"New" Zephyr 15..5

-- Last Updated: Oct-18-10 9:28 AM EST --

You may recall my recent thread about Tempest 165 vs. 170 (http://paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=advice&tid=1333912).

At the end I decided to get the Zephyr 15.5 (poly). After a long and somewhat eventful drive it is finally in the garage. Will be on the water shortly -;)

Just wanted to share that I do fit in the cockpit just fine. It is a 2010 model so no need to move the seat or foot rails to accomodate my 6'4" height. Barefoot that is. EDIT: turned out (after a couple of paddling sessions) I don't fit well enough without moving the seat or the foot rails a couple of inches away from each other, after all. With my regular WW shoes I can't really fit at all I doubt the position will be comfortable even if I moved the footpegs even further - due to the low deck I'd need to probably point my toes too much forward (a "normal" V does not fit - the boat is too narrow -;)

The cockpit opening is actually wide enough to allow knees together paddling, but there is no adequate foot support in the center for that. Plus the thigh braces protrude a bit too much to the inside and will probably result in rubbing after a short while paddling with a knee in the center (one at a time). They can be adjusted out of the way, but then they would not be in the best position for support...

The seat side supports appear to be just a little wider than they are in the Tempest 165, or may be I was able to adjust the hip pads somehow more forward, so that I actually have a perfect fit width-wise (where in the T165 I was a bit squezed by the pads and they would pinch me in).

I can carefully sit seat first, which I could not do in the T165 - the fit is more relaxed here but less BIG than the Z160.

One other thing I noticed is that the skeg (I think it is still the old style) appears to be somewhat non-kink. Probably barely so and I would not subject it too often to that treatment, but seems to slide in and out when pushed/pulled from the blade with very little resistance (and the slider moves accordingly). Not sure how that will change once it is wet though...

Can't wait for a couple of hours break to try it on the water!

But first, a question: the seat pad rear tends to flap over forward when the seat back slides down during boat entry or rolling. I think I've seen that area taped on another kayak and will see if the owner will share what he used. Anyone has any suggestions how to affix that flap to the seat pan? Tape? Glue?

Seat flap…
…I thought that it was just mine…guess not.

Well, after agonizing over it for a few months I realized that I didn’t feel it when it was flipped over and I was sitting on it and though it was not pretty and somebody looking at it might form an opinion of the boat and maybe me I realized that I just didn’t care. I never got to the point of gluing it or somehow trying to tack it down. Maybe now that you have brought it up I’ll think about doing it.

Nah! If I do anything to that seat I will just replace it with a carved minicell seat like I put in my Tempest.



what kind of deal
did you score, if you don’t mind me asking, and what was the condition? have only seen one for sale before so no idea what it might go for used.

Had a chance to paddle for an hour today. I did not feel the flap too, but I could feel the backband scraping and trying to get around it when doing lay-back rolls. Just concerned that would wear them off quickly…

The "deal"
Paid $899 total (no tax on demo equipment apparently) to EMS for this 2010 model + some gas, toll, and coffee to get there to pick it up.

Overall perfect condition except a LOT of scratches on the bottom and a few on the deck. And a few gouges on the bow edge - whoever used that boat did not bother to slow down when hitting rocks with the bow.

I don’t think this was a “great” deal but that’s what I could find without having to wait an indefinite amount of time for another “deal” to pop-up or drive for more than a day.

Two weeks earlier, I missed a “$600 OBO” deal on Craig’s list in NC for a very good condition (probably better than mine) '08.

EMS had brand new 2010 Tempest 170 on the floor for 30% off the $1600 sticker. A local paddler just sold his 1 year old '09 Tempest 170 for $500, which is rather cheap I thought as they usually go for b/w $700 and $900 depending on condition in my area.

You decide …

First paddle -:wink:
Could not resist, so I took the Z for an hour on the water on the way to work today. Same place where I tried the Zephyr 160 and the Tempest 165 recently. The water levels were down but there was still a hole or two to surf and enough current to figure out how things stand with the Z155.

I think the Zephyr 15.5 is more similar to the 160 than to the Tempest 165, IMO (having not paddled either for more than a couple of hours).

