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01
Jul

A Few Words on the Scorch

I’ll be honest, I was hoping to give you glorious 4k video footage of this kayak design in action and let it speak for itself, but with the current issues in the world, I haven’t had much luck so far in being able to travel to places that will allow me to show this kayak off in all its glory. Instead, please enjoy a few words on the Scorch instead.

In short, this kayak is bloody brilliant!

The end.

Ok, here it is in a few more words…

The Scorch is a blend of proven design features from Pyranha that have been taken and developed with a new image of what a kayak in this category should perform like, and once again, the Pyranha design team have changed the game.

The nose takes its design cues from the 9R series, riding high over everything. This not only makes it easier to manage on rapids and link up multiple moves as the Scorch dismisses all of the small guarding waves before bigger moves, but it also just plain feels good to have such a smooth, dry ride down the river.

Even in the initial renders, I was really happy with the shape the tail of the Scorch was taking; lessons had been learned from the 9R II prototype redesign. In order for the nose to come up, the tail has to go down. The Scorch’s tail comes to a small, fine point, that in addition to the kick rocker, allows the nose of the kayak to be pulled up on boofs easier than should ever be possible for a kayak this size. This is ideal for more advanced kayakers and equally so much better for beginners and intermediates looking to learn how to boof. Gone also are the days of stern tapping in the 9R II; the kick rocker gets rid of that issue and the shape of the tail is arguably a stronger shape if you do end up hitting rocks with it.

The hull shape allows the Scorch to glide around the river and this is perhaps my favourite feature of the kayak, it moves better than any creekboat or river runner I have ever used.

Volume distribution and rocker leave me feeling confident as I sit in the kayak and look down the nose of it above a big rapid, but you can read more about the design features of the Scorch on the Pyranha website.

My real world experience of the Scorch has been as follows:

The large has given me the confidence to take on rivers at higher levels, and especially on the Middle Oetz at high water, the Scorch has changed that river for me. I have so much more control in amongst the chaos, I can look so far ahead down rapids and I am so much more comfortable out there. Previously I would do one lap a day of this river at high water and reach the takeout relieved and very tired. I am still grateful to be safe at the bottom of each lap but the difference now is that I have the energy to go back up for another lap or even two because the Scorch allows me to save so much energy simply by how well it moves down the river. Flying over waves, mobbing over holes and not letting any of the confused, chaotic water that used to make this run feel so difficult get on top of the kayak. I love the Scorch Large for big rapids and I think it is going to allow me to progress a lot over the coming years using this design, both in terms of what lines I do and how stylishly I do them.

While the Large is my weapon of choice on big, pushy water, I was at times left wanting something sportier on easier runs which is where the Medium Scorch comes in. I simply love this kayak, it’s so light, sporty and nimble on the river, with still just enough volume to carry me over bigger holes. It does feel a little bit small for myself at 75kg to be using it on bigger water, but on normal creeks or rivers this thing is a weapon. My second day in it I had it on a waterfall run in Austria and I can honestly say I have never smiled as much down a river as I flew with my nose so high down the drops and whipped into the micro eddies above and below them.

I size up and down the Ripper range based on what I am doing, with the large being used on harder rivers and the small being great fun for me on white water parks, and I think something similar will happen for me with the Scorch range. The medium will be my go-to that will feel a touch small on bigger water at times and the large will be my weapon of choice on pushy water, bigger rapids and multi-days. The 10ft Scorch X is Dave Fusilli’s brainchild, and I think it will open up a whole new dimension on the river, with the Scorch Small finally give smaller kayakers a high-performance design in their size.

My only criticism is that Pyranha has once again made it impossible for me to have just one size of a design, and I will likely be left ordering at least three of the Scorch sizes to have in my fleet. It’s really valuable for me to be able to adjust my kayak to the river I am using it on, and I am always experimenting to find the best combination. My current recommendation for anyone around the 75kg mark would be to go for the Scorch Medium for an incredibly agile, high-performance ride down the river, and to go for the Scorch Large if you want to have a creekboat that will allow you to feel confident on any rapid that still moves and engages with the water beautifully.

Looking forward to bringing you that glorious 4k footage of the Scorch soon (levels and travel restrictions permitting)!

