Kayak demo - tsunami, delphin

I have a small 10’ kayak and since I was looking for a kayak in 14-15 feet range, I demoed WS Tsunami 145 and P&H Delphin.

I am 5’10", 140#.

Delphin: 15’9" x 22.5"

Tsunami 145: 14.6" x 24.5"

Tsunami was perfect fit, even though by reading other messages I thought 135 would be better fit. It was easy to paddle, and I felt very comfortable.

Delphin was also fast and I did not have any stability issues even though it is narrower. The only problem was that with the skeg up, the kayak would just start turning around.

I had to paddle hard on one side only to stay on the line. Can someone explain the behavior, is it caused by my lack of experience or could it be something else?


The kayak is designed to be very
maneuverable. With time and practice paddling the Delphin in a straight line will become second nature.

The Delphin excels in rough water and is really the best use of the kayak. If you don’t plan on paddling in rough water a lot then you might be better off in the Tsunami.

The Tsunami 145 is huge

– Last Updated: Apr-26-12 3:41 PM EST –

I think it is way big for you, if you plan to get into edging and boat control. I had the 145 as one of my first boats and felt it was big (I'm 6'4" 190lb, size 15 shoe). I paddle the Delphin now and it is a better fit. My preference from wide and lose has changed towards a more snug (but not tight) fit.

For recreational use either is fine. Having a skeg is important in winds. The Tsunami does not have a skeg and the ruddered version has terrible sliding footpegs (can change to fixed ones with toe controls). For advanced paddling and to grow into kayaking, the Delphin is better especially if you plan on moving water or rough water.

For straight line paddling you want a hard tracking kayak, for anything else a maneuverable one is better. Having a skeg option on a maneuverable kayak sort of gives you both options in one package: drop the skeg and the Delphin tracks reasonably well, take the skeg out and it turns on a dime.

a little skills work

– Last Updated: Apr-26-12 4:28 PM EST –

A little skills work will go a long way. If you're paddling hard on one side, simply trying to not let it turn towards the side you're paddling on, some basic work will help a lot.

Take a few days to do nothing but maneuvering your kayak. Plant your paddle with your torso turned to the point where it feels wound up. Don't unwind until your paddle blade is fully planted, and you are prepared with the other end of the lever. By the other end of the lever, this is an example of what I mean. Imagine you're wound up, planting a stroke with your right hand, so there's tension in your torso, the blade is planted, and both feet are solidly on a foot brace. You want to turn towards the left. Especially when you're struggling to go straight, paying attention to other things, uncomfortable in conditions, etc., that tension can spread through your body. It's very easy to unwind with a lot of pressure on the left foot. That's part of the other end of the lever. You're applying pressure on the left hand side in a way that would prevent turning left, where keeping the pressure all on the right side with the right foot (you can also incorporate the left knee pushing against the left side of the kayak) would be most helpful. A lot of the twisting pressure will come from your butt and hips through the seat, but transferring some of the pressure to the legs properly can give a pretty significant extra edge.
Here is the next thing I usually see when I witness folks doing exactly what you're describing. They stop winding up with their torso, often stop rotating their torso altogether. Take a scenario again where you're struggling to turn to the left. When everything is going fine, without troubles traveling straight, when you take your left blade out after a left hand stroke, your torso is wound to plant and unwind with a stroke on the right. In the scenario where you're struggling to keep the boat from turning right, let's take what you described. You're paddling hard on one side. Typically what happens here, is when a person stops planting the paddle on the left, and twisting their torso for the stroke on the left side, they no longer set themselves up properly for a stroke on the right. The end of the left stroke would have left you set up with a torso twisted and in position to take a stroke on the right again. But now you're not doing the stroke on the left. What usually happens is the person stops twisting the torso back prior to planting the right blade, and keeps repeating the stroke on the right side without help from the torso. Their torso actually often remains twisted to the right the whole time, leaving their hips twisted a bit that way, leaving more pressure on the left foot during each stroke, resulting in relentless arm paddling producing no result.
When someone is in a highly maneuverable boat paddling on one side trying to turn, without results, it's very obvious that working on these mechanics is in order. And it's a fun activity, so I hope you have as much fun with it as I always have.

The thing about skills work like this is that as you advance, your impression of these kayaks can change quite a bit. Your favorite kayak often has as much to do with the skill level you bring to your kayak as any other factor. But I would bet if you're willing to take a few relaxed maneuvering days without the pressure of getting anywhere, you will advance a lot quite quickly.

the 145 is

– Last Updated: Apr-26-12 5:10 PM EST –

a big guy's boat. really big guys! try the 140, it will be a better fit for you. you would also fit in the 135 but it is a significantly smaller-volume hull, which you might like right away or it may take some getting used to.

keep demoing different brands/models till you find the one that fits your size and paddling desires -- there's lost to choose from in your target size range.

the Delphin is really a different class of kayak and not directly comparable to the Tsunami.

Great thoughts!
2nd that: “…as you advance, your impression of these kayaks can change quite a bit. Your favorite kayak often has as much to do with the skill level you bring to your kayak as any other factor”

I’ll second
or third the idea that the 145 is big – I did demo one when I was buying my first – it is huge in the front part of the cockpit – I’m 6’2" and 175lb. Don’t settle, try more.

Regarding a turny boat, I demoed a Liquid Logic XP10 last season which has a whitewater hull (mostly), and after paddling sea kayaks, I felt that it was way too turny (w/ skeg up). I did enjoy it’s ability to turn upstream with one stroke and so demoed it some more and eventually got one. Interestingly, my first time on the water this season was in the XP10, and it didn’t even occur to me to put the skeg down – so it goes to show that you can get used to “turny” pretty quickly. (Even so, that doesn’t mean your intended use is best served by turny.) Demo until you just can’t stand not owning a boat anymore! (Just my few cents.)

