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Pyranha Burn Review from John Pilson

This summer, we took John Pilson to BC and stuck him in a Burn for a week to see how he would like it. He's written up an excellent little report on his experiences switching into a new boat for a week-long creeking mission.
Photos by Leland Davis and Taylor Cavin

So, I get this call from Leland and Andria: "Hey why don't you fly out and paddle in BC with us this August". They said they'd have a boat for me, topo maps, a whitewater assault vehicle, and all I would have to do is fly in. Fair enough, but as many of you know I'm a bit of a lightweight and not prone to firing up the shit those guys run, and certainly not in an unfamiliar boat. Lots of whiny questions like "how hard's it gonna be?"

Stats: 5'7", 145 pounds, 30" inseam. Now, I'm 46 years old and have been paddling for 11 years -- with the last 4 years being more class IV/V creeky stuff and averaging 50-75 days per year. Favorite run is the Green Narrows here in North Carolina. I don't run everything on the Green, and am a puppy vis-a-vis the Big Dogs there. Started creeking in a Micro 230 (two yrs.), then a Huck (two yrs.), and then a Jefe that I got in December '05. I've had that Jefe down the Green 36 times since I got it and it's the only boat I've bought brand new. I also like to paddle an EZ on easier creeks sometimes. While I like and respect good gear, I am not a gearhead and could care less about most of that shit. Obviously, I am not a pro or a sponsored paddler...(but I also don't answer my phone, so they might be calling).

Anyway, to my recent experiences in the Burn out in British Columbia.

I spent 7 days out of 8 there in Leland's Medium Burn. I had never paddled one save for a quick run from Sunshine down once but I didn't fit so well inside it that time as I was too lazy to make the adjustments. Anyway, in BC it felt brand new and foreign, that's the point.

I LOVED the Burn! I sure do love the Jefe. The Jefe bumped up my paddling coming out a Huck last fall, and it's a great boat. But this is about the Burn. The Burn was wicked comfortable after the normal adjustments and additions of foam here and there. Leland had added knee blocks and they were a big part of my comfort/fit happiness. The Burn was fun as hell to paddle and carves in and out of eddies super cool with the edges which are easy to engage when desired. I am not a normal bigger drop runner, but the Burn resurfaced very predictably for me after a series of 20-23 foot drops. Two of those drops I landed pretty close to completely flat in fairly aerated water and felt fine. The other three times it was closer a 30-45 degree angle. All worked out great.

Course corrections are a snap compared to a real displacement hull. Holding lines a non-issue. I became super-stoked on the Burn, and felt very confident in it. Feeling confident makes me a better boater, and consequently I had a pretty strong week out there. If Leland and Andria got five dollars for every time they heard me say "I like to Boof" during the week I was there then they'd be gettin' rich quick or at least filling the fuel tanks on the whitewater assault vehicle. Because I do really like to boof. And that Burn is fun and easy and predictable to boof your little ass off. Engaging the edges and carving the boat around is fun and enjoyable. That's the sports car analogy Leland made in his review and it fits perfect.

Rolling it seemed pretty easy the couple times I flipped over, and VERY easy to roll when having landed on another Burn in a hole. You see, Leland was getting a minor working ahead of me once, and had just washed out upside down into a wall on river right and I came in on top of him. Literally. My only course of action, when looking down at his bottomside and having one hand on the wall, was flip myself to get off him. Having another boat under you with a matching hull shape is a great platform to begin a roll with.

You can take this all with a grain of salt as I'm not a pro paddler and my creekboat experience is mostly limited to the ones I listed above. But it's what it is. I also don't know much about outfitting and plastic quality. All I know on that front is the Medium Burn fit me perfect, felt bomber, and was super comfortable.

After running a (painfully boring) section of the Ashlu River in British Columbia on a Sunday, and making it to the Vancouver airport with 10 minutes to spare for a multi-stop red-eye flight home, I jumped back into the Jefe on a Monday for a Green run that afternoon and a one-day-to-the-next comparison. This could be a first ever in recorded world history. Yes, I still loved the Jefe and it was fun to compare. I want to do more comparing. They're different. No, I'm not gonna sell the Jefe or anything. But if I had to buy a new creekboat RIGHT NOW?

Gimme the Medium Burn!

John Pilson