I have had the pleasure to paddle a variety of kayaks in my years of paddling. I have really liked some of them, and others where just ok. Then there are the kayaks you just know are good from the very first moment you take a seat in it. The new Pyranha 9R falls into that category. From the first video I saw to the very first time I paddled the 9r I knew it was going to be an amazing boat. Everything about the 9r is spot on. The boat is narrower than most boats but does not lose stability. This also increases the speed and makes switching from edge to edge faster. Paddling the 9r for the first time down the Little White Salmon was one of the smoothest rides ever. The bow on the 9r is a magical thing as well. The rocker of the boat allows the bow to ride over curlers, waves, holes, seams, and eddy lines with ease. It also spins on a dime. You can have your boat pointing left and with minimal effort turn it back straight or all the way right. Now some people out there might be thinking that this boat is just a straight race but it’s much more than that. It does excel in racing but it is also an amazing boat for the average Joe. Its stable and boofs like a dream. So from beginner to the most hard core of paddlers the 9r will get it done. Till next time
Th 9R is still ruling my world at the moment, it really is the boat that I have been looking for when you’re after a day of making silky moves and taking beautiful lines on the river. Ive actually found it to be a great all round river boat and not just for racing, its really competent and nimble on grade 2/3 and manages to keep you entertained throughout. Its also capable when it gets a bit harder too and can stay on line in some pushy water, the boat seems to make you view the river differently and encourages you to take new lines that you wouldnt normally. The 9R has shown me that it really is a boat that everyone from racers to creekers, coaches and paddlers even at the lower grade can enjoy too!
Have a look at these short videos of it in action, its worthwhile turning your speakers up for this one!
Paddling is all about finding gear that suits you. Playboats are made for surfing and throwing loops. Creekboats are made to run waterfalls and steep rivers. You’ll be able to loop with a creekboat and to run rivers (and few waterfalls) with a playboat, but some boats are going to be better than others to do stuff. That said, you can do everything you want in every boats, the boat limits are actually the paddlers.
However, some boat are well design so it makes easier to do everything, without making the boat a specialist in a specific field. I personnally think they are the best boat, especially if you are looking to buy your first ever boat. As a newbie, it will help you develop general skills in the most various practice (surfing, spinning, carving, boofing, etc). By the time you will be experience enough, you will realize what you like, what you’re better at and what are the type of rivers you can find nearby.
All this leads me to tell you about THE most polyvalent boat to use: Z.One. I paddled it for the first time at Vagues en ville fest in Quebec city in April 2013.
I found no shortage of any of these things on a recent trip to the gorge. After a long drought in California and a few days of good work I had a little money in my pocket and no reason to hang around home so I decided a quick trip up to the PNW was a good first adventure for the year. I was there for only four days of paddling and I was able to get 5 personal first decents and personal record high decent on the little white. I decided to start off with a little warm up since it had been a good two months since I had been able to paddle any “real” water. We paddled the Green Truss section of the white salmon my first day in town. I had never done the truss before and found it to be a little different than I thought. I was expecting big drops with stout holes but instead found more continuous rapids. There were stout holes and some quality boofs but at least for the flows we had it seemed pretty forgiving in nature. None of the holes really felt like they wanted to punish you. There were definitely some rowdy rapids that were super fun. I went flying all over the place in double drop and came stern squirting out of a few others, but I never felt like I was gonna get beat down. Everything seemed to flush pretty good. Overall the run is just good fun. The only nerve racking part is the wood. I wouldn’t want to be swimming on this run, but I don’t really want to swim any run for that matter. Below is a picture of Dave Fusilli flying off big brother in the new 9R.
After a good day out on the river there is nothing better than getting together with friends for food and beer. We rallied back at Demshitz Palace to make home made pierogies. Here is shot of the crew hard at work. Don’t worry no kitchens were destroyed in the making of this outstanding meal.
One rog all cut, stuffed, and rolled. Now we boil them. Then we fry them. Then we eats them.