Catch you on the water, probably in my medium Scorch, unless it’s a really big day… in which case I will catch you in my large.

Bren

15
Jun

Business as Unusual

It has been a challenging year, but there are positives to be found, not least a wider appreciation for the great outdoors. We are eternally grateful to the staggering number of people who have given the clouds a silver lining for us by choosing to find an escape in a Venture, P&H, or Pyranha canoe or kayak.

Right now, our whole team is focused on ensuring we can meet this overwhelming demand, but we must ask your mindfulness and understanding of the challenges we face, and the steps we have taken to manage those.

Custom Orders Suspended

To avoid simply unacceptable lead times and reduce the impact of their increased complexity on our production, we have been forced to pause our custom colour program for the time being. It will be reinstated as soon as it is possible for us to fulfil custom orders in a reasonable timescale again, but we do not currently have an estimation of when this might be.

Stock Availability

Following the initial interruptions of early lockdowns, we have been working at full capacity over the last 12 months to both catch up and meet the surging demand; a highly unusual situation, as demand would usually drop with the temperature over the winter months, and we would slow production as a result.

We have trained additional staff, reconfigured machinery, and re-organised processes to increase the number of boats we can produce in any given week, but at some point, we must give ourselves a break and go paddling. The pandemic is sadly also not yet over, and occasionally some of us have had to isolate to protect our colleagues and the wider community.

Our lead times are currently therefore longer than usual, but comparatively bearable in relation to the industry as a whole; if you’re considering a purchase, our recommendation to avoid disappointment is to contact your nearest dealers early to find out what stock they have available or incoming:

Pyranha Dealers | P&H Dealers | Venture Dealers

Shipping Delays

We are not alone amongst the many industries which are experiencing exponential increases in demand and significant backlogs resulting from lockdowns, and the global shipping network is seeing the compounded effects of this as they attempt to handle the resultant increased movement of materials and goods, whilst having to manage the same Covid-related impacts and restrictions themselves.

Of course, Brexit and the Suez Canal blockage could not have been more inconveniently timed, but we are now seeing the dust settle on these challenges. Unfortunately, shipping costs, durations, and complexities overall have not settled down, and reliability is not yet 100%.

We will do everything in our power to get product to you on time, but due to this unpredictability, we will unfortunately be unable to guarantee lead times or delivery dates for the foreseeable future. Similar to availability, please be sure to plan ahead, confirm your order with a dealer as soon as possible, and keep in contact with them for any updates as we will ensure they have the same information we do.

R&D Continues

One constant is our enthusiasm for driving canoe and kayak design forwards and in turn, progressing the sport; although some of our R&D team have been helping out in other areas of production from time to time, work on upcoming models has continued, and we’re now approaching final production on Scorch X and Scorch Small in the Pyranha Whitewater range, as well as the Leo MV in the P&H Sea Kayaks range. Contact your local dealer now if you’d like to secure yours with a pre-order:

Pyranha Dealers | P&H Dealers | Venture Dealers

Thank you, and happy paddling! We cannot wait to see you out on the water!

26
May

Getting Back on the River

Guess what? Something incredibly exciting just happened….. I got to go kayakinggggggg!!!! 

This winter has been the longest time I have EVER been without kayaking. Minus 25°C isn’t exactly the ideal conditions to be out in, not to mention that the rivers were frozen solid. So when I got to go kayaking the other day, it was the most excited I have been in a long time. I felt rusty, I felt weak, I felt like I had forgotten how to boof, but honestly, it did not matter one bit. 

I know that a lot of people are in a similar boat to me. Whether due to the winter season or due to covid rules and lockdowns preventing their kayaking trips, there are many people shaking the dust out of their gear and the rust off their bodies to get back on the water.

For me, it has been weird having so much time off and it has been a bit of a learning curve starting up again. So, I decided to write down some of my lessons into my 5 top tips for getting back on the water. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a few things to have a think about.

1. Warm up properly

You all know the story – you get to the put-in, maybe it’s raining, maybe it’s cold, maybe you’re late, or maybe you’re just too excited to be kayaking again. For whatever reason, you rush to get changed and jump straight onto the water. 

