race as an opportunity to see the river and learn the lines, so we didn’t go particularly fast, but it gave Tamsyn the opportunity to see the course and race in the individual category in the afternoon. I felt like I took a lot of waves to the chest in the individual race, and constantly had to fight to get my speed back. At the end of the race, the participants unanimously voted not to hold a final, given that the number of participants was low, the water levels were primo, and everyone would rather spend the afternoon kayaking with their friends. I headed off to the Sermenza to kayak on a couple of my favourite sections. 

Despite my misgivings, I still managed to put down a good time and take the win in the women’s category. As always, the party went hard, and everyone danced their way through to the early hours of the morning. 

On Sunday, River Soul hosted a Pyranha Kayaks demo event with live music, great food on the grill, and a raffle with plenty of prizes to give away. Hosts Max and Silvia were enthusiastic and friendly and helped encourage many local paddlers to try out our favourite designs. The Scorch X was a particular hit with several kayakers who had originally written it off as being “too big”. After being convinced that it paddled similarly to a medium boat, they gave it a shot and came back raving about how much fun they had. The day was a great success and, luckily, had just wrapped up before the heavens opened and a big hail storm passed through the valley! 

Overall, it was a great week in the Valsesia Valley. With good water levels, this area really is world-class!

Lead image by Lyndon Williams, all others by Frederica Fritz.

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