Yesterday I had the pleasure of paddling a large Varun on the Upper Gauley. Some might think that the UG isn't the place to try a new boat out but I think it went really well. The Varun is Pyranha's river running boat. It is pretty much a Molan with longer ends. I am 6'1'' 205 lbs. I paddle a Medium Molan but for river running, the large does the trick. Bilbo said that moving the seats up in both boats makes the boat a totally new boat. However, this boat is 7'2'' and has about 60 gallons to work with. It is advertised that this boat can do it all and I would agree with that statement. Though this boat does it all, the playful side of it obviously doesn't compare to a true freestyle boat.
When I first got in the boat, I noticed how big it was. I could not double pump it because there was so much volume. I am sure some more experienced play boaters can double pump this boat with ease though. After trying to double pump, I moved on to rolling the boat. I was not fully outfitted in this boat but I still rolled it was ease. For some reason, the C to C roll was easier in this boat than the sweep roll. I am not an expert on boats so I cannot tell why.
As we came down to the first eddy, I carved right into it with ease. The edges on this boat are superb once you get to know them. A nice little play wave was in sight so I tried to see how well the boat caught play waves on the fly. As I coasted into it, I had too much speed any blew past it. It was probably my fault for being used to the Molan catching everything. I went a little bit down stream. I then attained back up really easily and I wasn't paddling too hard. I then tried again to catch the wave and this time, I coasted right over to it and caught it. I was still learning the edges and how to deal with the big stern but I got a couple of spins in. Front surfing was somewhat hard because the boat kept wanting to dive down. Once again, it was probably my fault because I was used to the Molan and not having to lean back so far.
As we came up to Intiation, I ran the creeking line on river left. there was a difficult boof but the boat handled it very nicely. When boofing in this boat (or any playboat for that matter) I had to really exaggerate the boof stroke by holding it longer than I would with a creek boat. Overall, the boat boofs very well. There were a couple of tricky boofs but the Varun handled it perfectly. I then had to try out to see whether or not this boat could punch holes well. I do not remember the name of the rapid but there was a wave then a big hole underneath it. I paddled hard towards the wave and hit it straight on. The bow of the Varun lifted up and I put in another stroke to take me over the wave. As I came into the hole, I lifted my knees up and put in another hard stroke and punched the hole. The final test was to see how the edges reacted on a pressure wave. I came into Pillow Rapid blindly (without scouting) I had seen pictures of the rapid though so I kind of knew what I was getting into. I punched two waves at the top then found out I was headed straight for the room of doom (too far left). I turned very quickly and hit the pressure wave perfectly. I rode that down to the bottom but flipped when the pressure wave disappeared into a hole. I did a back deck roll and quickly rolled back up in time to go left of the rock at the bottom.
Overall, I would say that this boat isn't my style but that it did its job. It could run the river very well. Beginners wanting a reliable boat that you can do a lot in, this is for you. It would be a perfect boat for someone's first run down the Ocoee. More experienced boaters might want to look at the freestyle boat for river running because it will also do the river running part pretty well, too, while getting more play in.
I am more than willing to answer any other questions about how I felt about the boat and I am sure Bilbo can add some of his thoughts about the actual design to this as well. Thanks!
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|25 Sep 2011 - 11:06||21972|
|11 Oct 2011 - 13:56||22098|
My first run in the Varun was on the Top Yough and the second was on the Upper Gauley. I thought the Gauley was a fine place to try out a new river/play boat. I try not to make general statements about the seating position of boats as it can definitely vary by model and paddler but I second the notion that the Varun paddles better in the forward notch. I paddled it a couple times on the Saint at 5+ feet over D this Spring and the stern was trippy and the bow wasn't as snappy going into eddys as I prefer. It did great on a 8' over D run after moving the seat into to the forward notch.
As someone that has been in between sizes on boats for a while now (190 lbs.), the medium Varun is a blessing. Me in a 5'10" boat is like paddling a slug but the large Molan had too much volume for me. I can easily throw ends in the medium Varun, surf without pearling, flat spin, etc. That's about all the playboating I do. I wouldn't say that any boat is more of a beginner/intermediate boat than another. If you want to run big water with more speed than a park and play boat allows or can only take one boat on a class IV trip, the Vaurn fits the bill well. If I wanted to hang with the kids at Hell Hole all day, I'd get a full-on playboat.
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