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Pyranha Firecracker – First Impression Review

Recently I got to tryout Pyranha’s latest river-play half slice, the Firecracker.

Pyranha Firecracker - First Impression Review
Pyranha Firecracker – First Impression Review

The Firecracker has been hotly awaited since it was first announced at the Paddle Sports Show back in 2022. There were lots of questions about the boat and how it sat within Pyranha’s line up, not least how it stacked up against the Ripper and Ripper 2. It’s fair to say it split opinion between those who were struggling to see the point of it, and those who were really looking forward to it. I have to admit I was on the more sceptical end of things.

The Firecracker has now finally been released to the public, and I recently got to try one out. So, what is the Firecracker? It’s what Pyranha term a “half size half slice”. Currently it is only available in one size, the 242, which equates to a medium in normal parlance. A smaller size is on its way very soon, while a larger size will be available later in the summer.

The 242 size is 7’11” long (242cm), 26” wide (66cm), and has a volume of 259l (68 US gallons). This sort of specification brings with it some inevitable comparisons with the Jackson Antix 2.0, and indeed on first viewing they appear very similarly aimed boats. The Firecracker is around 2” shorter than the medium Antix 2.0 and has two gallons more volume. Recommended paddler weight for the Firecracker 242 is between 60-90kg (135-200lb). At 65kg I’m on the low end for the current size, although with sopping wet kit on I guess I’m closer to 67-68kg.

I have a lot of experience of the medium Ozone, another boat I’m technically on the low end for. I spend a lot of time in a freestyle boat, so my taille skills in longer boats is a bit hit and miss, so I’ll be making a few comparisons with that boat. I got into the Firecracker for a short session on a very low level Dee, so this won’t be a detailed review, rather a short first impression of the boat. I hope to get into a size small for a proper comparison very soon, hopefully on some chunkier water.

I have to admit that, given I’m on the low end of the weight scale, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the Firecracker. However, from the first point I got into the boat I felt right at home. I was surprised to find that the 242 size felt absolutely right, a bit like putting on an old comfy jumper. I’ve always struggled with boats feeling either too big or too small, and from the outset the Firecracker felt pretty much smack on for me.

I did a few ferry glides to get a feel for it, and found that it was a very smooth boat to paddle and very easy to control. It isn’t the fastest boat, so it most definitely won’t be an attainment machine, but it just felt very composed and balanced. Edge to edge offered no surprises, and the secondary stability felt very good and solid.

I followed up by trying a few tailies. It took me a few goes to find the sweet spot, but once I did I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was to get the tail under than the medium Ozone. I became a lot better as the day went on, even managing to get two-three spins out of it on the outflow from bottom wave at Mile End Mill, something I’ve always been hopeless at, even in the Ozone. It felt controlled throughout, even when I messed up. I wasn’t able to try the Firecracker going through any serious features due to the low river levels, however the couple of small drops that were on offer showed that the boat was super easy to lift the nose up on for sweep style boofs. It’ll be interesting to see how it handles if you miss your stroke timing and plug. Likely in powerful features back looping may be an issue given the short stern compared to the Ripper, but then this isn’t a boat you’ll be using as your main creeking machine. The bottom wave/hole at the mill site was, as I say, very low. But, at this level it is actually a nice feature to play in, and a good place to play around in a boat for the first time. I found that on edge in the hole part of the feature the boat felt very composed and not grabby, even when early on when I was discovering where it felt best.

A far better boater than me will be able to comment on its spinning ability, but when attempting moves in the hole, even when I wasn’t successful, it felt very much like being in a playboat. The only giveaway being when I stalled out the spin and the tail hit rocks in an unintended back surf. I’d love to take it back there again at a higher level. On the green wave part of the feature, wow. Granted, the feature was only small, but if it surfs like this on the larger features as well, if you like soul surfing this boat is going to be a machine! There’s just enough edge to be nice and carvy without giving you any surprises, and that big volume nose never came even close to pearling. It feels like Pyranha have hit a good balance here, although trying the boat in bigger water will give a more detailed picture of its performance.

To conclude, although this was a very quick test in very low water, I was very impressed with the Firecracker. I need to test out the small when it becomes available, but I do suspect that it might be very spicy since I am likely to fall nearer the top end of its weight. The question for me is, do I go for the medium and have a boat that I’ll probably use 99% of the time, which is still easy to tailie but that can be taken on chunkier water if required, or get a small, which I suspect I’ll only use for low water days and general messing around? Decisions, decisions. Given that I tend to use a freestyle boat for the latter I feel that the Firecracker 242 is a good fit for me, but I need to try it in a wider set of conditions to be sure.

Words: Simon Wyndham


  1. Tim

    Can you give some more views about how this compares to the Ozone please? I’m struggling to see much difference between them (other than the Firecracker having more bow volume than the Ozone, of course) and why the Firecracker exists!

    It seems to me that when it was launched (just 3 years ago), the Ozone was heralded as fantastic for surfing and enabling super-easy tailees by many commentators. Yet now that the Firecracker has been released, the Ozone’s reputation is being trashed by some and the same things are now being said about the Firecracker…

    When the Ozone was launched it was said that it fitted between the Loki and Ripper, so where that leaves the Firecracker, who knows?!

    (Of course, I may just be feeling a bit bitter since I bought an Ozone just 3 months ago – if I’d known the Firecracker was coming out I might have waited…!)


    • Simon Wyndham

      Hi Tim, the Ozone and the Firecracker are very different boats. The Firecracker will deal better with steeper low volume rivers due to that nose being great at skipping over stuff. I also found the Firecracker was much easier than the Ozone to tailie. I think the Ozone is a faster boat, and although the Ozone is a 1.5 slice, it is cartwheelable, and as shown by Bren Orton, it can do pretty much all modern playboat moves. I think the Ozone is much more of a general play machine, while I see the Firecracker as a boat you could really use for a large percentage of the time on British rivers as a main boat. The tail will probably be quite spicy through big features though!

      Where does it sit in the range? Well, the Firecracker sits pretty well for people like me for who the sizing of the Ripper and other half slices is just too much boat. I’m either on the top end of small sizes or the bottom end of mediums. Although I am on the low end for the 242 Firecracker, I found the tail much easier to get down than the medium Ozone, and overall as a river running boat it felt the perfect sized boat for me as an alternative to a Ripper. I know a lot of people of my size and weight who have similar problems with boat sizing for who the Firecracker will be perfectly suited.

  2. David

    Have you paddled the Bliss and is there any difference between that and the Firecracker? On paper they’re the same boat with the only noticeable difference being the extra 24L and £250 for the Firecracker…

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