Zephyr 16.0 VS 15.5

I have about a week in the Z-16.0. It’s split between the glass and poly. I have zero time in the 15.5 and I’m very interested in how it compares to the 16.0.

My touring boat is a Tempest 170 and play is a Tern 14. I clip in at 195. The Z-16.0 isn’t quite enough change from my Tempest to niche into my modest quiver. The Tern can fulfill other familial applications if the 15.5 rings my bell.

I would really like to hear from folks who have time in both the 15.5 and the 16.0 as to what their impressions of the two boats are.


My time
Jon in the other thread I got into specifics. Frankly, they act like two completely different designs. The 15.5 is great, but the 16 isn’t. This opinion is shared by the three other people I work with who paddle these boats on a daily basis. We wish we would have bought two 15.5s instead of a 16 and a 15.5.

You should definately try the 15.5 before you buy. It’s better behaved, surfs better, and fits better. It’s a pretty good boat. I’d love to own one in carbon as my personal day tripping kayak.

Btw, I’m 5’10" and 190 pounds.

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According to the web site, the 15.5 in poly weighs approx. 52 lbs. So does the fiberglass version. Hmmmm, interesting.

You have way more time in that boat than anyone else I have talked to. I am really interested in hearing more specifics if you have the time. About all I have heard is that it isn’t a smaller Z for smaller people. Just a smaller Z. You and I are about the same size so your observations and impressions are important to me.



– Last Updated: Aug-29-08 10:21 PM EST –

The 15.5 is roomer than my standard Romany with the fiberglass seat removed. I use a Valley foam seat in my Romany and the 15.5 is still more roomy. Plus it's the most comfortable boat I've been in. Personally, I think the 16 is really designed for 230 pound people, and the 15.5 for 190 pounds.

I really like the 15.5; I also loved the Dagger Meridian, which it's based on. And the Romany, which the Meridian was based on.

I've been in surf up to 4 foot in the Z, and it does pretty well. It broaches more than my Romany, but it catches a wave easily. It surfs wind waves easily. It's easy for me to spin around while in the foam. It does pearl a bit.

Along the coast and into rock gardens, it's a joy to paddle. It feels very solid and breaking waves seem to just be sluffed off. It one of those boats that I think won't let you down and is only limited by your skills.

It's a very easy boat to roll, balance brace. I do have problems with hand rolls in it, which isn't an issue in my Romany.

It turns unlike any other boat, except maybe the Pintail, than any boat I've used. A couple of sweeps and you'll be 360. Makes me look good when I'm demonstrating sweeps.

I think that you could cut out the WS hatches and put in KS hatches. You'll want to measure before you do that. The foam bulkheads are junk. For the life of me, I can't figure out why WS doesn't weld their bulkheads. The plastic Avocet that I paddled the last two year, never never had water in the hatches. The Z always does, even after one roll.

The downside is that it just doesn't track as well as the Romany. On a long trip, I'd probably end up using the skeg more often than I usually do (never), but then again it's pretty weather neutral. It does crab a bit. It's okay fast, but my Romany feels more efficient.

So, for me it comes down to two boats, either a Z 15.5 or a Romany. If I owned an Explorer or other expedition boat, I'd rather have a Z 15.5 (in the new carbon layup - 35 pounds I think), simply because it makes me look very good as an instructor, plus its fun to paddle, but since I don't have an Explorer, I think the Romany is my personal choice. It's just a better boat for play plus touring.

You need to try the 15.5 before you buy though, because if you're like me and the other folks up this way, you'll find it a much better boat than the 16. Seriously, I love the 15.5, but can't stand being in the 16.

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boats are size specific
i probably couldn’t even get in the 15.5 let alone paddle it without pain. choose a boat based on a fit match, not someone else’s.