Instructor kayak

While at the ECCKF I noticed a lot of the visiting instructors had various boats they were using for instructing. Most noticeable were the explorers and the romanys but I also saw some point 65 whisky 16s, Wilderness Systems Zephyrs, Tempests and a few others.

I paddled the zephyr in 15.5 and 16ft and the plastic romany S and loved them both with slight edge going to the Zephyr. (mostly outfitting issues…and I flat out refuse to buy a yellow plastic kayak with riveted orange fiberglass coaming and one piece seat/backband which sucks)

So i was wondering what others prefer or have seen the most of as instructor boats?


As an instructor
I feel qualified to fix a seat until it’s comfortable. For me, I’d rather paddle the boat, not the seat. I’m in a well-weathered Explorer that I’ve installed a new backband and added a touch of padding. Fits fine and won’t break or entangle me during a re-entry.

Started seeing a lot of Zephyrs
lately around Nor Cal., instructors and touring guides. I probably noticed them because it’s what I paddle. I also suspect that they are ‘shop boats’ that may be used by more than one employee, and the excellent and easily adjustable outfitting lends them to multi-party use.

Last ocean class I took the instructor was in a Capella.

up here in MI
Explorers & Romanys also dominate.

Other boats I have seen instructors use (their personal boats - not outfitter/shop stock): Foster Silhouette,

Pintail, Romany Surf, Gulfstream, Impex Cat3, Avocet (glass & RM), Cetus LV, Avocet LV (glass), Qajariac, Aquanaut & Aquanaut LV.

a maneuverable kayak

In the NW, for the type of kayaking I like to do, the popular instructor choice is the Romany. For both work and play.

I’ve only seen a couple of instructors

– Last Updated: Apr-20-10 3:41 PM EST –

in IL and they both had Greenlander Pros I think they may be affiliated (get discounts and are authorized re-sellers) with the manufacturer in some way.

Prefer my own boat: QCC700
Aside from that Current Designs Caribou seems to be a common boat.

one of three
I’ve seen 1 of 3 basic setups:

  • instructor paddling their own boat, often a high end boat (often a British style boat, but of a brand sold through the shop they are affiliated with). They got a “pro deal” on it. This is what I mostly see for the instructors at regional events, like the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium.
  • Sometimes if the instructor is struggling to pay the bills, their own boat will be a well-used plastic boat that they have been paddling for years. Usually not bought at discount, and maybe not even of a brand sold by their shop. This is often the day to day instructors, often who are going to school and using teaching to pay for it.
  • instructor grabbing whatever is available at the teaching location (so what they are paddling may not be representative of what they like).

    In general, my feel is that instructors tend to like narrower boats than students. They are more comfortable with lower initial stability.

I have tried and tried and I just can’t get very comfortable in an explorer. I paddle a Tempest 170 now and love it. The Romany S is a very nice boat and I really liked the maneuverability and the size but the seat leaves a great deal to be desired for my sit bones. to be fair, I also haven’t really found a good foam seat arrangement that I like that much either. I do really like the idea of a fiberglass coaming on the plastic boat as this allows for thinner skirts like my Reed to fit well and stay on instead of sliding off a thicker rounder plastic coaming making a heavy rand skirt almost a necessity.

For maneuverability, I found the Zephyr to be outstanding as well. contrary to most posts, I thought the romany S had a slightly stronger secondary than the Zephyr. I also felt the Zephyr was a bit faster and was more versatile in the water. If I was going to have to keep up with 17 plus boats I feel the Zephyr would do a better job of keeping up. The seat is a no brainer.


Last year at ECCKF…
…I tried both the Tempest 17 ( you have now Brazil Brazil ? ) and the Zephyr 17. Liked them both, but you are right, didn’t like the seat in the Zephyr. I plan on replacing my Valley Aquanaut LV (plastic) with the HV version soon I hope. That is still my favorite of the three.

Instructor kayak
When I instruct, I use either my Pintail or an old plastic Skerray.

Why these instead of a longer or faster boat?

  1. They are both relatively slower, but speed over distance is unimportant when instructing novices or beginners, or even for skills refinement with intermediates–we’re not usually going any place distant. For speed over a short to medium distance, better forward paddling technique will easily trump a student in a faster boat–I can get where I need to be
  2. Maneuverability is key–I want to be able to get over to a student in trouble ASAP–and both these boats turn on a dime
  3. These boats are extremely easy to edge far over–great for demonstration
  4. Very stable–I don’t need to focus on my own boat when I’m trying to watch the students

    A Romany, an Avocet, or an Anas Acuta would fit these criteria as well, but I don’t have one of those.

A mix
I use my personal Romany that I bought used, or one of the company’s boats. We bought a new fleet this year and the two boats I picked for the guides are the Wilderness Systems Tempest 17 for all-day trips and the Wilderness Systems Zephyr 155 for half-day and instruction. If I didn’t already own a glass Romany, I’d buy a Zephyr 155 in glass. To me, the Romany feels more like an all-around boat, but the Zephyr is more playful and fun. We’re getting Maelstrom kayaks, so I may be changing up my personal choice.

They key for me when guiding or instructing is to have a boat that edges and turns easily for demonstration. I also want a boat that doesn’t weathercock, because rocks often get jammed in my skeg from demonstrating seal launches on the peddle beaches, and I’d rather not bother a client or student to get it out. A third important point for me is having a stable boat in rough water, because it feels reassuring to me to have that stability when rescuing someone.

I’ve seen lots of different boats used by the guides/instructors around here, so there doesn’t seem to be a standard. Three of us on the north shore own Explorers, and we’ve all used them to instruct out of, so maybe that’s the north shore of Lake Superior in MN standard. :slight_smile:

Cetus MV
The full size works fine for me but really looking forward to my MV coming in. There was one MV floating about that was a special order that a local paddler to here picked up while at ECCKF.

To bad I didn’t bump into you while in Charleston.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


– Last Updated: Apr-24-10 12:33 AM EST –

For a long time working with coaches who were not affiliated with boat dealers or manufacturers and were using their own boats Romanys and Explorers were so dominant that it was notable when a coach was in another model.

Since P&H started sponsoring so many, I now see more coaches in Cetuses and Capellas.

When coaches have traveled a distance to coach and do not have their own boat, they will use what is available with a preference for something maneuverable and responsive.

In my own experience, I find my Romany to my liking. It is also a boat in which I can place a student and have them beam with the ease of edging, rolling, etc...

One coach I know has been using an Alchemy which is a very fun and supportive boat.

Paul, contact Brent!

– Last Updated: Apr-25-10 10:06 AM EST –

Someone has taken over your account and is posting newbie questions in your name!

struggling to pay the bills
this guy paddles an old school plastic Necky Sport

:slight_smile: NM

Cetus MV
I can’t say anything against a Romany or Explorer, but I believe that I have found my boat for do everything! Cetus MV can be a Romany for coaching and an Explorer for tripping all in one really nice package!

leaning heavily towards one of the
plastic boats for instruction as I am in no hurry, and plan to have lots of bows scraping on my deck.

Very close to buying a Zephyr…