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Pyranha Burn Review from Leland

Over the weekend, I had the chance to take Pyranha's new Burn (medium size) out and give it a pretty good test paddling. Being a fanatical fan of the H3 - which the Burn is replacing - made me very nervous about the performance of this boat. The good folks at Pyranha came through in the end, producing a boat that appears to be superior in every way to the H3. Following is my Report - click on any of the pics to see them larger. Action shots are all by Andria Baldovin.

Initial Impressions

Upon first sitting in the boat, I was pleased with the extra volume. The H3-245 was a great boat for me, but I was pushing the weight limit and also had trouble getting into and out of the boat sometimes. The Burn is a lot more comfortable and floaty, and the new thinned down center pillar made entry and exit a lot easier.

When I slid into the water, the immediate impression was that I was on top of the water much more than in the H3. This had the effect of really picking the edges up out of the water, and was augmented by the fact that the edges have been raised more - allowing for a much more stable feel than in the H3. I would compare the stability more to my good old Micro240.

Paddling on flats and riffles, I was immediately surprised by the hull speed. I had expeceted this boat to be slower than my H3 since it is a hair shorter and has more rocker. Not so. I actually found the boat to be a hair FASTER than my H3 - probably due to the narrower width of the boat. The narrower width also made the boat easier to reach around to get strokes and for rolling.

When I got the boat in the rapids, the coolest part of the boat became apparent. When I paddled the Micro, I loved it for the fact that it was super forgiving and stable - when I got out of control or the water got big, the boat paddled itself to a large degree - safely carrying me out of trouble. When I switched to the H3, I initially hated it because it had none of that - if you let your guard down for a second or did not stay leaned upright and over your boat, the boat got away from you and became very squirrely. This was great for my paddling in that it taught me to always be alert, and once I learned to do that the H3 opened up many new possibilities due to its high performance nature. If you sit up and drive the H3, it will do things that a Micro could NEVER do.

The Burn is the first boat I have ever paddled that allowed me to have my cake and eat it too. If you want to sit up and drive the Burn, it will do everything that the H3 would do. If you want to sit back and just ride this boat, it will carry you through the rapids in style like the Micro and a lot of the other rounder/softer edged boats out there. In effect, the Burn is like a water borne Cadillac and Ferrari all rolled into one! In other words, it's really high performance when you're in control, and really forgiving when you're out of control - which is a big part of why I think this is the best boat I've ever paddled.


Here you can see the Burn (yellow) and H3 (red) from the side. There are two things that stand right out - the extra volume and the increased rocker.


Notice how the bow rocker is carried both farther forward and farther back on the Burn - this really makes a difference in keeping your bow up and your boat on the surface. Here's an example:

Notice the obvious bow rocker here as I'm approaching the top hole at Zwicks. They have tweaked the rocker so that it still gets that skip over holes like the H3 did, despite the bigger volume which you might expect would bang into the foam pile and stop.

In this frame, notice how the hull is even with the foam pile at the end of the rocker, but the bow is still well above the level of the foam pile.

Here's the result. The bow has skipped right over the foam pile and over the rock that tends to deflect boats back into the hole there when you get too far right when hitting that hole. The bow skittered so high, in fact, that I am rail sliding that rock in this picture - something you don't get to do in too many boats.

This is a cool shot - my form break at the end of the rapid. I was so shocked to get that far on the rock that I didn't get my lean right coming off of it. Notice how my boat is leaned a bit to my left - the outside of the turn. In the H3, this would have been punished with a fast flip to the left due to the edges. The lifted edges on the Burn gave me a free pass, and I paddled easily into the eddy right in front of me in the pic.

As a final note on the bow rocker - remember that this same rocker that keeps you up over holes will be what allows you to stay on the surface and in control when you don't get your boof exactly flat - transitioning you smoothly from vertical to horizontal without piercing through the water. In fact, I found that a much wider range of entry angles activated the bow rocker on landing, and that the transition was smoother to flat - allowing for nice rockered "45 degree" landings anywhere from about 70 - 30 degrees.


