Monday, 17 November 2014

The ever popular Small Pyranha Burn!

As a smaller female paddler I was asked to review the new small Pyranha Burn 3. I am 5'0”, weigh around 60kg and not particularly flexible. I currently paddle a Zet Veloc, with a brief time paddling the Dagger Mamba 7.5 before and during a trip to Nepal. I confess I have never tried the previous small Burns because they never appeared to be small enough.

My first thoughts were that the red, white and grey colour scheme was wonderful. The footplate was easy to adjust, and moved close enough even for my short legs, although slightly too narrow. I would probably have used the larger footplate that I believe is available, but it was fine with the one that was fitted. In my current kayak I have moved the footplate further forwards and covered it with chunks of foam for the same reason. I did not try adjusting the seat position, as I found it comfortable as it was. The ratchets for the backrest worked well, and my throwbag fitted well under the central strap, although I would have liked more than just one elastic loop for my water bottle.


Paddling the Dart Loop with the water level just below the slab was a fun test for the Burn. Doing an early practice roll really showed the advantage of the lower profile for a smaller paddler. Instead of sitting deep in the kayak, losing most of my trunk rotation, I was able to reach the surface with my paddle with ease. The usual answer to the problem of sitting deep in the kayak is to add layers on foam on the seat. This creates new problems for the short paddler though, as you are less stable when paddling, and have to reach even further to get the paddle to the surface when rolling. I feel that many people really don't understand how much a paddler with a short body loses flexibility to clothing, buoyancy aid and seat position.

The Burn's handling was fun and responsive. Turning for S bends at the shoot just below Spitchwick was completely reliable with the sharp edges giving turns a crisp accuracy and ferry glides were smooth thanks to the flatter hull. Deciding that I needed to test the kayak out even more I had a go at surfing at the bottom of the Webburn, something I have never had much success with in my more rounded Veloc. The Burn inspired such confidence that I continued down river looking for more challenges. I didn't quite manage eddy-hopping down Lovers Leap (something that is still fairly new to me anyway), but the kayak tracked really well, and responded perfectly to the adjustments I made on the route down. Instead of fighting the kayak to get it to change direction, I just had to make small corrections, giving me a much smoother paddling style.

At Triple 1 I dropped down and deliberately stopped paddling to see if I would get tail squirted or sucked backwards, no chance! Breaking in and out of the current was easy, and I didn't find myself catching the edges at all on eddy lines, even quite tricky eddies such as river right just below Triple 2. Having successfully negotiated Triple 2 and 3, I found my challenge, the wave after Triple 3 was somewhere I have never managed to surf properly. With confidence in the edges and hull riding high, I started to surf on my second attempt. When I inevitably capsized, there was never any doubt that I was going to roll up.

Finishing the run, I had to admit to myself that my thoughts had progressed from review topics, to “I really don't want to love this kayak”, ending up with “I really love this kayak”! I need to demo it again, as I am slightly concerned that there might not be enough room to store a drybag and my medium sized SLR in an Ortlieb Aquazoom bag either side behind the seat, as the height of the nearest part of the rear deck was a lot lower than I am used to. However, if I can squeeze the bag under this part, there is certainly more space further back! Perhaps I'll just have to buy a GoPro...

All in all, Pyranha have finally come up with a small person's kayak that really feels properly thought out, not just a scaled down large kayak. Congratulations to Pyranha, thanks to Liam and AS Watersports for letting me demo the boat.