With the weather man promising a freak heat wave in North Wales, it seemed like the weekend of the 22nd of september was then perfect time for the annual Pyranha Fest! Kayakers from across the country descended onto north Wales, with a promise of boating, competitions, coaching and of course partying!
Over the weekend I delivered 2 freestyle based sessions, focusing on introducing playboating moves in a dynamic river environment. Freestyle can be a superb way to develop your river paddling, and simply being able to surf a wave confidently or turn around in a hole can make a massive difference to your confidence on the river. With some pretty epics surfs and swims had throughout the sessions, it was safe to say that everyone left with a smile on their face and also something to work on.
One of the hottest arrivals at the event over the weekend was the chance to demo one of the new mark 3 Burns. With all of the demo burns being out over the weekend and with me coaching over the Saturday and Sunday it was a real mission to actually manage to get out in the water on one! Once I finally managed to get into one and get on the water, to say I was excited was an understatement.
For me one of the biggest things in how a boat paddles is the sitting position and how that feels. In the new burn this feels just right, with a great height and width for your knees and the seat height feeling good too. In the prototype demo there was also a foam insert which went under the seat to raise your legs and offer a better fit. This really worked well for me and meant I had much better connectivity with the boat, (Im assured this seating adjustment will make its way into production. Once out and onto the water it was instantly recognisable that a huge amount of thought and time had gone into the latest version of Pyranha's iconic boat. I love the redesigned bow rocker which feels like it just floats over the top of the waves nicely and any waves that do drop on top of it resurface nicely due to the peaked deck profile. The boat seems to really stomp into eddys and lands well from boofs, being manageable and controllable throughout.
The boat is also narrower than previously, which means that edge to edge transitions feel much more dynamic and the boat seems even more nimble than before because of this. The front edges help the boat to carve nice and smoothly and the reduced stern edges make sure that it doesnt trip over on the way into eddys. Initial results are promising seem promising!
The increase in volume on the medium sized version for me is welcome too. I am certainly on the (ahem) larger side of medium and felt like in the last burn the medium was a bit too small, but the large a bit too big. The medium now feels like the right size volume for a river boat and had no problem with me and my kit inside. On a fully loaded or high volume trip, I would be really keen to see how the new large size handles though. With the reduction in width it could easily compare to the Pyranha Everest. Safe to say the new burn is sure to be a huge hit and I cant wait to get hold of mine when they finally come out.
Throughout the weekend there were several competitions including the retro freestyle, extreme slalom and also the fiercely competed boatercross. Competitiors had to sprint down from below the ski jump, down to a must catch eddy at the cafe wave to touch a spray deck (held down expertly by Rick Atkinson) and then fly down to the finish at the NRA bridge. With fun and smiles on everyones face and some real carnage in the half way eddy, it was a great competition!
So overall a fantastic weekend, with some great boating, coaching, competitions, lectures and of course partying at the campsite in Bala. Bring on the new burn, bring on some more great paddling and bring on Pyranha fest 2014!