It really doesn’t matter if you’ve got corona-fit or corona-fat over the winter, the muscles you will be using on the water are different to the ones you may have worked in other ways. You need to make sure you look after these muscles and don’t overdo it straight away. The last thing you want is for your season-opener to also be your season-closer (take it from me – I twinged my shoulder on my first trip down my local run. Just as I could kayak every day again I had to take some time off).

So, a good warm-up is key. Use dynamic stretches and movements to activate your muscles and some star jumps (jumping jacks for all you Americans) to bump up your heart rate. Also, don’t only focus on your shoulders! Make sure you get those ankles, legs, hips, wrists, and neck feeling nice and warm before you put on. 

Shuttle time = warm up time. Don’t forget those hip circles to warm up your hips and lower back.

2. Stretch afterwards

For the same reasons as above, make sure you take some time to stretch those tired muscles once you’ve finished to stop yourself waking up sore the next day! If you’re lucky enough to not be the shuttle driver then the shuttle time is the perfect opportunity for your warm-up and stretches. If you are the shuttle driver, then just make sure you find a time. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

3. Take a step back

Whether you were just starting to get into kayaking or the next hot-shot class 5 boater, no one will come back from months out of a boat and be exactly where they were before. You must have heard the expression “off-the-couch”? Well, if you haven’t paddled in months then that is taking “off-the-couch” to a whole new level. And yes, some people are off-the-couch class 5 kayakers, but they still are not as good and as solid as they are when they’re kayaking regularly. There really is nothing like time in a boat for your ability and confidence. 

So, my advice is to take a step back. Start easy. Try making hard moves on low consequence rivers and build yourself back up from there. What is “hard” and what is “easy” will vary from person to person, so just be honest with yourself and, most importantly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else!

Epic scenery and chill whitewater is an ideal combo for a return to kayaking.

4. Focus on form

We’ve all got those bad habits that we need to shake. The problem is that when we kayak all the time, they are so ingrained into our muscle memory that it is incredibly difficult to change how we paddle, especially when paddling under pressure. Whether you lean back too much when you boof, bring your head up first when you roll, or don’t rotate your core enough, our guilty secret of bad technique will haunt us every time we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. But, after a long time off the water, your muscle memory will not be as sharp as it normally is and that is the perfect opportunity to make the changes that you need to take your paddling to the next level. 

This is also another good reason for taking a step back. By paddling well within your comfort zone, you will be able to really hone in on your technique and focus on improving the little things. 

5. Be kind to yourself!

Remember, it is absolutely okay to not be at the same place you were before your enforced time off. It’s okay to miss-time your boof, to not feel so confident, to walk a rapid that you’ve run 100 times. It’s okay to give yourself a break! We kayak because it’s fun right? So if you’re not having fun then maybe take it easy, paddle with your friends and remind yourself why you enjoyed kayaking in the first place.

Don’t forget to have fun!

So, there you have my top tips for getting out kayaking again. I hope it helps – let me know how your return to whitewater goes and if you have any lessons or tips of your own to add!

19
May

When Fishy Met Sally…

You may have caught Sal Montgomery at one of the array of talks and presentations she’s given over the past few years; following one such evening hosted (virtually, of course) by Manchester University Canoe Club, we found ourselves jotting down more questions than it was reasonable to ask on the night, so we asked Sal if she’d mind writing out her answers for a blog post for you all to enjoy; here we go:

You mentioned a recent injury – as a physiotherapist, do you find you’re more aware or more dismissive of injuries? 

Haha! I’m the worst patient!! I understand the injury and rehabilitation processes pretty well, but when the rivers are up it’s more of a ‘do what I say, not what I do’ kinda situation! 

What’s your take on small kit, its availability, and top tips for making what is available work for you?

Other than me getting on your back about the small Scorch not being out yet, I generally feel like we’re in a good place with small kit. When I first started paddling there were only a couple of options of river boats across the brands that were suitable sizes for me, whereas now there seems to be loads of choices- and they’re actually boats that I want to paddle! (So get on with getting that small Scorch out Pyranha and let us go join in the fun all the bigger people are having!)

