ww kayak similar to Pirouette?

I am new to whitewater paddling (although I’ve been paddling calmer waters for about 4 years) and I bought a used Pirouette that I am trying to learn to roll. I really like the way the Pirouette handles (much more forgiving than the ww kayak I started with, which kept flipping me).

When I do learn to roll the Pirouette, I intend to reward myself by upgrading (maybe something nice and new), but I still want something very forgiving like the Pirouette - just a bit shorter and new so I can make it mine. Don’t get me wrong - used boats are fine, but this time I want to buy what I WANT, not just what happens to be available.

Now I need advice. FYI, I don’t have any desire to do acrobatics or play moves, but I do like to river-surf a little. Also, I never intend to do more than about Class II or an easy III. So most of the rivers I paddle will have long flat spots in between minor rapids.

Yes, I know I could probably do Class II in a rec boat, but I have found that you can “feel” the river much more in a ww boat - even a piddly little rapid is more fun in a ww boat. And for someone who can stand to burn some extra calories (me!), it’s a great workout.

I have my eye on a Prijon Chopper (seems similar to the Pirouette only about a foot or so shorter) and I also like the Prijon Embudo (now we’re getting into creek boats, and it wouldn’t be as fast as the Chopper, but it seems to have the same roundish, forgiving hull). Also like the Jackson Rocker.

It’s near impossible for me to demo Prijons as nobody stocks them in this area. So I would have have to just hope for the best. I have sat in the Rocker and it fits me fine, but I didn’t paddle it.



Rocker is way overkill…
You don’t need a creeker to run class II-III stuff. Although I always recommend used boats (especially in whitewater due to the high boat turnover and the great deals), if you insist on a new river runner, there are plenty of great options.

Pyranha h:3, Pyranha i:4, Necky Jive, Dagger GT, Riot Booster, Wavesport EZ, Wavesport Diesel, Jackson Fun, and Liquid Logic Lil Joe are just a few of the many great river runners out there. I definitely recommend any and all of the above kayaks.

yes, but

– Last Updated: Jul-21-05 11:09 AM EST –

some of those you mentioned are playboats, and I don't want to play. Remember I mentioned the first (used) boat I bought kept flipping me? That's why. It had a moderately slicey stern - not very forgiving - and I'm lucky it didn't ruin me for whitewater completely. Thought all ww kayaks were like that until I paddled the Pirouette.

I'll admit the Rocker is overkill but I liked the description of how it handles weird water and micro eddies and such. I'm looking for fun and forgiving.

Of the ones you mentioned, I considered the Pyranha H:3, the Dagger GT, and the Wavesport Diesel. The others gravitate toward being playboats, in my opinion. Oh, except the Li'l Joe - I'm staying away from Liquid Logic for reasons I won't go into here. They're a good company and I like their boats... just a long story which I won't bore you with.

Is a well behaved boat. If you want to do some river surfing. It’s very forgiving and handles like a cork, pretty easy to find used models around. I’m totally incompetent and manage to keep it upright and it rolls really easily. Only paddled a few whitewater boats but it’s not really a play boat in my book.

actually they’re all river runners
Although some would be more toward river runner/play than river runner/creek.

Based on what you’re looking for, I think the Diesel would be an excellent boat for you and probably better than a Rocker. A creeker isn’t designed for river running and it would actually be less maneuverable than a river runner.


– Last Updated: Jul-21-05 12:19 PM EST –

this is the kind of input I'm looking for. Didn't know that a creeker was less maneuverable than a river runner, although I figured it would be slower on the flat stretches.

The Jive must not be in production - can't find any info on it.

Oh, and I should mention... I'm, uh, too big for some of the boats (and I hate being right at the top of the weight range). I'm 5'7" and about 187 as of today (but I'm losing it!) Another reason the Li'l Joe wouldn't work for me. The Hoss would, but sorry, I can't have a boat called "Hoss". LOL

Necky has a section
on their webpage for out of production boats, hunt around a bit and you will find the Jive and some other classics too. I think the 8’4" Jive handles up to 230 lbs. The good thing about whitewater boats are that really nice used boats can be found really cheap.