Both Zs I though turned a little more readily than the T, especially the bows were easier to swing about.

Both Zs have notably higher secondary stability. The T 165 edges nicer with less effort than either Z. By this I mean a good enough edge to get the boat turning well - the Z needs a little “help” to edge to the same degree to induce a tight turn. For this reason, I think the T 165would be the better choice for “open water” and generally most “touring” kind of uses. And it probably is a little “faster”.

But for playing in rather rough conditions I think the Z has the edge. It’s just a bit easier to control and a little less “demanding” of the paddler. And I’m talking really strong currents with eddies, surfing, lots of white foam, where the added stability is a bonus - I can paddle more and spend less effort on balance, which means I’m less likely to miss an eddy turn or to drop off the wave.

Due to the short length, I found out I can control the surfing speed (e.g. the position on top of the foam pile on the wave) with my weight - leaning forward and back. Very nice and precise -:wink:

From surfing small standing foamy and green water waves, I thought the Z was less likely to broach than the T165. In the rapids, the Z required less attention when entering/exiting eddies - the T required rather lose hips or asked for a brace, where the Z is less affected by the currents. This is due to the hull shape and not only the added stability - the Z is less boxy, with more flare especially away from the cockpit area. The Tempests also have pinched ends where the Zs have full ends and I think that helps in moving water.

For me I thought the Z160 was more neutral in wind than the Z 15.5 or the T165 that both had the stern a little more willing to swing about.

To me both Zs rolled “nicer” than the T165, meaning the added secondary stability helps me get up. Balance brace was very easy to. I am tall and for me this added stability is a bonus. For a shorter or lighter person the T may be easier to roll for the same reason -:wink:

Great little boat -:wink:

Sapien …
Did not realize you are local. You are welcome to try mine if you are indeed in the N. VA area. Angler’s on the Potomac is 10 minutes away from me and that’s where I paddle most often (it’s on the way to/from work so no extra time spent commuting). I sometimes go to the Pirates of Georgetown paddles on Thursday evenings, usually off Columbia Island marina.

And did I mention - hatches are dry
In fact, not a drop in any of the three storage compartments after some rolling and a lot of submerging of the front one during surfing some white water standing waves today. Nice surprise…

And yes, the skeg rattles and is a little curved as have been the skegs on all 5 or so Tempests and Zephyrs I’ve looked at lately (though less so then some of the others)…

very cool…
interesting to get detailed descriptions on how you percive the Z155. Its very playful and nice.if i were to go out in a storm or something, id take the tempest165. i were lucky to catch a storm on “my lake”

this summer, being able to get in and out of the wind…backsurf/ferryglide or something…or straight surf…here the tempest behaved fantastic. i was sitting inside the foam kind of instead of being pushed into the breaking roller in front of me…and the tempests carateristics came in very handy at the beginning of the storm with some serious gusts…

laYING Flat on the front deck, steering with the vibrating greenlandpaddle…it was awesome…hehe.

really glad you liked it…i too have mine now in a little creak nearby…just to practice rolling in icewater…

Getting off topic…
So, guys, what’s the Tempest 165’s reputation for surfing? I ask because I had my first experience in the ocean, with a little surfing, last weekend. It was great fun, but, I couldn’t help wondering if my own inexperience was the only reason for a few of the dumps I took in surf. It does seem that a boat with more defined chines might do better.

i think…
the tempest has plenty of “BITE”. you know what i feel.

Its quite lowvolume and narrow at the rear. That plus fishform…and flat narrow V under cockpit and fairly hard chines and boxy area…i think its awesome…not as playful as a romany og pintail perhaps -

Had the Z in some 20 mph+ winds and up to about 3ft wind chop and I got a question for you who own one.

Found out that without a skeg the kayak was almost neutral with barely any tendency to weathercock (turn upwind).

With just a tiny skeg it became neutral and anything over 1/3 skeg would make it leecock (turn downwing) quite noticeably.