[Editor’s note: we’ve begun the physical stage of development on the Scorch Small; watch this space!!]

What’s the most important or your favourite thing about kayaking? 

Having fun! Playing the river, trying new lines and different moves, surfing waves, trying to stern stall and falling on your face. Continually pushing yourself to get better. 

📷: Iain McConnell

Got any tips on how to get sponsored? 

Go paddling, have fun, be nice to people and maybe you’ll get some free gear, but if you don’t at least you had a good time!

You told us about calling the consultant several times a day after your injury… How important is that persistence to your lifestyle, and how easy is it to keep that up? What’s kept you motivated in lockdown?

Sometimes when you want something so bad, whether that’s a piece of game-changing kit or an operation that will determine if you get that once in a lifetime expedition, you’ll do anything to get it. 

It’s the same with training. You’ll no doubt confuse people when you turn down that secure, well-paid job, or annoy friends when you prioritise your workout over going to their birthday party, but you will only get closer to achieving your goals if you persistently put the work in.  And if your goals are pretty epic, then it’s all worth it and you won’t care about all the cake and booze you missed out on!

How long has fitness been integral to your boating? 

My paddling began in a freestyle kayak and it was obvious to me very early on that fitness, as well as strength, power, flexibility, and agility were not only beneficial but essential if I wanted my paddling to progress. This only became emphasised when I got into river paddling and found myself trying to keep up with my bigger, stronger, guy mates whilst carrying loaded boats for long portages or difficult terrains, then immediately getting straight back into powerful whitewater and needing to be on top of my game for several more hours. I desperately wanted to be a valuable member of the team, that my friends could rely upon, knowing that I was strong enough to help them if they got into any trouble on the water.

📷: Tom Clare

Which came first, physiotherapy or kayaking? 

Kayaking by about 2 months! Some friends took me to the whitewater course and we messed about in duos and duckies, jumping in and swallowing unhealthy amounts of the Trent, and generally just having loads of fun! Shortly after that, someone lent me a kayak and I was hooked!

[Editor’s note: Sal is referring to Nottingham’s White Water Course at Holme Pierrepont]

Do you have a favourite type of person to go kayaking with? 

My favourite people to paddle with are my friends that are fun, easy-going, but still conscious of what’s going on around them and always looking out for their buddies, who enjoy playing the river, trying new lines, and pushing themselves. They’re positive, motivated, encouraging and usually got a smile on their face!

Kayaking and environmental activism seem to go hand in hand… Why do you think that is? 

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have spent time in wild, remote, unspoilt places around the world. These experiences have been extremely special for many reasons, but have also greatly increased my awareness and understanding of our environment. Now more than ever, I feel I have a responsibility to try to make positive changes. We gain a huge amount from the outdoors, as well as see first-hand some of the impacts our lifestyles are having. If we want to keep playing in our awesome playgrounds, we need to give something back and help to protect them. 

Sal picks up something for herself during a river clean…

Can you describe how different kayaking is in Bhutan/Nepal to the UK/Europe?

Bhutan and Nepal are very different places compared to each other, but I guess in terms of logistics for getting to the rivers the distances are usually much bigger and more complex in these two places compared to those in Europe or the UK.

In Nepal for instance, it’s pretty standard that getting to the put-in involves 2-3 days of travelling up and down mountain passes in a bus, with your kayak tied on to the roof with string. You’ll then spend many days paddling and camping along the river, living out of whatever you’re carrying in your kayak. In Nepal or Bhutan, the journey is a big part of the adventure and means you really get to experience a place. 

For Euro-paddling trips however, Brits will drive their cars or vans out and can be ticking off several sections almost straight away. You’ll come home having paddled loads of different rivers in just one week. Neither trip is better than the other, they’re just different!

Sal and Steve Backshall reminisce of their Bhutan expedition during the Paddlesports Session at Kendal Mountain Festival 2020

How often do you re-run or not run rapids? 

Depends on the day, the river, accessibility etc. If it’s possible, I like to repeat a rapid multiple times, either trying out different moves, or just simply trying to perfect one particular line. Feels SO good when you get a smooth line consistently! 

Do you think we’ll run out of new things in the world, or will the sport keep progressing and opening up new possibilities?