After a good run on the truss, a good meal, and few beers I was feeling pretty stoked to fired up the little white the next day. It was a good foot higher than I had ever done it before which didn’t sound like anything the night before when we were discussing it over beers but the next morning when we were at the put in and I could see with my own eyes how much higher it was than when I had been there a few years earlier, I had to look deep inside to find that stoke from the night before. People say kayaking is really a mental sport and I agree. I have been losing the mental game for the past two years. I took a couple scary swims and I have been struggling to get my head back in the game since. I’ll admit, there was a point when we were at the put in when I thought about backing out. Looking at the river I knew it was higher than I had ever done by quite a bit and I had a moment of doubt. I’m not really sure what prompted it but somehow in that moment I knew it was just time to get back on the horse so to speak. My knees literally shaking from nerves I carried my boat down to the river and got in. I was a little shaky right off the bat and flipped in the landing at boulder sluice. I got pushed up against some rocks and had a hard time getting back up but manage after a couple attempts. At this point I was pretty fluster and wondered if I made the right call. I looked around and realized that I was committed now. There was no easy way out. I took a few breathes in the eddy to slow my breathing and regain my focus. I find it really helps sometimes to just remind yourself to breath and relax. Refocused I took on the rest of the run and as I started flying off drops that stoke from the night before found it’s way back to me. I am really glad to have had my Shiva on this run though. The rocker in the bow and the boats forgiving nature definitely contributed to having a successful run. It’s funny to me how by the end of the run I thought I must have been out of my mind to consider not going. Below is Rob Fusilli falling off S turn on the LW.
After a second awesome day on the river we did a little Demshitz wine tasting. Yes you read that right. Demshitz is sophisticated.
On my third day in the gorge we decided to travel a whole 30 minutes away to check out the west fork of the Hood River. There really is so much white water in such a small area that 30 minutes is a long way by comparison. It’s not all class V either. I know that is what you hear about from that area all the time but there really is something for everyone. There are plenty of class III and IV runs and some scenic class II runs too. Paddlers of all skill levels can have a good time in the Columbia River Gorge area. The west hood was super fun continuous class IV read and run. It is the kind of river that I really like. There are enough rocks and river features that you can make up interesting and challenging moves as you go down stream but there is really nothing that you have to make. You could just float everything pretty much right down the middle if you prefer. It had some really pretty mini gorges and the occasional surf wave. I’d be stoked to go back to the west hood for sure. I think this would be a perfect run for a boat like the Nano. It would be great for doing the little creeky moves and that flat hull would be perfect for the surf waves. We were having too much fun on the west hood and forgot to take pictures so I guess you’ll have to go see this one for yourself.
My last day in the gorge we got a sweet trifecta. We did upper Trout Creek into Trout Creek into Upper Wind. I think if you do Upper Trout the others are kind of a package deal but since I’ve never done any of them before I’m counting them as three personal firsts. Upper Trout was probably the most continuous thing I have ever paddled. We watched the gopro footage after and it really was just boof after boof for a solid 7 minutes. The water was screaming fast which was a little unsettling a first but really fun once you got into the rhythm. This first picture is from Dave’s helmet cam looking at the three boats in front of him with a boof between each boat in the shot. The camera really doesn’t do justice to the gradient here.
Looking back upstream you get a better idea of the gradient. It was like this from start to finish. This was another time I was super grateful for the shivas rocker and forgiving edges. You could barely blink the water out of your eyes before you were going off the next ledge and needed to boof again. Below Rob is chasing me into one of the very few eddies where you could stop for a sec and catch your breath.
After we got to the Trout Creek section it got a little less continuous and the gradient eased up some but the general character stayed about the same. There were still plenty of sweet boofs to be had in this section though. There was one kinda sketchy log we had to negotiate. Doing most of my kayaking in California, I’m not really accustomed to seeing trees in every rapid on every river but in the PNW I seems to just be part of the experience. Once we got down to the confluence with the upper Wind the character of the river changed dramatically. The rapids on the Wind reminded me a lot of the rapids in the Grand Canyon except, they went on and on and on. This stretch was super fun although I think the edges on the Burn may have been more ideal for this last section of our trip. The river was still flowing really fast. There were plenty of big holes lurking in here too. When you got in the trough between waves you really couldn’t see beyond the wall of water in front of you. When you got up to the peaks you had to do a quick scan and look for warning signs of giant holes in your path. Overall it was really fun and I can’t wait to go back and see what other awesome runs the area has to offer. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is there for sure.
