Perception Pirouette Kayak Review

Big boats by today's whitewater kayak standards, the Pirouette series of kayaks by Perception are classic river runners. The Pirouette models were build for speed and handling. While not the gymnast many of the new play boats are, the three Pirouette models are fun to paddle.


At 11 feet 2 inches, the Pirouette standard model, longest of the three Pirouette variants features a rotomolded plastic hull with flat hull and rails and enough rocker to give the Pirouette good maneuverability. While a bit tipsy, the secondary stability of this boat is excellent. With a large volume, 24 inch beam and large cockpit, the Pirouette is a good choice for larger intermediate level paddlers up to 250 lbs. A speedy boat, the Pirouette is a standout performer in the slalom gates and the surf.

Pirouette S

Two inches shorter than the standard Pirouette, the “S” version is designed for surf and whitewater play. The smaller volume, 23 inch beam and large cockpit will still accommodate a 200 lb paddler, but adjusts comfortably for paddlers as small as 100 lbs. The low profile deck and the Pirouette's pronounced rocker give it standout maneuverability and enable you to roll back up quickly if flipped.

Pirouette Super Sport

Shorter still, at 9 feet 11 inches, the Pirouette accommodates paddlers from 80 to 180 lbs. In the surf or whitewater, the Pirouette has solid secondary stability. With its shorter length and its concave deck, the Pirouette maneuvers quickly, rolls easily and is more able to pull off stunts like popping enders or pulling stern squirts than its longer brothers.


The Pirouette models, discontinued by Perception in the late 90s, were longer than the whitewater kayaks of recent years. They track well compared to their shorter brethren and are faster in big water and surf, while losing little in maneuverability thanks to the pronounced rocker in the Pirouette hull. A racer by nature these boats excel at fast peel-outs and quick ferries, which is why they were popular slalom competitors.