I got one as my first whitewater boat, and it forgives many mistakes, although at 160 lbs the stern will grab if I get lazy and lean back. The relatively soft chines(by modern standards) mean that you give up some carving ability.

The Dagger Mamba and Jackson Hero/Super Hero sound like they might also fit your mission.

Is the Embudo overkill too? I really like look and reputation of the Prijons but it’s hard to find one to demo. Really leaning toward the Chopper as it seems pretty close to the Pirouette and would be fast on the flatwater parts of the river.

Any pure “creeker” is probably way overkill and would actually be more difficult to learn on as they are made for going over waterfalls and running class IV/V/VI water. As for the other Prijon boat you mentioned, I think that’s another old school displacement hulled boat. In that case you won’t be moving to a boat that’s significantly better than the pirouette in any real way. I could go on about planing hull boats being more stable, easier to ferry with, easier to catch eddies with, etc. but Dr. Disco has written an excellent FAQ that I hope he doesn’t mind that I re-post. Here it is in it’s entirety.


Buying Your First Whitewater Boat

Q: When should I buy a boat?

A: Wait as long as you can, or at least until you find a bargain. Fall is a good time to buy.

Q: Should I buy a new or a used boat?

A: Buy used. You will almost certainly want a different boat after a year (or less), so don=t invest a lot in the first one. You should be able to find an acceptable boat for less than $400. Since you are going to resell it be sure to buy a popular model.

Don’t worry about scratches on a used boat. All whitewater boats have them and they don’t affect performance. Do worry about deep gouges, cracks, or deformation. Ask someone with experience to help you evaluate the condition of a boat.

Q: What kinds of boats are there?

A: Since this is your first boat I am going to leave out things like creek boats, squirt boats, and boats for wave surfing. The remaining boats fall generally into two broad classes - displacement hulls and planing hulls. Displacement hulled boats are typically older, longer boats with a hull that is rounded. Planing hulled boats are typically newer, shorter boats with a hull that is flat on the bottom. You will see both kinds on rivers although very few displacement hulled boats are currently being manufactured.

Q: Which kind of boat should I buy?

A: This depends on what you want to do. It is useful to think about that in terms of three categories described below.

River running. This is going down the river in a boat from point A to point B. This is essentially what rafts do. Maneuvering is minimal although catching eddies and ferrying is generally required.

Park and play. This is going to one spot in the river where there is a wave or a hole and doing tricks on the wave or in the hole.

River running with play. This is going down the river but doing “tricks” along the way. This can range from just surfing on small waves to doing more complicated moves like stern squirts, rock splats, and cartwheels.

Most people begin running rivers and as they get more skilled they begin to add playing. Some go on to park and play, others do not. If you intend river running with much play, or park and play, you should definitely buy a planing hulled boat. If you only intend to do river running or river running with a little surfing then the kayaking community is split about the kind of boat that is best. Here are some of the pluses and minuses.

A planing hulled boat is generally more stable. Eric Jackson says “a boat should be wide enough to give the beginner a stable platform to sit on. A narrow [displacement hulled] boat is [more] difficult to keep right side up and the more a beginner has to worry about flipping, the less they will try, and the slower they will learn.”

Planing-hulled boats can be more difficult for some people to roll. In general they are less tolerant of sloppy technique and weak hip snaps.

Planing-hulled boats are generally easier to control while displacement hulled boats generally track (go in a straight line) better. So, for example, while paddling a flat section of a river a displacement hulled boat is less apt to veer to one side or the other but when it does it is more difficult to correct it back to going straight. Whereas a planing hulled boat is more likely to veer but will also be easier to correct.