After having recently carried out a first descent in the most wild and remote place I have ever experienced, I can confidently say that there is still plenty of exploring left to do!

Keep an eye on Sal’s social media for updates and new paddling releases!

www.instagram.com/sal.montgomery

www.facebook.com/Salmontgomery2020/

03
May

You Can’t Use That on There!

A few years ago there seemed to be a widely accepted belief that in order to kayak down harder rivers you needed a creekboat. A big one! Since then, the sport has moved on and the Freeride movement has pushed things further and further in half slice kayaks. It is now not uncommon to see a Ripper or other half slice designs weaving through burly rapids or flying off waterfalls that were previously descended exclusively in creek boats.

I feel confident in my Ripper around 90% of the time. The Other 10%, I am normally vertical or upside down and wishing that I had brought a bigger kayak, but it pushes me every time to improve my technique and that’s what I have always loved most about this kayak. It teaches you how to move and work with the water.

There are also some advantages to using the Ripper, and increased manoeuvrability and agility are top of my list of reasons. I recently chose to use the Ripper on a descent down the Achsturze section of the Oetz. This piece of the river is manky, siphon-infested, and the lines are not very clean. You have to weave and work your way around tiny gaps in the rocks and I chose to take the Ripper because I am more agile on the water in it, because it’s the design I am most used to – which is important when things go wrong and you have to fix things quickly and because despite it being a river running / free ride design it still has all of the safety features found across the range of Pyranha kayaks.

If you are going to use your Ripper on pushier water, my top tips are to hit things with speed, use your angles, and be ready to stomp and get forwards when you feel the tail begin to get loaded when you don’t want it. Also, the more time you spend tailying and getting comfortable bringing this kayak down from vertical, the better.

The Achsturze was the final piece of the Oetz river I hadn’t kayaked down, and it was a beautiful moment to link it all up. Getting to the bottom though, my main thought was how with more water I could link up the Achsturze, straight into the Wellerbrucke, though if I get the opportunity to try that I will almost certainly be leaving my Ripper at home and reaching for my Scorch.

Check out the edit below:

See you on the water,

Bren

30
Apr

Help build an Outdoor Center for Women in Nepal

Project Lifetrek is a women’s outdoor education Center in Nepal founded by Anu Shrestha. We aim to build a good team of young women and support them by providing expert training. This is very important for Nepal, where women are prohibited from deciding anything until a man has given them permission. We believe that we can change society step by step by working this way.

Nepal is one of the best countries for multi-adventure sports in the Himalayas. Adventure tourism is a big business for the nation and provides many people with work. Nature is a gift for everyone to play with, but unfortunately, it has not been possible for women to step out to find their dream outside the house. This is why we have started the women’s project to support and encourage them to walk on their own path.

Anu Shrestha is an outdoor guide in Nepal, and she has been working as a rafting and trekking guide for 15 years. She has had many good and bad experiences on her journey. She has worked in Japan for 3 seasons as a rafting guide, and 2 summers in Sweden as a kayak instructor for beginners. By choosing this profession, many doors have been opened for her as a woman, which would never be possible in Nepali society otherwise. In Nepal, most young girls get married at a very young age and never earn their own money.

Nepal is a patriarchal society. This is the reason women and girls are often not able to fulfil their dreams. Even if they try to achieve their goals, they cannot do it because there are many prohibitions for women. This is why Anu takes the initiative to encourage females to make a better life by giving them an opportunity. And at the same time, change social norms and values.

The project goal is to empower, motivate and encourage young women to follow her footsteps and provide them with the opportunities to chase their dreams.

To spread more hope in women’s life and succeed in the project, we need your support. We believe your support will help women achieve everything they desire in the future. Please help us to support more women and girls in Nepal.

Please follow us, donate a small sum, or any equipment.

https://www.facebook.com/ProjectLifetrek

https://gofund.me/6b156bc2

Email: [email protected]

02
Mar

How To Make the Most of Your Local Run

Travelling abroad is a little more complicated than it used to be at the moment, however here are a few of my favorite things to do on my local run to ensure I make the most out of it while having fun, staying fit, and making sure I’m ready for when I finally get to travel and kayak some new rivers!

