When Rocky Balboa hit theatres in 2006 after 16 years sans Rocky, film aficionados scoffed that Stallone had tried and failed to recapture lost glory. Still, we bought tickets and watched anyway. Where the Rocky reboot failed, kayak designers seem to have scored a knockout with reconceived designs like the Pyranha Z.One kayak, a resurrected version of their InaZone playboat.

Pyranha Z.One Specs
(S / M / L)
Length: 8’1” / 8’4” / 8’7”
Width: 25” / 25.5” / 26.8”
Volume: 48 / 56 / 69 U.S. gal
Weight: 35 / 37.6 / 39.4 lbs
Weight Range: 100-185 / 140-210 / 165-250 lbs
MSRP: $1,099 USD or $1,299 CAD

Pyranha returns to one of the best

According to Pyranha, when the InaZone was introduced in 1999 to a market predominated by Necky Jives, it quickly became the most popular planing hull boat in the world. Playful and user friendly, it was the kayaking everyman’s do-it-all boat.

In our 1999 freestyle kayak test, Paddling Magazine stated the InaZone was “well on its way to being the best all-round playboat.” Playboating (now Canoe & Kayak UK) magazine even awarded the boat their Kayak Design of the Decade award in 2004 before the InaZone was outmoded by rodeo fever and newer freestyle designs.

The Pyranha Z.One is fun for all levels of paddler

With the Z.One, Pyranha designer Graham Mackereth says he wanted to create a kayak that was more stable, manoeuvrable and comfortable than its predecessor. He set out to design a kayak that would help beginner and intermediate paddlers improve their paddling, but also feel familiar to fans of the InaZone. “We wanted the Z.One to be a really sporty classic kayak that could catch waves, surf, eddy hop and just make it fun to carve your way down a river,” he says.

Mackereth began by tweaking the InaZone’s hull shape—lengthening it and increasing bow rocker to give it greater speed and lift—then moving on to the deck where he raised the knees and rounded out the sidewalls.

Nimble but not unpredictable

Offered in three sizes that stretch from 8’1” to 8’7”, the Pyranha Z.One kayak’s length is compensated by a highly rockered stern that creates a surprisingly short and nimble waterline. Mackereth says softer edges and a loose hull make long surfs on even shallow, fast waves a breeze and the slicey, low volume tail is quick and stable to squirt.

Man paddling a Pyranha Z.One kayak through whitewater
Feature Photo: Virginia Marshall

Our testers noted that the Z.One’s narrow, fast hull accelerated like a rocket on peel-outs and made for quick and slick transitions when carving in and out of eddies or working a surf on a dynamic wave. The Pyranha Z.One’s fast hull also means that the kayak carries its speed and direction after just a few strokes, giving developing paddlers a predictable platform from which to focus on the river.

[ Plan your next kayak river running adventure with the Paddling Trip Guide ]

Work the surf with the Pyranha Z.One kayak

Mackereth says there’s one more important demographic he had in mind while designing the Pyranha Z.One, “Older paddlers who want a cool kayak that allows them to surf and play a bit without hurting their body or ego.” In appealing to these Rocky fans on the river, Mackereth has created a real contender for the modern river play belt.

This article was first published in the Early Summer 2009 issue of Rapid Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.


0/5 (0 Reviews)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here