I’ve been boating for well over 30 years so have been well placed to see the development of the sport and particularly the design of kayaks. Kayak manufacturers are now looking back to the longer slicey kayaks that were around in the late 1990s and early 2000s and I for one am really happy that longer slicey kayaks are back. I will say now that if you have only ever paddled poppy high volume short boats or super stable creekers then you need to find yourself a slicey kayak to try. At 9ft long (medium) the Pyranha Ripper could be a contender.
The Pyranha Ripper is one of the first modern slicey kayaks to come from one of the major players in the game that has also been widely available here in the UK. At 6ft 2″ and 200lbs I am above the recommended weight limit for the medium Ripper (145-190lbs). Nevertheless, that is the kayak I am reviewing here. In addition to the medium the Ripper is also available in small with a weight guide of 88 – 165lbs with a large sized Ripper available very soon.
One of the big negatives of the slicey kayaks from years back was that although performance was great comfort was not. Spending prolonged amounts of time sat in your boat would play havoc with your feet. It was accepted that this was how it was and that was that. Thankfully rather that replicate what has been done before manufacturers including Pyranha have brought things up to date and have given some though towards comfort. This includes a full volume bow for punching through holes and making the kayak a comfortable place to be for your feet. With size 10 (UK) feet there is plenty of room in the medium ripper and no issue with my feet being jammed in and going to sleep.
In many respects, it isn’t that dissimilar to the bow of a 9R and on the water I can feel the similarity, i.e. plenty of speed and easy to turn. The bow resurfaces well, punches through waves without issues and may even be faster that the 9R. It certainly felt like it although I haven’t paddled the two back to back. So it’s certainly not bow to stern slicey When looking at its side profile it’s at the back end where things get a little funky. It is this that reminds me of those great lower volume slicey kayaks from around 20 years ago. Add in the planning hull, bow control edges, and a progressive front to back rocker and you get a nice blend of the old and new.
The stern of the Ripper does not feel out of control and it never feels like it’s going to sink under the water itself and flip you backwards. I’ve paddled several different boats since they were released around the UK on whitewater between grade 3 and grade 4 (4+) and have never been concerned about the stern. Now when you want to engage the stern it is awesome. Paddle fast downstream hit an eddy line, stern dip, pirouette and then blast back into the flow. Guaranteed smiles every time. It reminds me a lot of a slalom boat.
The Ripper comes supplied with Pyranha’s Stout 2 outfitting system. This includes a padded seat, adjustable hip pads and full length adjustable thigh grips with the option to add hooker upgrade. The hooker upgrade is essentially a more aggressive thigh grip and one that I would recommend. It is also an easy DIY install if you wish to add it at a later date. Finally, the outfitting in the cockpit is rounded off with a ratchet back band.
As expected there is enough adjustability to get set up pretty quickly. After an hour or so of paddling I decided to try moving the seat forward one notch. This was very easy to do with a crosshead screwdriver. As I had moved the seat I needed to tweak the position of the full plate footrest by removing the four plastic wing nuts, repositioning the metal rungs and then doing everything back up.
If you are after a fun boat that you can happily run a range of differently graded whitewater and have a bit of play on the way down. It’s fun to paddle and is different enough from what’s out there at the moment. Let’s hope the return of the slicey boats continues.
Ripper without paddler are from North East Kayaks.
With paddler are from Eaglesnest Photography.