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!
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.
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.
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!
2014 was a busy year for me, and for the first time in a while I did not manage to venture on an international kayaking adventure. Instead I had to explore my own backyard a bit more. Fortunately, my backyard is beautiful British Columbia, a true whitewater Mecca.
A below average snowpack had us worried at the start of the season. But all the worrying was in vain. Water levels were consistently great. In the early season we got many great runs on the Ashlu and the infamous Whistler triple.
I’ve been back in the UK a few weeks now and have had the chance to get out in the 9R a few times.
Long story short: it is my new favourite boat. After a day at CIWW I was sold on it as a great boat for messing around in on easy whitewater but was unsure of how it would handle steeper whitewater because of its length. Fortunately we had a bout of snow which meant the Fairy Glen was running last weekend at a cruisy low level. After moving the seat back a bit I felt pretty comfortable in the boat and absolutely loved how easy it was to hit the lines in the 9R, especially the big rock flair at the bottom of pipeline.
Anyway, enough of the words:
I guess you are normally supposed to do this before the year actually ends but I was busy traveling in southern Chile so I didn’t have time then. Here it is anyway!
2014 was a great year, super fun and almost 100% injury free with lots of kayaking on my favorite destinations! So stoked to be living this life right now, focusing on traveling, kayaking and trying to enjoy life to the fullest!
I spent the winter in Okere Falls, New Zealand where I did lots of paddling on the Kaituna, slept in a bed every night and had tons of fun hanging out, learning to surf and taking part on the different kiwi events. Went to the South Island in February but got injured on the Citroen BoaterX and couldn’t paddle any of the West Coast classics. I guess I’ll just have to go back!
Early March we flew to Vancouver, bought a 22 year old Astro van and started the drive south to the Gorge, WA. Settled down at Todd’s trailer and paddled non stop. We had nice weather and great levels on the Little White and White Salmon, it was a great season with lots of boating with amazing friends on my favorite spot in the world. Spring went by really fast and we left to the White Water Grand Prix in Quebec for a couple weeks in May.
We found big waves and lots of ice! It was good times with lots of freestyle and some good boating around Quebec and a 5th place finish with some bad luck and pretty average performances on most of the stages.
After Canada it was time for some races on the NW! First off we went to the Big Fork event in Montana, organized by my friend Jonny Meyers it was a great weekend with 3 different races (downriver, slalom and GS) for the overall. I was so stoked to take first and bring home some cash!
One of my personal most important races of the season was next, the Little White Salmon race! After some good training thisyear I was feeling really good, the 9r prototype was working really well and I was stoked. Race day didn’t go too well though, never felt good during the 15 minutes race, had a numb leg and went too hard at the start having nothing left for the end… Not feeling good about my downriver race run I was fired up to do well on the Spirit slalom. Training run was great, race run I go off and miss gate 1! Ahhhh anyways it was a great weekend and finishing second wasn’t that bad! Stoked for Evan to take his second title and can’t wait for another chance next year!
After Ldub race is Idaho bound! We drove to Banks to paddle the North Fork everyday and get ready for the NFC III. On Thursday we had the Expert Lower 3 race, a 10 minutes race down some class III-IV where its pretty hard to go fast as there are lots of crashing waves and white water. I did my best but had lots of trouble keeping the boat under control and doing many mistakes, at the end I got first with less than a second lead though, it was a tight one! After the premiere in Boise where we showed our new SBP reel 2014 and partied a bit everyone got ready for Saturday at Jakes. I had two decent runs but lost quite a bit of time on gate 2 on both runs and hit a few more rocks than desired. This conservative runs were only good enough for 4th place this year, will have to go faster and take more chances next year for sure!