Seal Launches

To practice seal launches will give you enough technique and experience in case you ever need it when portaging a drop and seal launching is the safest and quickest way to get back to the river. It will also provide airtime in a controlled and consequence-free environment so that you can work and improve your free-fall technique for when you get to the drops and waterfalls.

Find a nice flat top rock anywhere from 1 to 5 or whatever you feel comfortable with, make sure the pool at the bottom is deep enough. 

Make sure you push forward hard with the edge of your blade and engage your core and your legs so that the bow doesn’t drop instantly.

Once in the air bring your body forward so you can take control after the launch and correct your angle if needed (stomp) or get ready for landing. 

Attainments 

It’s a great way to develop explosive strength and work on endurance as well, plus making it back to the top means you get to go down one more time. 

When doing attainments, focus on reading the water and find ways to use curlers, waves, diagonals, rocks, little eddies… or any other feature to help you make your way up the river more efficiently and using less effort so you can save that energy for when you really have to muscle it through. 

Eddie Catching

One of my favorite things to do on the river and probably the best to make things longer when paddling very short sections. Eddie catching will give you a ton of edge control and feel for the water and the boat while making you stronger as you start – stop every time.

Focus on reading the eddy ahead before entering it and adjusting as needed; boat angle, speed, edge, bow draw, sweep, punt…

Stern Squirts and Stalls

Definitely one of the most fun things to do on the river with a slicey boat, they will help you enormously with edge control and getting a SIX pack! 

Make sure you have a nicely defined eddy line and paddle towards it at a 45-degree angle. Drop your upper edge and sink that tail with a backstroke on the other side while you lean back. Control the boat and keep it vertical using your legs and body, leaning forward will bring your boat more vertical or even make you flip and leaning back will drop your bow back to flat. Play with it and after a few tries, you’ll start to feel it and will be able to hold your stall with the help of your paddle as well. 

Surf 

Surfing is another of those fun things to do that has a great positive impact on our skills. You’ll develop great edge control and feeling for your kayak and the water. Try to surf all kind of features, flat glassy waves (amazing), sticky pourer holes (not that fun sometimes), little waves… Surfing a wide variety of features will give you the most experience and knowledge.

These are just some examples of what I like to do on my local run to keep it fun and entertaining, I’m sure there are a ton more we could add; in the end, the most important is to have fun in the water and by doing so you are also working on your skills so that’s a great bonus! 

Have fun, be safe, and see you on the river!

G

All photos by Aleix Salvat

24
Feb

Scorch: An evolution of design to drive progression of the sport

Whitewater kayaking began with paddlers pushing the limits of the sport and their craft evolving to enable wilder dreams to be accomplished.

Long, pointy, fibreglass boats became shorter, rounded polyethylene kayaks; different rocker profile concepts were explored and planing hulls with hard rails were pioneered, all making for kayaks that were easier to control in extreme situations.

This progression continues, and the boundaries are shifted year on year to this day. As each generation has passed down their knowledge and experience, the next has taken a step beyond them onto rivers once thought of as fringe, and Pyranha has endeavoured to create designs that allow them to progress the sport we all love and keep the stories of adventure (and misadventure!) flowing, whether they’re told by a campfire, in books, in bars, on forums, or via social media.

Pyranha US Team Party 2019
📷: Adam Goshorn

The Scorch is the boundary-smashing culmination of these decades of evolution, combining and refining features from industry-leading designs like the Burn (uncompromisingly sharp rails), 9R (volume distribution and bow rocker), and Ripper (fast and nimble planing hull); the hybrid rocker profile adds to this with the progressive bow rocker being efficient on the move, planing over even the burliest of features, whilst the stern kick-rocker gets the back edge of the boat out of your way on the lip of drops and ensures you skip out over whatever lies in wait below; a fine balance of length and edge carries speed and maintains precise lines, even in boily, unpredictable water; and the generous but carefully tailored volume keeps you on top of the water and gives you the capacity to carry all your essentials without blocking your paddle strokes.