The added stern rocker was a big help too. Just like with the bow rocker, the stern rocker is extended a bit further forward as well as carried farther back. Most folks don't really know how stern rocker works. It has to do with the release of your boat from the lip of a drop, and also with how well you can lever your boat back on a slab to lift your bow up. The Burn seemed to have just the right amount.

Here are two shots of me launching off Gorilla. When launching off a drop with proper form, your effective stroke happens between the bow of the boat (lean forward and reach as far as you can to plant the stroke) and your body. You want to stop the forward juice on the stroke even with your body because if you continue it further back, you will end up leaning back - which is the best way to get out of control. This means that if the lip of the drop is a pretty hard transition from horizontal to vertical, your body should be even with the lip when the stroke ends. This means you are relying on the speed generated from the stroke combined with proper stern rocker to release you from the drop still horizontal. If you don't have enough speed or stern rocker, the stern will still be perched on the lip of the drop when you start to fall, which will mean your bow will fall down before your stern - resulting in the old pencil move. The Burn has a sweet release on the stern - allowing for really smooth flat launches.

Go back up and check out the top two Zwicks pictures in the bow rocker section to see how the added stern rocker also allows you to lever that bow up more to get over holes. The right rocker on each end of the boat is important, and the Burn has all the right rocker in the right places.


Edges can be the trickiest part of a boat to get right. Most folks who paddled the H3 had a love/hate relationship with the edges on it. They were super fun to use to carve yourself across the river in ways never possible in previous creekboats, but they could be super tricky and trippy as well if you let your guard down for a moment, if your seat wasn't in the right place, or if you ever leaned back at all in the boat. The Burn has taken the usablity of the H3 edges and translated them into a friendlier configuration that allows for all of the control when you want it and none of the trippiness when you don't.

It's immediately apparent from these pics that the hard edge starts farther back on the Burn (yellow) than the H3 (red). You will also notice that the edge groove is smaller on the Burn. Both have the protruding planing surface with a slope up to the edge, but the slope is much steeper in the Burn, meaning that the edge is raised a good bit relative to the planing surface. The result is that when you get your lean a little wrong, the edge is much less exposed to the water = NO MORE TRIPPINESS!! I found the boat to be much more forgiving on the edges. You can lean back a lot farther and still not get squirreled, due to the lifted edge, softened chine, and added stern volume that keeps those edges and chines away from the water. The Burn has the initial stability of the H3 with the secondary stability of the Micro.

You might think that you would have to give up control or performance for this added stability, but if you get this boat on edge it still carves turns or holds super aggressive lines - just like the H3. You just need a hair more lean to get the edge engaged.

Another common complaint about the H3 was the way the edges hung on rocks in lower water. The lifted edges in the Burn have fixed this as well. I ran the Watauga three times this weekend at levels from 110 to 135 cfs (SUPER BONY), and the Burn had no weirdness on the rocks - it actually paddled through them like a much rounder boat.

Back to the hull: The new hull shape with raised edges and more rocker makes for softer landings as well - it was much more comfortable boofing than in the H3. This is due to the fact that less of the surface of the hull hits the surface of the water at once - meaning a slower stop when you quit falling.


The bottom line here is that Graham and the crew at Pyranha have hit a home run with this boat. I was terrified that I was bound for mediocrity when I heard they were going to "soften up" my beloved H3, but I should never have worried. The result is a boat that is every bit as high performance, many times over more forgiving and easy to paddle, and with some extra volume and comfort thrown in for good measure. I have to return the demo today, and am going to be quite lonely for the Burn until mine comes in a few days from now. Thanks to Jim and Dinver for letting me play with the new toy. You can see the Burn at the new Kayak Depot here in Asheville, demo one at the ledges, and hopefully I will be on the river in mine April 8th at Cheoah for the Cheoah River Revival, and Sunday the 9th on Tallulah.

See you on the river!


Read the Burn Review from Brushy Mountain Team Member John Pilson