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Pyranha 9R Race Kayak, River Runner or Both? Review on the new Pyranha 9R Kayak by Cam Allan

Words by GoKayakingAdmin

on 11/09/2014 16:12:00


The 9R concept came from a need for a fast river runner to compete in boater X and extreme race events around the world in the short boat class which is 9ft and under.

It was not going to be a production boat at first and was only going to be for team paddlers. However as the design team paddled and developed the prototypes they realised it would be their go to boat for river running if it was in production. So here we are after a number of prototypes we now have the production version available to the masses!!

It is as long as it can be to fit the short boat class however a lot of people might think it is too long to be a river runner. It measures 272cm this is shorter than most river runners and even some playboats in the mid 90’s. The 9R has a much improved hull profile from then as well, so it is not too long for river running! Myth dispelled!


This boat has been designed as a race boat, so no surprises here, this boat is fast. I was out paddling with a friend who was in a Varun and I was putting very little effort in on the flat and he was almost at max revs with his strokes to keep up. Ok the Varun is a bad example as it is much shorter but the effort he had to put in to keep up was crazy. Attainments upstream are great. Eddy hoping passed tired out playboat paddlers. The speed comes from various sections along the hull. The overall hull length and narrow width (5cm narrower than the Burn Large) keeps you fast on the flat. The rocker and wave deflectors dissipate the energy when you hit a wave our drop into a stopper and get the boat quickly to the planning hull. From the seat to the rear there is a more gradual rocker so the planning hull and its length creates speed. The moderate rocker on the rear allows the boat to boof easily enough and still retain speed through drops. I have been paddling the Shiva alot this year and the 9R rides dryer and carries more speed through rapids.



My first thoughts when I heard about this boat was, “It needs to be able to turn as well as go fast” Rivers don’t go in a straight line and neither do extreme river race courses thankfully. Pyranha understand this and have made sure this boat turns. It does not however turn like the Burn where you have a sharp rail towards the front of the boat. You can crank a Burn into an eddy with a bow rudder, lean forward and the boat will turn super tight. The 9R is different. It wants to carry its speed all the time and this includes going into or out of an eddy. The rocker and wave deflectors lifts the bow as you enter slow or fast water then the flat planning hull takes over and speeds you along. The clever bit, and this is where the control comes in, is that there are good rails from your knee to slightly behind your seat, so with the correct weight distribution and lean you have all the directional control you need. When travelling the same speed as the current I found it a little harder to get back on line. This is due to the less aggressive rocker on the rear I think. However get the boat going faster or slower than the current and the control comes back. So to get this boat turning tightly you will have to lean back a little more than with some of the current crop of river runners.


Direction Stability

The continuous rocker, wave deflectors, planning hull and width behind the cockpit all work together to allow you to carry speed and directional control over boily sections of white-water. To keep directionally stability if you get knocked off line is not quite as easy as the Burn, but remember this is a boat designed for speed. With the length of the hull as it is I found myself putting on an opposite edge (like you would in a sea kayak) on some flatter boily sections to straighten myself up. Sticking with the boily sections of a river where races can be won and lost there was not really any loading of the deck with water, that could put you off line, especially the front with the huge amount of rocker and wave deflectors. I have not had the 9R on steep drops yet but with the narrow highly rockered bow I would imagine if it pencilled in it would resurface quickly. The front deck is shaped that it will shed water and surface predictably. This is good for direction stability. The speed the boat will carry out of a drop will also keep you out of trouble. I had the 9R surfing on the river waves. Attainments upstream up the tricky eddy had paddlers in playboats cursing me. Once on the wave the bow rocker meant it didn’t dive to the bottom of the wave and flush me off. Using the rails towards the rear I was able to carve on the wave. There is alot of volume in the rear with the length and the height on the back deck to stop the water loading but I was still able to change direction on the wave with relative ease.



We at are loving Pyranha’s Connect 14 outfitting. The new end grabs are made by a world renowned climbing company so are not going to break and are positioned in a great place to grab without pinching your fingers when lowering or lifting out of tricky situations. The seat assembly is easily adjusted front to back with no tools required which is important as at the top of a drop you can adjust it with little fuss and in a race environment you can trim the boat to suit the course. The way the seat adjusts in height and rake is great. Not as quick to adjust as some out there but it is solid when adjusted and light. Weight is important in racing, and for carrying to and from the river for that matter. We weighed the 9R in at 20kgs. This is 3kgs lighter than a large Burn and 5kgs lighter than a Mamba in River Runner Spec.


What Pyranha say.

Swede form hull: Asymmetric Swede form and narrow width for speed.

High bow: To lift over obstacles, punch holes and resurface quickly.

Continuous rocker: For speed.

Rounded edge bow: For forgiveness helps keep you on line.

Flatter bow profile: To direct water under hull for quick bursts to hull speed.

Slight edge: Starting centre running to stern for control.

Peaked bow deck and stern: For shedding water and clean release off stern with edge

Low profile front cockpit: And recessed rear cockpit to prevent water loading.


Not many. To get the most out of it you want to paddle it fast everywhere. This could get tiring! If you have been used to paddling the current crop of river runners you will have to paddle this a little differently and some people might find it hard to get used too. So it is not for everyone. For river running you could argue that it needs a quick clip on the front deck to clip a karabiner to in an emergency. I think this has been taken out to save a bit of weight for the race aspect of the boat. If you are into super tight Scottish Creeks it might be too long. Buy a Pyranha Nano or a Jackson Hero. There are no flat spots on the deck to mount your GoPro so you are going to need to get inventive.



Who is this boat for? This is not a boat for the beginner market. This is an intermediate to advance paddlers boat. It is narrow which for the beginner may feel a little unstable and it is quick which will make rapids approach a bit too fast for some people. Someone who is competent and is looking at doing laps on their local class 4 run will love this boat. It will show off dynamic paddling well so it will work as a coaching platform. Those lucky people who go off on expeditions will love its ease of paddling on the flat and load carrying capacity. If you like the forgiveness of a displacement hull creeker like the Pyranha Shiva or Dagger Nomad but want the speed and directional stability of a planning hull boat like the Pyranha Burn or the Dagger Mamba then you will like this boat. Oh and of course all those who want to be competitive at the SCA Garry BoaterX next year better get one!! My feeling is this is a boat that will work well in many river environments so to answer my first question, it is both a Race Boat and River Runner and I think it will be my go to river running boat this winter. The competitors out there are Liquid Logics Flying Squirrel, the Dagger Phantom (yet to hear about it coming to the UK) and the Jackson Karma.

More information on the Pyranha 9R Kayak Here!

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