This is the boat for dry-hair days on local creeks, dialling in moves and lines, and packing those lessons up and carrying them through to the wildest missions and expeditions you can dream of, but don’t just take our word for it…

‘Downriver the bow rode nice and high and just blasted over boil lines and had a very confident feel when entering those stouter holes and dropping those vert ledges. […] The edges on the Scorch were some of the best I have used. It’s got that downriver zippy edge to edge feel of the Ripper with the confidence of paddling the 9R II!’

– Wade Harrison
David Bain paddling a Scorch Large in Blue Crush
📷: Bren Orton

As well as S, M, and L sizes, the Scorch will also come in an ‘X’ version, which takes all the positives of the design and turns them up to 10 (including the length!)

Bren Orton paddling a Scorch Large in Orange Soda
📷: David Bain

Burn down the boundaries, ignite your whitewater ambition, and #GetScorchin

Learn more: https://www.pyranha.com/kayaks.php?kayak=Scorch

09
Feb

Working on a Film Shoot

The season was drawing to an end in Austria, and I was facing a choice between lockdown in the UK or lockdown in Austria when I received an Instagram message from Josh at Bali productions.

The tourism board was filming a new tourism campaign based around action sports and were in need of a kayaker.

A week later I was on the plane, negative covid test and work permit in hand, travelling to Indonesia to film with a very talented crew. It’s the sort of thing that my childhood self dreamed of; sick kayaking combined with sick filming in an epic location. I stopped my inner child from skipping through the airport, less I got hot and sweaty and scared the other passengers.

Getting off the plane and meeting the team, the producer told me he had guessed that I would probably want to head straight to the river rather than relax at the hotel and that there was a car ready to take me to the Asahan River. This river will sadly soon be damned and I could not believe my luck at having the opportunity to kayak down it.

I thought I was going to be kayaking it solo, which I don’t mind and actually enjoy, but when I arrived at the put-in I was met by a young local kayaker, Restu, who the producer had arranged to show me down. Fine by me, kayaking is more fun with other people, and myself and Restu blasted down miles and miles of powerful whitewater together. Flying over wave trains, weaving around holes, the Asahan River was better than I had ever imagined and we were only getting started. The upper section eased off and we cruised the rafting section together. Stopping under a bridge, Restu informed me that he wasn’t going to kayak any further today as the section below was a bit much for him. Thanking him for the lines, I took off down the next section with some beta from him, keen to see what the next section of the Asahan had in store.

I love reading and running rivers, with some strategic eddies, kayak scouting, and confidence you can make it down a lot of rivers without getting out of your kayak. However, both Restu and the assistant producer had been very clear on needing to stop before the biggest rapid on the river, and a few times I had seen the gradient dropping, scrambled to make an eddy, and crawled around the jungle to get a better peek around the corner. Eventually, getting it right, I was greeted with the “Nightmare” rapid on the Asahan. Different viewpoints give you different perspectives on rapids, I could only see it from the side of the jungle and what I saw looked like a fairly closed outline above a massive hole. From experience, there is usually more space and the line is usually more open than it looks from this angle. The only question is whether you want to commit to finding out.

The assistant watching through his fingers as I rolled up to the start of the rapid. Just as I had hoped, the line was more open than it looked from the bank. It was a classic, late-charge move and I had to keep calm and wait on the right-hand side as long as I dared before pushing hard over to the left and getting over the hole.

The Asahan was just one of the film locations, and we loaded up in the car and drove ten hours to check out the next one.

The Katassa waterfall, the first descent of this waterfall was done by Galen Volkhausen and Nouria Newman a year earlier, and I had loved the look of it. A tight lead-in section through a gorge before dropping 70ft plus. The day I scouted it, the river was low, giving me a perfect view of the hideous cave I would end up in if I made a mistake. The cave made me feel a little bit uneasy, but not having my crew with me made me feel downright vulnerable. Kayaking hard whitewater is a team sport.

Looking at the line I felt confident though, and I made my call; I was in. The producer scheduled the safety team and locked it into the schedule. I was personally hoping for more water for the film day.

