When I first heard that Pyranha was coming out with a race boat, to say I was excited was an understatement! For me having the option to up the pace on a rapid, charging and flowing dynamically and seamlessly through the moves is one of the best feelings you can get in a kayak. In this area the 9r doesn’t disappoint at all and it really is one of the smoothest boats Ive paddled. Before getting in the 9r I was certainly ready for it to be a fast hard charging machine, what I wasn’t ready for was how good it would be in so many other areas too.
As soon as you sit in the 9r it feels narrower around the hips and this narrowness goes for the length of the boat. The knee position is the best I have ever had in a boat, finding it easy to get a snug fit and you get the feeling of being in contact and control with the boat really quickly. As you look down the boat, you will see that the boat is a little longer than what you might be used to, but it doesn’t seem like there is a mountain of plastic beyond your knees like some boats can. Behind you, the back of the boat looks well shaped, with the widest point being behind your hips and the boat narrowing towards the very back. This boat looks like when it hits a hole, the back end is just going to keep on moving through rather than get caught in the recirculation.
On the water the boat sits with a high bow rocker and pretty quickly you can confirm what you probably already thought, that the boat is going to be light and nimble on the rapids. From the vey first time you generate speed up the eddy and break into the flow you can clearly feel the boats lift at the front, the bow wants to stay dry and has no problem rising up and over tricky boil lines. As soon as you start throwing it around into eddies and behind rocks, its pretty clear that Pyranha have developed something pretty special here, the edge to edge transitions are fast, it turns really quickly on the spot and it also holds an edge and its momentum and speed too. Throughout all of this you have probably forgotten that its longer than what you normally paddle!
The boat doesn’t actually feel long in the water, but when you line up in the eddy against some of the shorter boats, its pretty obvious who is going to win in a race here! Charging straight down the river, the boat rides high up and over the waves, with the bow consistently staying dry and the narrowness of the boat gives the feeling that you are slithering down the river like some kind of racing snake. Any time that you get moved off course, or simply want to change direction, the boat responds well, feeling like a very maneuverable river boat. It really is no surprise that so many of the Pyranha athletes did so well at the Addidas Sickline in this boat.
What really surprised me about the 9r is that I really wasn’t intending to use it so regularly on the river as my normal boat. My intention was to try and use it for training and racing, but it hasn’t been phased by anything that Ive asked of it at all. I can easily get my two piece splits in the back of the boat and my river leader kit and equipment and the boat still feels light enough on the water, although I don’t think Ill win any races with this much kit in the back! Will I paddle this as my main creek and river boat in the future, only time will tell. If you’re constantly falling off steeper stuff or scratching down rocking creeks then there are better suited boats from the range, or if you are in huge water all the time, then you may want a bit more volume (Is there a 9rXL on the cards???) You also don’t need to be a superhero racer to get something from this boat either, many people will appreciate its features on grade 2 and 3 and for some of the more old school paddlers, the length and narrowness may feel quite familiar. Those people coming from a slalom background will find a familiar feeling when they paddle the 9r
Pyranha have genuinely designed an absolute gem here and it’s a pleasure to be representing the team in this boat. This is inevitably going to be popular with racers, river runners, paddlers with a slalom background, smaller paddlers and of course anyone who wants to charge fast.
Smooth, dynamic, nimble and fast. Im impressed with it, stay tuned for some more updates!
Special thanks go to Manuel Arnu, Rachel Burke, Michael Harper, Peter Harper and Lukas Tomsa for the photograhs