Classic Romany/Wilderness System Tempest 165

I recently heard (from a dealer) that Wilderness System patterned their Tempest 165 after the NDK Classic Romany. The surely paddle similarly. Has anyone else heard this or discovered this?

Steve (handle - Flatpick) from Alder Creek would be offended to read this, although he hasn’t been on these forums in years. As the designer of the tempest, his enthusiasm was bit over top. The Tempest series was whole new “loaf of bread” from his perspective. What counts is that the majority of the Tempest owners like their boats.

If you do a search of Tempest and Flatpick on this site, you’ll find a lot of Steve/Flatpick discussing/promoting the Tempest series.



Romany has way more rocker. I have rarely heard of paddlers needing to tame the bow in some conditions because a Tempest did an unexpected 270 spin on top of a wave in wind. I saw that happen in my husbands Romany. A somewhat convoluted rescue ensued.

I like both boats and would happily recommend either. They are both pretty kind on rolling.

But l agree with Sing. Flatpick may have wanted to get to a boat with the kind of head room the Romany had. But he was quite serious about his designs and l think saying modeled after is a step too far. I still remember how delighted he was at a demo day when people were getting a first crack at a pair of wonderful truly small sea kayaks he had designed. We were coming in telling him the boat was quite wonderful. Turns out he had battled WS to get this pair of boats produced.


I texted you.

I’ve been looking for rocket stats for the Classic Romany. Seems to be scrubbed on descriptions of the boat now. Used to be readily avail for most sea kayaks.

Who did you text and how?


What sing said.

Those two kayaks share some traits, such as maneuverability and good secondary stability. But they are NOT twins or even peas in a pod.

Tempest 165 (I owned one) handled in a more balanced way, IMO. What I mean is that backpaddling the 165 was as easy as normal forward paddling. Very nice when the shortest way to help a capsized paddler was for me to backpaddle to her. The next closest person paddled forward but was a little farther away. I didn’t need to spend even a moment turning 180, and I got to her side first.

The Romany LV that I borrowed for five days was the champ for extremely edged, tight turns. I had fun doing circles with it, just to see how small a turning radius I could get. The large amount of rocker, low deck, and small keyhole allowed me control I had never come close to in any other kayak before that. I would rate it as a bit “slower” than the longer Tempest 165 (15’9” vs 16’6”). Also, for me it had a tendency toward leecocking, possibly because of the cockpit/seat being farther back than midway.

So to me, the Tempest 165 worked very well all around, including 5- to 9-day camping trips around large lakes. But the Romany LV remains the boat I always think of first when “playful” is mentioned.

While we are on the topic of excellent sea kayaks for smaller paddlers, check out the P&H Capella that has the 21.5” beam and is 16’1” or 16’3” long. They made them in more lengths than that and I can’t remember if the one I used was 16’1” or 16’3”. That boat would need padding out for small paddlers. But even with too much space for me, it still handled beautifully, including rolling.

The Romany LV deck was low enough that barely any padding would be needed, and the Tempest 165 came with excellent adjustable thigh pads and general outfitting.


Sometimes its easy to pull up the models and compare.

Its good to hear first hand reactions regarding handling.

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The keyholes are similar as are the boats. Granted the Tempest 165 is a few inches longer. Have you looked at both boats side by side? Have you paddled both? I have.

However, my original query was if anyone had heard what a WS rep had said.

Referring to others designs is not uncommon with enough changes to avoid copyright infringement.

Read my post again. I owned and paddled a Tempest 165. I used a Romany LV in a 5-day kayak class. The keyholes ARE different. Note that I specifically wrote “165” and “LV”. The LV cockpit is much narrower than standard cockpits, including that of the regular Romany or any Tempest.

I don’t need to look at the 165 next to an LV. I know from paddling them that they are shaped and sized differently, and without even seeing side views of either boat, the difference in rocker manifested itself by how the boats FELT when paddling.

The salesperson you talked to may or may not have paddled either boat much, or they might be comparing one of the higher-volume Romany models to the 165. I still don’t think they’re that similar; see Celia’s post also, about a bigger Romany than the LV. All the Romanys have pronounced rocker. The Tempest does not.

I don’t believe what car salesmen say, either.

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Are The LV and Classic Romany the same?

No. And the LV cockpit is 3 to 4 inches shorter than the standard one, as well as narrower.

One thing to keep in mind is that NDK made enough changes that one Romany model might not be the same as another of the same model but different year.

Celia’s Jim was not a chunky guy, but I doubt he could’ve shoehorned himself into the LV. The difference was not in just the keyhole, but also in deck height.

This thread, Pikabike, is not about the discontinued LV but about the Classic with keyhole cockpit.

I was going to leave this off but the Romany is a fairly old boat that remains both well respected and popular despite its age. Newer paddlers who find these available for sale are not likely to know a lot of this.

I have the classic, I paddle Jim’s most days in Maine because of the safety margins for paddling solo. I could measure it if anyone wanted. It is on stands in the back yard.