I guess you have to be careful what you wish for. The night before the waterfall shoot there was a huge rainstorm and arriving there the next day the river was three times higher than when I scouted it. It was a beautiful display of nature’s force as the water thundered through the canyon and over the lip of the waterfall. It was rowdier, much rowdier, but so sick! I had been in Indonesia on a previous trip and knew how quickly the rivers rise and fall here. I told the producer we had to move quickly and I watched as he rallied a massive film crew and safety team into position three hours ahead of schedule. It was a stressful morning for everyone one. I was afraid the water would drop and the wave on the lip of the waterfall would closeout and make my descent a lot harder. I was expecting the river to drop dramatically as I had seen happen on numerous rivers in Indonesia, but somehow the level held up, the crew took their positions, and I was given the signal to go.

News had reached the local villages, and thousands of people lined the side of the river to watch. I scrambled to a secluded spot and took a few moments away from everyone to collect myself. I always distil a line down to a few core points and go through my Plan B scenarios so I can move quickly if things go wrong, but I had no Plan B on this waterfall. There was no possibility for me to fix things if they went wrong. I had to get it right and not end up in the cave.

Getting into my kayak, I had that wonderful feeling I am always looking for at the top of waterfalls; confident and calm, but slightly excited. The walkie talkie echoed back that the film crew was ready, and I launched into the river. I was immediately moving quickly though the gorge and feeling time slow down. The brain does weird, magical things in these sorts of situations, and all of a sudden I was at the lip of the waterfall, the nose of the kayak pointing slightly away from the cave, letting myself roll over the lip and the kayak settle before pulling hard on a stroke and tucking up as tight as I can. I went deep but could feel myself being pushed downstream away from the cave, I resurfaced to cheers from the thousands of people that had come out to watch, eventually becoming aware that I was also cheering with them. I only ever claim or cheer about a line if it was really good and if I had been nervous about it. My line down the Katassa waterfall had been both, and I was stoked as I was mobbed by the film crew who had all been nervous for me.

I spent the rest of the trip filming various other scenes, some in a kayak, some not, and having a great time working with the mega-talented Bali Productions team.

Working on film shoots is intensive. Nobody gets very much sleep, everyone works incredibly hard, but it’s all worth it at the end when the director’s vision comes to fruition and you know you played your part in making that happen to the best of your abilities.

Cheers to everyone involved!

01
Feb

Dear Cancer, You Suck

Cancer is so wide-reaching that most of you reading this know someone who has fought this terrible disease. It’s usually not an easy fight, but ultimately it’s the only choice; fighting for your life through radiation, chemo, surgeries, and a host of other toxic chemicals. These processes are what tear people down, make them feel like shells of their former selves, and bring a wide range of other awful side effects.

If you’re a whitewater kayaker, chances are you know Dave Fusilli, or at least know of him. However, you may not know his better half, Gina. They say behind every good man is a great woman, and there is no better example of that than Dave and Gina. Over their last 6-and-a-half years together, Gina has allowed a constant stream of homeless kayakers through their house in White Salmon WA, and been supportive of Dave’s personal kayaking ambitions. Gina is a kayaker, mountain biker, skier, nurse… and she is now a cancer survivor.

Gina was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2019 and immediately went into the twilight zone of treatments; seemingly endless appointments, injections, radiation, hair loss, fatigue… the list goes on. While she is not yet in the clear, the worst of it is over, and she’s slowly starting to build herself back up to the person she was before the treatments. However, it’s more than a physical obstacle; the worry of its return and the financial burden still linger. Gina was unable to work during much of the treatment, and even though she has “premium” insurance, she has shelled out thousands of dollars for the medical care she had no choice but to pursue. While this financial burden is indicative of the broken healthcare system of the US, none of it matters as long as she lives a long and healthy life.

Pyranha is a family, and Dave has been part of our family for a LONG time, so Gina’s diagnosis hit us all hard and we have tried to show our support and send positive thoughts along the way. However, now that she is over the first hurdle, we would like to help make a real difference by raising some money to help cover her medical expenses.

Check out the video above where Team Pyranha member Jared Nosal talks us through the format, and then head to the ‘Fundraiser for Gina’ Page to find out how you can get involved in the raffle, help us raise some money to go towards Gina’s medical expenses, and get yourself in with the chance to win a 9R II Medium in solid Fuchsia with custom anodised handles and security points.

Thanks, and good luck!
MP

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