For the past couple years many of the P&H paddlers have been begging Graham to design a “playboat”. Not just any ordinary 16 foot day tripping machine, but rather a boat specifically designed to surf and play in rock gardens. I got my first glimpse this year at the Outdoor Retailer show and have been patiently awaiting the boat to show up here on the west coast. So when Jamie Klien called me last week on Friday to inform me that two Delphins had arrived in Bellingham, I wasted no time putting the wheels into motion. After bribing Chris Tretwold to make the journey North at 5 am the following morning, we were in route to a place the everyone knows all to well. Skooks. Of course we did not have any shortage of boats to pull from and with a 12.5 knot tide we decided to bring the full flotilla. 2 Delphin’s, Cetus LV, Capella 161, S Molan, and 2 M Molan’s. Graham you have designed us the best fleet of boats in the business…thank you! Trouble is I keep needing a bigger and bigger roof rack because I can’t decide on what to bring.
Despite having an absurd number of boats to mess around with, Chris and I were focused on putting the Delphin through it’s paces. Staring with the glassy green wave all the way up to a pretty sizable foam pile, we wanted to see how this boat compared to other short, playful sea kayaks. Right from the second you climb into this boat, it is clear that you are in something new and revolutionary. The Delphin comes equipped with the same Connect 30 outfitting as the Pyranha boats. Being able to hop in the boat and rachet up the backband, the boat instantly feels like a performance kayak. A nice keyhole cockpit is complemented with grippy thigh braces and a small accessible hatch just like the Cetus range. Once we hit the water, both Chris and I instantly felt the boat was extremely nimble, yet stable. A boat that will scream performance if that is what you are looking for, but also a boat that beginners will hop in and find extremely easy to paddle. Perhaps the most unique feature of this boat is the shape of the bow. Lots of rocker and well defined edges that allow the boat to plane up quickly. For the first time ever, I was surfing a sea kayak on a steep wave and it flet like I could keep the bow our of the water and carve. Viola! Notice how the water sheds off the bow of this boat in the picture below. The edges allow a clean movement of the water off the bow without it being under the water. Very cool.
One of the things I was most curious about with this boat is how it would behave in rough water and also it’s speed over ground. Park and play at Skooks is one thing, but how would this boat perform in bigger ocean water and could you actually get to rock garden locations with any energy left. Chris and I spent a bunch of time just doing downriver laps, where we would purposely drop it into whirlpools, fight up current lines and test hull speed. Plastic boats always feel a little sluggish, but I think this boat is about as nimble and fast as they come. I would have no issue padding this boat in big coastal water for the day. It feels like a sea kayak when you put the hammer down, but it surfs like no other boat on the market. I’m looking forward to the glass Aries and the smaller Delphin. This boat is going to revolutionize sea kayaking. Perfect for beginers to learn the cause and effects of edging and so nimble that the experts will paddle locations on the coast that were once thought to be unaccessible.
There are lots of different things we picked up on about on this boat over a couple days at Skooks. At first I was hoping to see even more aggressive edges that carried the full length of the boat, but then realized how forgiving it is in a side surf or crossing eddy lines. The stern carries the water line pretty long for a 15.5′ boat, making it faster than it might appear on first glance. I had imagined this to be a boat that people like myself will flock too, but did not realize how much potential it would have for new paddlers. I can’t wait to get the boat out rock gardening along the coast in the coming weeks!
All photos by Steve Rogers!