How is yours behaving in winds and waves? I would have preferred ideally to be able to deploy a little more skeg to get it neutral so that I get a little more “tracking” this way for going in a straight line…

Curious if yours does the same? I had moved the seat back about 1.5-2" thus the trim is a little more rearward so may be that is the reason… I might have to move it back where it was and move the foot rails forward instead. I seem to need an extra couple of inches barefoot to fit properly compared to the stock position (I did not realize my feet were just about perpendicular vs. slightly forward when I tested it during my first paddle last week)…


moving the seat
has had a pretty big effect on your Z. This is what you are experiencing, especially given that you’re a big paddler and you moved it 2". I’d live with it and whenever possible just weight the bow with some gear for better balance. Throw your spares, repair kit, whatever you don’t need in the day hatch, up there and it will help.

The amount of rocker is easily influenced by weight shifts in the Z. To have a properly tuned boat, with the seat in the original position, the boat is pretty well balanced, with a slight tendency to WC. Shifting 2" aft will affect this balance. It’s less noticeable in the Tempest, as it’s rocker profile is not as exagerated.


How’s your Carbon Z ?

– Last Updated: Nov-01-10 3:58 PM EST –

Thanks for the feedback! How's the Carbon Z treating you? I can't help but wonder what a lighter version of the Z might feel like - I've grown used to paddling about 40lb boats and having to paddle a close to 55lb one again, I can feel it is not as "lively" in responding to waves or paddler input simply due to the inertia of the heavier hull (and that can be good or a bad thing depending on the situation, of course).

I almost exclusively paddle the Zephyr on whtie water on my local river, so the weathercocking in winds does not really matter in practical terms. Have had it out a few more times since I last posted and otherwise the boat seems fine - I was initially worried that the seat being moved back will alter how the kayak surfs, but have not noticed negative effects so far - surfs just fine and the tail is still easy to spin on turns.

I only had it out on a loan for a short time but on the Z 160 I thought the tail was more planted and the kayak felt more neutral in the wind without skeg than the 150 - the latter seems to be more maneuverable and less "tracky" than the 160...

Only thing is, I can't seem to find a perfect position of the thigh/knee braces. Looks like I would need to pad them somehow since now they have a stress point on my knee caps no matter how I place them. Tried a number of fore-aft and in-out adjustments and I seem to prefer the all the way forward and all the way out (wider gap in the middle) position, but the rear of the pads needs to be a tad lower and there is no adjustment for that... Any suggestions how to best move the contact point away from my knees and more towards the thigh? simply sliding them back is not good since the angle there is totally off where I feel it needs to be and they bagin to poke in my thigh...

Is there a way to insert some foam under the current fabric of the thigh pads? Or perhaps do something else that others have had good luck with? I have not looked too hard at that yet so your feedback may save me some guessing -;)


well now
yes there are a few folks who won’t fit the standard thigh positions, especially since you moved your seat! the options are to take out the braces and replace them with a thick piece of minicell shaped to your thigh needs. This is what alot of folks do to the ‘other’ sea kayaks that come w/o dedicated braces. use the flange to glue the foam to and you’re good to go. I have a;lso seen a thick chunk of foam (1-3" thick) added to the topside of the brace. It requires some gluing and longer screws but this seems to work, as well.

actually just picked the carbon z up on SAT and it’s been ridiculously wet/ stormy here. hope to get her out in the next couple days. mounted up the compass yesterday. yes a lighter boat is NICE! reallyu feels more lively.


Thanks (n/m)

…Seriously, Dude. That boat is too light for a manly man like yourself. Folks are already talking and you don’t want to know what’s being said behind your back. I think that that little black girly boat is going to totally ruin your image.

Do yourself a favor and let me trade you my FG Z. I’ll make it real easy for you and trade you straight across. You are in Portland, right? Heck, I’ll even take tomorrow off and drive down to help you out.

Tell ya what. I’ll leave right now and be at your front door before you brush your teeth and go to bed.

No need to thank me. Helping out my fellow man is all that I’m about.


im actually quite surprised about how light the plastic Z155 is. Some clips or photoes of the carbon Z would be just fine…

ya know
I am getting used to the black, carbon-fiber showing thru, look of the new boat and I guess I’ll have to think about your offer. I really don’t want people thinkin’ I’ve gone ‘girly-man’! =:-0)


Just say the word…
…and I’ll help you get rid of that thing.