We paddled the North Fork for another week and then headed up to the Payette River Games just a few miles upstream. I entered the freestyle, boaterX and 8Ball races. Ended up 10th at the freestyle event after a couple training sessions, got 4th at the 8Ball and luckily took the win at the boaterX going home with some more dolla$! So stoked! After the PRG I started the drive back west and then north back to Canada, it’s BC time!
Got to Whistler early July, started working at Wedge rafting and padded the Cheak and Callaghan everyday with Ali and friends, pretty good times! Unfortunately the levels weren’t as high as I expected but it was a good time! We entered the Cheak time trial and the Callaghan race. I managed to win both events and it was a really nice time.
Time went by fast and the Stikine dropped in earlier than expected so by August 1st I quit and got ready to head north. After a long drive we got to the put in of this magical place ready to go for the first trip of the season. Nice weather, good flow and a sick crew, let’s go! We took it easy shooting a bunch and making it the traditional 3 day trip. We did another 3 day trip with great water levels and an awesome one day. It’s such an amazing place!
After the Stikine we went to Revelstoke where there wasn’t much water but enough for Sutherland and Pinkston. After a couple days we drove back to Whistler to finish off the trip on the Ashlu. A couple great weekends on the box and some days on the Cheak left us all tired and ready to go home.
Landed in Spain mid september, hang out for a week painting my grandmas house and paddling in Sort and left to Sickline. Sickline was great, we had good flows and pretty nice weather overall. I surprised myself and I managed to win the qualification on the lower section and clocked a couple fast times on the top section, however I didn’t have a good run on my final and had to content myself with 4th after doing good all weekend… This was my best result yet and a good experience for next edition.
Right after Sick-Line we flew back to BC to finish The Keyhole Red Bull project as we needed Fall lows water flows. Everything went great and I went back home for a few days before flying to Chile for the whole winter.
After some days of traveling troubles I landed in Chile late October and paddled the Maipo just outside of Santiago. We then moved south and paddled around Pucon including a couple trips further south to GolGol area. Mid Novemeber we flew to Mexico for the Rey del Río, an event in Agua Azul that included a BoaterX and a Waterfall comp. After the event we went to Tlapacoyan and paddled on the Alseseca and Jalacingo, two of the best runs in Mexico.
After Mexico we spent some time around Pucón and then traveled south following the water and paddling as many rivers as possible. It’s been an awesome time just camping everywhere and paddling all of the good classics that still have some water. It’s been really dry and all the snow and rain from the winter is almost gone so the rivers are pretty low right now but there’s always water and rivers to paddle, you just have to keep going south.
Overall it’s been a great year for me, I’ve managed to spend all year traveling around the world visiting NZ, the USA, Canada, Chile, México and Argentina and only go home for over 2-3 weeks. I’ve only had minor injuries and I’ve paddled a lot, almost everyday and in some amazing places. I’ve paddled the 9r prototype all spring and I’m now super stoked to have the final version, it’s sick. I feel my paddling still improves year after year even though sometimes it’s hard to see it and easy to get frustrated. I can only ask for 2015 to be as good as 2014 and I’m sure it will be with plenty of adventures and expeditions ahead.
BONJOUR À TOUS!
First things first, I’m more than excited to be a part of the TeamPyranha! Since I’ve been paddling, I’ve spent most of my time in slalom boats. As they are reactive and challenging, I always chose boats because of how they give me feedback throughout my surfs, runs or “trainings” but also how fun and multipurpose they are. That said, Pyranha boats suit these criterias perfectly.
I started paddling in 1999 in the Valleyfield club summer programs. As I got older, I became a simple summer instructor in 2005 and I worked my way up to become the Technical Manager of this club. In the last couple years, I taught and coached newcomers. Some of them became good enough to compete around Canada and a few places in Europe so I have the chance to follow them sometimes with the help of CKC and the Quebec federation. As of now, while the winter hits its peak here,