When I started writing this blog not too long ago, I asked friends if there were any topics they would like to me write about. A friend of mine, we’ll call him ‘Pyranha Mat’ to preserve his anonymity, suggested one such topic. He suggested that I write a blog called ‘100 things Del loves about Pyranha kayaks’. Being the proud owner of a Pyranha Z.One, I probably could write such a blog. But the issue is that I own several kayaks of different brands and I would end up wanting to write a similar piece about each of them. So I thought why not just write a blog piece about all the boats I love and why I came to love each one.
As this blog piece was inspired by Pyranha Mat’s suggestion, I will of course start with my Pyranha Z.One. The reason that I first fell in love with my Z.One is because it was the boat that I spent the majority of my time in when learning to kayak. I genuinely think that being in a slicey or smaller boat when learning to kayak helps so much with grasping basic skills. My first white water roll, proper surf and pop out were all in a Z.One. After 6 months of borrowing the club boat, I saw a small Z.One for sale on a second hand kayaks page and took my opportunity. It was in great condition, had an unusual colour scheme and I just really wanted it! Owning your own boat makes it so much easier to get out on the water when you want to.
Four years later and I am still regularly taking my Z.One out on chilled kayaking days. I particularly enjoy the Dee trips I have in my Z.One as we will often bump into it’s previous owner Chris who is always happy to see his old boat being loved. Now that I am no longer a beginner, I love my Z.One for different reasons. The great thing about owning a slicey boat is that it makes rivers that you may find easier more exciting and keeps you up to speed on your skills. With a slicey boat, the whole river becomes a playground. Every eddy-line becomes an opportunity to practice tailees and surfing smaller waves and holes is always fun. Practicing harder moves on easier rivers or in less forgiving boats can really help in progressing with your skills as well.
Waka Stout – Frodo
Finding a creek boat that I liked took a long time but my Stout was worth the wait! As I spent more time river running and less time at artificial courses, I realised that I wanted something that could look after me more on my ‘pushy’ days. The issue was that I really struggled to find a boat that felt right for me. I demoed every boat that I could over a period of about 4-5 months and honestly had probably tried 20+ boats before I found the right one. I was at Teifi Tour and my friend Jiri from Radical Rider suggested that I try the Stout. So in the dark on the Saturday night, I did laps of the rapids by the campsite and just thought wow! Everything about the boat seemed to fit with me, more so than any of the other boats I had demoed. So I bought the boat.
As it was so different to the Mamba I had been paddling before, it did take me a while to get used to it. Comparatively the Stout felt very unstable and it was far more difficult to roll than I was expecting. It was actually on a trip to Dartmoor that I really enjoyed paddling it for the first time. We had completed a lap of the Dart Loop in the morning and I had felt uncomfortable. Encouraged by my good friend Matt however, we did the Upper Dart in the afternoon. It was during the mad mile that I realised how much I was enjoying paddling and how in control I felt. Far more so than on the Loop in the morning. The Stout needs to be actively paddled and when you do, it feels amazing! As soon as I had taken control, it felt much more stable and was just so much fun to paddle. After this realisation, I put a lot of effort into trying to actively paddle. I can honestly say that through owning a Stout, it has helped my paddling move forwards. I am often asked what I think of the Stout and I always get very enthusiastic about it. For myself and my paddling right now, its the perfect creek boat. However, everyone is different, and the easiest way to find your perfect boat is to try demos – and lots of them!
Extra: If you are wondering about why my Stout’s name is Frodo, my friend Hannah chose it. Frodo and I have been on a lot of awesome adventures together. My car incidentally is called Sam because Sam always looks after Frodo. (If you don’t get those references – go read the Lord of the Rings!)
My final boat is a late addition to my kayak family and sadly I have yet to take it out on the water! If you have read my previous blog piece on Goals and Goal Setting, then you will know that I would like to get into freestyle kayaking. In order to do that I needed a playboat. A Helixir has been highly recommended for me by many friends of mine who know more about freestyle than I do. So when an ex-demo came up for sale through Flow Kayaks at the start of lock-down, I thought why not! I have enjoyed my garden antics in it so far and am looking forward to actually paddling it post lockdown!
Ultimately I love all of my boats for different reasons. They are right for me for the range of kayaking that I want to do right now. And they will be right for other people too but they will not be right for everyone. It is good to take on board recommendations, but I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to demo boats if you can. That and outfitting it properly… but that is for another blog!
Featured photo credit: Tom Clare