Most planing-hulled boats and some displacement boats have flat sterns with “edges”. Lazy technique can lead to getting flipped. That is called “catching an edge”. Most modern boats require more exact technique than older boats.

Because they are typically shorter than displacement hulls, planing hulled boats are slower. This means you will have to start some moves sooner when going down river. It also means you will be slower in the flat water sections of the river compared to people with longer boats. On the other hand, as the length of a boat increases, the leverage the water has against you increases to the exponential power of 3. Displacement hulls grab the water much more than planing hulls. So a shorter planing hull has more margin for error when crossing eddy lines.

Q: What size boat should I buy?

A: Most boats have a suggested paddler weight range. While those numbers can be misleading, they are still a good general guide to start with. If possible choose a boat where your weight is at the low end of the weight range. This will result in a boat that sits higher in the water. It will be easier to control and you will be less likely to catch an edge. Be sure as well that the boat has enough rocker (raised bow and stern) to keep the bow from plowing into the water when ferrying or paddling forward.

You should try out as many boats as possible before you buy. Be sure it fits you and it is a boat you enjoy paddling. Also remember that most boats are going to need outfitting (putting in foam hip pads and the like) before they fit you well.

Q: What specific brands and models would you suggest?

A: Here is a partial list of boats available on the used market that you should consider. If you find a boat you don’t know about, ask someone else with experience. Or better yet, ask several people and get a diversity of opinion.

Wave Sport: X, Z, EZ series, Siren, Evo

Pyranha: Inazone series

Riot: Superstar/Showbiz, 007, Grind, Booster series

Dagger: Showdown/Outlaw/Honcho, Redline/Infrared, GT series

Perception: Jib, Method/Method Air, Sonic, Supersonic

Necky: Jive

If you decide you want a displacement-hulled boat then consider the following:

Dagger: RPM/RPM Max, Animas/Piedra

Wave Sport: Kinetic, Godzilla

Q: Where can I get a used boat?

A: Check first to see if any local paddlers have boats for sale. Just asking around and putting out the word will often turn up something.

On the internet there are a variety of sources of used boats. One of the best is the Gear Swap page of http://boatertalk.com. Also check out http://www.mountainbuzz.com and http://www.kayakonline.com.

There are also commercial companies that have used boats like:

Outdoorplay (http://www.ourdoorplay.com)

Nantahala Outdoor Center (http://www.noc.com/ss/saleboat.htm)

Northwest River Supplies (http://www.nrsweb.com/swap/Display.asp)

Boats are regularly placed for bid on http://www.ebay.com.

Some commercial companies also place ads on the Gear Swap page.

You have some good advice here, Donna…
…and remember, you are always welcome to try

my Prijon Performance + Ron has a few boats

as well.

Next week let’s try to make the white-water warehouse wednesday trip and try a boat from Bernie.

Pirouette and Pirouette S are amongst
the very best boats for general river running. The excellent performance of the Pirouettes on slalom courses illustrates this excellence. Modern “planing” hull boats are mostly total pigs on a slalom course. Grant Amaral used a Pirouette to run the extremely difficult Stehekin Canyon.

Some of the modern “planing” hulls are also good all-purpose river runners. But NONE of them will get you down heavy whitewater better than the Pirouettes.

I can’t Pirouette, but I have a Chopper
I have a Chopper and my daughter has a Prijon Creeker 225, it seems to be the planing hull version of the Embudo). We like Prijon boats better than all other brands we have or have tested. Our Prijons are outfitted from the factory on par with our Pyrana playboats (i.e. racketing backbands etc.)

An important aspect that has not been addressed above is paddler comfort. Ignore manufacturer statements about whitewater boats being river runners - that is only true if the rivers are less than three miles long. Most current=short whitewater boats require that your feet be horizontal to the water and stay that way for the duration of your paddle. I find this hard on the knees after awhile. Most creek boats on the other hand have the volume required to allow comfortable foot and leg movement. This extra volume is handy for stowing lunch, cameras, food, water, clothing, candy and also keeps the boat on top the water. The trade-off with the volume is giving up most playboat moves except surfing and window shading.