However what pikabike said re the maneuverability compasred to the Tempest 165 is correct. Romany has more rocker. Way.

It also matters to be clear about how NDK created the LV boats in that era, for folks who have since had access to truer lower volume boats like the Tempest 165. NDK did NOT change the volume of the hull. They simply lowered the deck and shortened the reach to the foot braces so that a smaller person had good control. The hull under that is exactly the same hull as the regular size.

It was an imperfect approach for smaller people. But NDK was the only manufacturer of sea kayaks even making this effort at the time. The reason the original Romany in all sizes was so popular was that it was also extremely maneuverable due to the rocker and loose bow. And these boats have the ability to stand on a ridiculous edge without capsizing. I have been over in waves that would have gone to capsize in any other boat in both the Romany and the Explorer LV (also regular hull with lowered deck). These NDK boats came back up again and the paddling continued. Meanwhile the Romany could be oversized in volume and still spin on a dime for a small person who took a deep edge.

Nor is anyone likely to understand the wonder of this design unless they have had this (or it cousin the Explorer) in surf or higher level conditions. Like the conditions that leave new paddlers on the beach. This IS the reason I have made Jim’s Romany my primary boat for solo paddling. My other sea kayak is an excellent boat and I have had a ball bouncing thru haystacks up to my head without having to worry about capsizing, albeit also old. But for all around head room the Romany is better even if slower and having that bow that is loose enough I weight it a bit. I have had the Romany and the Explorer in surf, in winds up to 30+ mph land speed (OK, bad weather judgement on my part) and on the side of waves I could not see over.

IMO there is also a slight diff in rolling. The Tempest 165 is a wonderfully willing boat for rolling. But the Romany goes one step further and will try and finish the roll once halfway up without much help from the paddler, as long as you keep your head down. I have pretty much lost my left side roll and the right is not sure. But June before last I spent some time with a coach on this. As long as someone was standing there I came up every time on the right even having not kept my roll up for a couple of years. Pretty sure I got some help from the Romany on a few of those.

There ARE boats out there that one look tells you they started from the Romany dimensions. One is a boat that had I think three models, beautiful layups, and in fact the designer was the same guy who was involved in designing the NDK Romany. Allen. I am blanking on the brand but older paddlers may remember these.

I disagree - lots - with the statement about stealing and copyright infringement. This takes it all into a suggestion of criminal actions and the kayak industry is challenged enough without going to that kind of aspersion.

There is a difference between a chat between two people that is of possible historical interest and using that information to elevate the spectre of inappropriate behavior a couple of decades later. About a good boat like the Tempest 165 that has helped a lot of paddlers get on the water.

I am sure that many thoroughbred owners take a look at the new crop of foals and compare their confirmation to that of Man o’ War, or Native Dancer or Secretariat. In hopes that their colt or filly might have some of the attributes that made these iconic racers so special.

The Romany at the time it was introduced was the most successful schooling boat anyone had put on the water, able to get a new paddler home safely thru terribly challenging stuff but do all the maneuvers a very advanced paddler wanted in the soup. The guy who ran Maine Island Kayak would swap new paddlers into his Explorer - often on the water - and take their boat if things got messy. Because the Explorer would get them home. He was in it to start with because it was also a fantastic rescue platform with that Romany-inspired stability curve. I have heard other similar stories.

So if someone took a look at the Romany to see what dimensions may have contirbuted to this performance, all it means is that they are paying attention to how a great design may work.

This is more often done by computer now, the personally done trial and error moments of the older designs are largely in the past. But there are some fantastic designs that happened that way - others like the Mariner boats and likely a few more I have forgotten. Someone mentioned the WS Alchemy boats, those were the ones Flatpick convinced WA to produce and were also outstanding designs.


Like I said, I thought Steve/Flatpick can be a bit over top. But, never would I spread an aspersion of him “copying” something and presenting it as his own. The search of the old threads would have divulged 4-5 years (~2004-2009) of discussions where Flatpick pushed his design, while others questioned or challenged some element of the Tempest design or outfitting. Apparently, a search requires too much effort.



Poked the hornets nest, huh?

I didnt ask for opinions, sing, I asked if anyone knew what I heard from a reputable source.

Splashing designs isnt new. We personally know canoe designers who have had their designs splashed.

And my answer is that you could have seen the info from the designer’s mouth, rather just relying on your “dealer’s” hearsay. Not a “hornet’s nest” for me. I ain’t got skin in this game. Just don’t much care for the lack in fairness in the original post.



Same as Sing. Frankly I happen to know that you have not had the Romany in many of the conditions I described and cannot roll. So a fair amount of your comparison between these two boats is on the lean side anyway.

Flatpick/ Steve Scherrer can be contacted personally at if you want to talk directly with the designer rather than carry second hand conversations and innuendo onto this board. It just took me all of three minutes to find this link.

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