In the age of the slicy but capable river runner, the Pyranha Ripperstands alone. Taking cues from the incredibly popular Pyranha 9R, the Ripper combines the best parts of a creekboat with the fun and playfulness of a downriver playboat.
At 5’11” and 160 lbs, the Medium Ripper has been my weapon of choice so far this season. At 62 gallons, the boat feels as though it is a perfect fit for my size. The Ripper is just a touch under 9 feet long, qualifying it for the short boat race class. At a mere 24.5″ wide, the Ripper easily transitions from edge to edge, making ferry moves and carving across a green wave a breeze. The narrow profile does have its downsides, however, as the boat is far from stable or forgiving. The boat features an aggressive planing hull with sharp rails. When engaged, these make for an incredibly responsive ride. The boat can turn on a dime or easily make the hardest of ferry moves. The low volume stern is playful, but not too much so. It can be difficult to sink without a strong eddyline, but once down, it is very easy to hold in a squirt.
On the Water
Having paddled the Ripper on a variety of runs, from our class II-III town run to the Grand Canyon at high flow to the class V Vallecito Creek, the Ripper lives up to its name. This boat RIPS down the river. It is incredibly fun to paddle. It is fast (faster than the Braaap, Matt!) and responsive, making it a perfect kayak for the under 9′ race class. With plenty of bow volume and rocker, the Ripper rides high and dry through tough whitewater. The 9R-esque bow rocker makes the boat easy to boof and the kick rocker in the stern helps the boat accelerate away from drops. The stern walks the fine line between playful and forgiving, but being on the low end of the weight range, I sometimes struggle to engage the stern. Personally, I wish the boat was just a bit more playful, however, I think that it is a worthy compromise to make. I am more comfortable paddling this boat down hard class V than any of the other “half-slice” boats out there (IE Braaap, Party Braaap, RPM, Antix or Axiom), but can still have a ton of fun in an eddy line. The Ripper really shines as a river runner. The Ripper makes it easy to make last second adjustments thanks to the sharp edges. It carves across green waves like no other boat I’ve paddled. Catching big green waves on the Grand was a breeze thanks to the boats speed, while the bow’s aggressive rocker made it easy to power up and over big waves. This boat is meant to be driven. For strong paddlers who like to charge, the Ripper is great. However, as soon as you let off of the gas, the boat tends to feel out of control. The stern edges are easily engaged by leaning back, making it difficult to control at lower speeds. The narrow profile is responsive, but can be unforgiving at times.
Overall, the Ripper is one of my favorite kayaks that I’ve paddled in the last few seasons. As a long time RPM aficionado, I had a hard time believing that I would find a boat that I preferred to my RPM. After a full season in the Ripper, I think I’ve found one. While the RPM will always have a place in my heart and my quiver, it has gotten difficult to pull it out with the Ripper as an option. If you’re an aggressive paddler who is looking for a sporty river runner that is capable of making anything from class II to class V fun, look no further than the Pyranha Ripper.