REVIEW: PYRANHA OCTANE / THINK NITRO
With manufacturers turning their attention to introducing polyethylene surfskis and lowering the financial entry barrier for the sport, this is an exciting time for the growth and popularity of surfski. Doing so will open the door to surfski performance for paddlers everywhere, leading to, what I suspect may be a rapid increase in those using these versatile and fun craft.
Although polyethylene surfskis have been available elsewhere in the world for some time, they have had limited distribution here in North America … until now. In short order we have seen Epic Kayaks debut their polyethylene V7 and V5 surfskis and now Pyranha has partnered with Think to launch the Pyranha Octane / Think Nitro.
The first thing you notice about the Octane is its good proportions and pleasing appearance. It’s a good-looking boat that has not been softened too much from its Think composite stable mates. At less than 21 inches wide, it’s somewhat narrower than its competition and a little longer too, resulting in a striking presence. Unique to this ski, is its ability to add the P&H kayak sail system for even more versatility. The Octane is also well equipped with an easily accessible day hatch; water bottle holder; comfortable and easily adjustable footboard; a quick deployable and fast acting bailer; great carry handles; ample cut-aways for an aggressive catch; full size stern Kajaksport hatch and the ability to easily jump from an under stern rudder to a kick up rudder for shallow water use. All these features not only make the Octane versatile but also extremely practical for a wide variety of situations and environments.
But it’s on the water where the Octane really stands out. Once seated, I found the bucket to be extremely comfortable with legroom sufficient for someone up to about 6’6” and not excessively wide that I would be bouncing around when in the rough. Although the bucket is deep, remounts were a piece of cake. The good-sized footplate is padded, easily adjustable and extremely comfortable, although there was some unnecessary flex on really hard efforts. The Debrito bailer opened and closed easily with a little kick of the heel and a fully flooded boat drained moderately quickly at cruising speeds. While paddling, the bucket provided the support I was looking for without being over bearing, which allowed for good rotation and leg drive. The cutaways at the catch area were perfectly positioned too. The bottom-line is that the Octane never encumbered my ability to paddle well.
Under power, the Octane immediately felt familiar to me. Upon examination, it looks although there are some strong influences from the best selling P&H Hammer, which is a boat I have spent a great deal of time in. The mid-section beneath you features a flat-ish hull with defined rails running from near your feet back to almost the tip of the stern, while moving forwards, the hull radiuses nicely. The Octane is easy to paddle and glides surprisingly nicely up to moderate speeds but as you’d expect from a plastic boat of this type, it does hit a wall hard where additional speed is hard to find, (all be it at speeds most users of this boat will never hit.) After all is said and done, the Octane is a boat that will keep you efficiently zipping around at surprisingly good speeds, all day long and in comfort.
Once in the bumps and rough water, the Octane continues to show its prowess as a great platform for those exploring this element. The ample volume and stability kept the boat moving and dry thru confused water, allowing the bailer to do its work. Jumping onto some bumps, the 7” under stern rudder was perfectly in tune with the boat on low speed surfs and the boat responded instantly in part also thanks to its rocker profile. On technical surfs, the weight of the boat ultimately stopped me from pushing the boat into some situations but once again, these are situations that the likely buyer of this boat is unlikely to encounter. Although I have yet to be able to paddle the Octane on some whitewater with the optional kick up rudder, I think this boat would be a hoot to play with in this environment.
So putting everything together, I can honestly say that the Octane is a fantastic platform. The collaborative effort between the teams at Pyranha and Think have created a winner that has not been detuned from its composite siblings to the point of numbness while still offering a fun and inviting platform. I would add an Octane to my quiver for friends to use as an introductory platform and for me to try taking a surfski into environments I would otherwise not be willing to take my composite boat into. These new polyethylene skis truly do offer all the fun and versatility that their composite stable mates do but at a fraction of the price. This is an exciting time for the sport.
Length: 17’ 8”
Weight: 51 lbs.
Optimal Weight Range: 130-253lbs
Construction: Pyranha Corelite polyethylene
A good balance between sporty and stability
Deep comfortable bucket
Did I mention, fun!
Some flex in the footplate on hard efforts
Tiny carrying handles fine for tying the boat down but uncomfortable for carrying