I use the Chopper for its better tracking, speed and cargo handling over our other creek boats. The shorter more rockered creek boats turn on a dime but I haven’t had a problem following them. I think the LWL between the boats is closer than the LOA. We regularly use our creek boats on little muddy creeks with just a few inches of water, on lakes, in marshes, and on rivers. I don’t think they are overkill at all; they are well built, nicely outfitted, comfortable and maneuverable.

The Chopper is my boat of choice for anything that doesn’t involve an overnight or going out on a lake with everyone in long boats (sorry for the family terminology- I don’t know what else to call them. The Chopper at 10’ is the longest short boat and the Carolina 12’ is the shortest long boat).

Other boats like the Creeker: Dagger Nomad (smaller backband), Perception Java (seat controls are behind the seat)

Take this advice with a grain of salt
Slalom performance is not a measure of river running performance. The criteria for slalom are very different from the criteria for someone who wants to get down the river safely, in control, and enjoy the trip. The two of us have sparred back and forth on these issues with the usual result of dispute between curmudgeons. Here is the real truth. :slight_smile:

True creekboats are not what you want. They are at their best when the descent is very steep. On ordinary rivers they are dogs. True playboats are also out of the question. They have edges that are lower on the boat, which is great for doing tricks and lousy for river running. You would be miserable. River running creekboats are probably exactly what you want. Something like a Wave Sport Diesel in your size is a terrific boat. And it gets better when the water gets bigger. I guarantee you will not flip as much in a Diesel as you will in a pirouette. They are both easy to roll. My personal preference is a river running playboat but I have learned to handle edges. Mostly, I don’t care about roaring down the river as fast as possible. I like to enjoy the features along the way (i.e., playing), I like to catch eddies and look around, and I don’t care if I am inefficient.

Perception Stikine
I had a Pirouette, it was one of my favorite ww boats of the 10-15 I’ve had over the past 20+ years. I currently have a Perception Stikine that fits and performs very much like the Pirouette. It’s a bit shorter but still has good speed. I don’t think Perception makes these anymore, but I occasionally see used ones advertised here. I use the Stikine for big water, comfortable cruising, teaching, and safety boating.

Next Wednesday works for me if it does for you. Although I probably wouldn’t buy from WWW, I guess I could test boats there. Doesn’t seem fair somehow; on the other hand they haven’t helped me much the times I was there, so I feel no loyalty to them. Will probably buy from Canoe Ky (knowledgable and very helpful) or Rock Creek when I go see my brother again in TN. Let me know about Wednesday.

Dr. Disco
Some of this helps, but when I read your list of good beginner boats and I see the Dagger Redline…

The Redline is the first ww boat I bought and it nearly ruined me for ww forever. Every little thing would flip me. I totally lost confidence in my paddling ability and became intimidated by the idea of EVER doing ww (and I still have a little of that feeling). Fortunately, I did buy used and was able to sell it for what I paid for it, but it really messed with my head. The Pirouette has been good “therapy” for me in that regard.

Having said that, I’m sure you know what you’re talking about. So I need a “river running creek boat”? Like the Diesel or maybe the Prijon Cross? Semi-planing or planing hull instead of displacement?

I have considered keeping the Pirouette and getting a planing or semi-planing hull as an addition to the fleet. But I do want something pretty “forgiving”.

Just rambling here… jump in as you wish.

Thanks, this is good to know. Might consider keeping the Pirouette and just adding to the fleet.

What is “window shading”?

Thanks for the info about Prijons, and for giving a different perspective on the creek boat issue.

I know I don’t NEED a creek boat; I just don’t know how it HURTS me to have a creek boat, and I thought you made some good points about why it works for you.

Might need to send me the link
I must be challenged, because I went all over that Necky website and couldn’t find out of production boats. Help!