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Pyranha Memories: The Rob Roy, A Happy Accident

You may be aware that we recently released a Sit-on-Top version of the Pyranha Fusion, which has just been awarded ‘Coolest Kayak of the Show’ at PaddleExpo 2014; however, this isn’t the first Sit-on-Top kayak that Pyranha has produced!

Fusion SOT Wins 'Coolest Gear of the Show' at PaddleEXPO 2014

The team proudly stand next to the Fusion SOT and its new award.

Way back in the day, around ’86 or ’87 (maybe even earlier!) when most whitewater kayaks were 4m+ and made of fibreglass, boats getting pinned or wrapping around rocks were a common occurrence. As a result of this, manufacturers would produce kayaks with lightweight decks that, it was believed, would break away around the paddler in the event of a pin or wrap.

When Polyethylene started to become a common kayak material, many people worried that it’s strength and durability, which made it so resilient to the rigours of whitewater, would also make kayaks manufactured from it difficult to escape. Paddlers started carrying big knives to hack their way out of PE boats, and considered ideas such as cheese-wire-type mechanisms to ease these worries.

Around about the same time, some sea kayaks were equipped with ‘pods’ (an idea pioneered by Alan Byde), which were large sealed sections that did a good job of preventing the boat completely filling with water and sinking, but were quite cumbersome. The idea of an unsinkable, sealed section intrigued us, so we combined this with the idea of a break-away deck and started work on a polyethylene boat that would have a hollow, sealed hull and separate bow and stern deck sections that would seal over the paddler.

Pyranha Rob Roy Prototype

The Pyranha Rob Roy Prototype, with a removable deck section to allow the paddler to escape a pin.

The Alpine Kayak Club was also working on a similar system around about the same time period, with the idea of both being that if the paddler got into trouble, they could simply release the deck sections (which floated) and bail out, being left with an unsinkable hull that they could hold onto for buoyancy. This prevented any entrapment risk and meant there was no heavy boat full of water to struggle to unpin or empty afterward.

The Rob Roy's Removable Deck Section

The deck was attached by a string and cleat, which could be pulled in conjunction with the spraydeck to release the boat’s deck.

Here at Pyranha, we moulded the initial hulls for this new boat, which even featured a sailing dinghy style self-draining hole with a rubber bung in the paddler’s seating area. We soon realised however that with the deck sections attached, this boat would be one substantially weighty piece of kit!

Development was halted there and the hulls were sold off as recreational boats for beginners, and so the first Pyranha Sit-on-Top Kayak was born… The Rob Roy!