Spotlight On: Pyranha Kayaks
This blog is all about the paddlesports powerhouse that is Pyranha and why, if you haven’t got one already, you should have a Pyranha kayak in your fleet.
About Pyranha Kayaks
Just turned 50 years old this February, Pyranha’s origins lie back in the days of all fibreglass boats when they produced competition winning designs such as the Trident, the Sabre, the Viper and Bullet 1. Initially in basic fibreglass and then an increasingly sophisticated range of composites, each design learning from and improving on previous iterations and always at the forefront of technological development.
From competition boats they moved, in the mid 70s to serious white water kayaks designed to ‘play the river’ and in several instances, play very big rivers indeed such as the Dudh Kosi which tumbles and plunges down the flanks of Everest by providing boats - appropriately named the Everest - for Mike Jones’ eponymous, game changing expedition. The famous footage of the expedition is still available on DVD and if you want to see one of the original craft - which to modern eyes looks scarily fragile - there’s one at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth
The advent of plastic construction plotted the future course for Pyranha Kayak development. While other manufacturers were producing plastic boats which still looked like their cigar shaped fibreglass forebears, Pyranha, using their understanding of canoe polo kayaks truncated the ends of their plastic boats to produce the Rotobat. The name itself shows the innovation inherent in this craft. The ‘roto’ bit comes from the new construction technique of rotating a blob of molten goo to create the shape of the hull and the ‘bat’ element - an abbreviation of Baths Advanced Trainer - shows the cutting-edge nature of the design. Possibly the best boat ever for rolling, the Rotobat led to the chunkier Mountain Bat and the slicier Stunt Bat, each taking kayak design off in new directions which are still with us today in the modern forms of creeker, river runner, river play etc.
And where does the name come from? Well, pre-Pyranha, Graham (Mackereth - owner, inspiration and drive behind Pyranha kayaks) worked in an office where they had a fish tank with two piranha fish, although one got hungry at some point and ate the other. Those fish inspired the name for his (at that point) hypothetical kayak brand. When hypothetical became actual, Graham went to a trade show at Crystal Palace to see that another brand had recently released a model called the ‘Piranha’ so he altered the spelling to avoid confusion, then later found out it was actually the Brazilian spelling of the word and therefore arguably the original.
Pyranha Kayak Models
With a tremendous range to choose from, three models we’re focusing on are the: Z One, Jed and Fusion.
In 1994 Pyranha produced the InaZone, the first boat to be available in three different sizes for different size paddlers and for many, variously sized paddlers, their first responsive, playful river runner or surf boat. From there came the I.3, the I.4 and so on until now the Pyranha Z One Kayak - stable, manoeuvrable and responsive, this boat welcomes newbies and born again paddlers alike.
What a boat! Built for tricks and stunts and acrobats. Pictures speak louder than words with boats of this class so here’s a link to Pyranha’s own footage of a Jed in action.
A cross over kayak. Why do you need a crossover kayak? Well, you don’t until you want to go on a journey from the River Dart Country Park on the River Dart all the way down to Dartmouth with an overnight bivvy en route. The first section is twiddly and bouncy grade two - ideal river boat territory but then it flattens out and the pace eases until it becomes tidal below Totnes, ideal touring boat or sea kayak territory so which boat do you use? A Pyranha Fusion Kayak obviously. Short and nimble enough to cope with the grade 2 sections of the Lower Dart but with enough length and a drop down skeg to paddle the tidal river and estuary and enough space in the rear hatch to pack your tarp, hammock and ghillie kettle for your overnight camp.
And to answer the implied question in the intro; why should you have a Pyranha kayak in your fleet? Easy, because they’re British and they are and have always been the most innovative of kayak designs so whichever way you want to paddle, a Pyranha kayak will take you further.
Want to know more? Come and see us from 12th April or if you can’t wait another month call, email, talk to us. Si loves the Machno and the Jed - that’s not him in the video although he’d like to think it is - and I can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Fusion SoT and the SurfJet.