As above and …

– Last Updated: Apr-27-12 1:03 PM EST –

3rd or 4th - the Tsunami 145 (oops - typed 140) is too big for you. It felt comfortable because you don't yet have time in on really learning to fit into a boat for control. That said, you might be a little long in the leg for the 135 even though your weight is right. But there are plenty of boat makers

It is a large middle ground between the Tsunami and very turny Delphin. While your issue paddling straight was your own technique, you might want to look for something with the fit and fun fun quality of the Delphin, but with a little more interest in tracking straight.

Thanks everyone for your advice, it is really useful.

I cannot do much about improving my skills now, since I only have my 10’ kayak.

I would certainly like to test more kayaks, but here in Houston sit on top ones dominate, so it is hard to find longer sit in kayaks to test.

Kayak demo last weekend had about 30 sit on top kayaks, and only two sit in!

Occasionally some kayaks show in craigslist, but I am not even sure what to look for.

It surprised me that so many of you said that tsunami 145 was too big for me - I did not have that feeling at all. It was probably because I was coming from 10’x30" one…

Sit on top? Why not?
Epic Kayaks is (hopefully) coming up with their V6 sit on top, which appears to be based on the hull of their 16x sit in. Not listed on their site yet but do a search here and on google and you will find some photos and a handful of videos.

For hot climates a sit on top is a great option, IMO. In the summer in the DC area I much prefer using a sit on top (surf ski in my case) than my sit-in due to the heat (and ease of use and less equipment needed (no skirt, no pump).

Fit in a kayak
Proper fit to make a boat do anything other than go forward involves 3 points of contact - butt, feet/footpegs and thigh braces. Your current rec boat lacks the third part of the equation because it isn’t intended to do what a touring boat will do. If you tried to brace aggressively with it you’d quickly discovered that you lacked good purchase to right it, but that’s not what people usually try to do in rec boats.

Tsunami 145 vs 140
The 145 is a high volume version of the 140.

As someone else said, fit isn’t a matter of the length and width of the boat. When I was 240# I could not comfortably fit in wife’s Tsunami 140 and had trouble getting in and out of it when it was on dry land. The 145 fit much better. If your #100 lighter than I was and the same height you shouldn’t be in the 145, try the 140.

Tsunami 135
If you can check out the Tsunami 135 then do so. I’m 6’ and 188 lbs and paddled one for three days on the Hudson river. It was snug but I managed just fine. It’s more like a small sea kayak then a rec. boat. With your size it could work well.

Beware of dealers that will try and sell you anything. Usually they put people in kayaks that have way too much volume. Unless your camping and doing multiple days that extra volume is more of a burden than anything.

Dagger Alchemy…
Kind of splits the difference between the Delphin and Tsunami; stable comfortable boat, that will spin on a dime, but with skeg down will track pretty well.

Tsunami 145 is too big…unless…
I have a Tsunami 145 and it IS too big for me…in most cases. The exception is when I go camping. It is an excellent cargo carrier, and its handling and performance are rather impressive when its really loaded down.

I’m getting a sleeker sea kayak…but I’ll be keeping the Tsunami for longer excursions.

Just something else to consider…

Consider the Expression 14.5
I agree with others that the Tsunami 145 is too big. My first boat was a Tsunami 140 and I’m 6’ 1", 220. It was snug but it felt a lot better to me than the 145.

I recently tried a Perception Expression 15 at our local demo day and was very impressed. It has a softer chined hull that was easier to edge and more hull rocker which made it much more maneuverable. It tracked well for me without the skeg but having one allows you to adjust it to suit conditions and your skill level.

The Expression 14.5 might be a good size for you and it is very reasonably priced. It seemed to be a good all around touring boat that you shouldn’t outgrow quickly, like I did with my Tsunami.

I outgrew
my Tsunami in two weeks. Ended up in a Zephyr and I am very happy. But I have paddled all my life (open boats) and I was frustrated by the Tsunami in moving and rough water. It is a bear to turn. So it depends on your experience level and the kind of paddling you do.

Me too!
I also replaced my Tsunami with a Zephyr 160. The instructor at the basic safety class my wife and I took when we bought the Tsunami’s was in a Zephyr, and I was hooked by how maneuverable his boat was compared to mine. (Not counting the extreme difference in skill levels!). Am enjoying the Zephyr very much, this boat makes me work to improve my paddling skills.

Many good suggestions here, thanks for taking time to give your opinions.

I think that my observations are skewed based on my lack of experience. The testing might not be useful for me because I would not be able to conclude much. My testing should be limited to see if I could get a proper fit.

I see that recommended kayaks in 14-15 range are Delphin (slightly longer), Expression, Alchemy, Zephyr.

Testing and beginners -

– Last Updated: Apr-29-12 8:51 AM EST –

There is some truth to what you are saying. Testing is hard if you have never been in a kayak before. At least that is what I found. For example, if you are the type of person that is likely to spend the time and energy needed to develop your skills to a great extent you might find that a boat that feels uncomfortably tippy at first begins to feel very comfortable to you after just a few weeks. The fact that the boat has that tippy feeling forces you to develop your paddle and balance skills more quickly than you would in another boat that may actually feel better to you in the very beginning. On the other hand, if you are just out to paddle around the ponds and gentle rivers and you are not concerned or interested in more challenging conditions - which is perfectly fine by the way - then that very stable boat feeling may be perfect for you. In that case a more advance hull would be awful for you and it would take all the fun out of the sport. There are many many people who are extremely happy with the Tsunami in a size that fits.