by Bryant Burkhardt
So we recently got in a shipment of the new, smaller P&H Delphin 150. For those not familiar with it the Delphin is P&H’s plastic ‘play’ sea kayak. It’s got a ton of bow rocker, a fairly flat bottom and a rather hard chine (for a plastic boat). The regular size (the 155) has been around for a little over a year now and has been an incredibly popular rock garden and surf boat. I’ve gotten to paddle it a fair bit and love the way it performs – here’s my review of it on the river and here’s Sean’s review in the surf. I was excited to get the chance to try out the smaller version see how it compared
First, here are some specs: The Delphin 155 is 15’6″ with a 22.5″ beam. The 150 is 15’0″ and a 21.5″ beam. I’m 6’0″, 165lbs, 32″ inseam and size 11 feet. The Delphin 150 is spec’d for paddlers up to 230 lbs. and all sea kayaks can handle a lot of weight. But that doesn’t really tell you how it’s going to perform or how well you will fit into it.
I tested the 150 out head to head with the 155 on a stretch of the Marin coastline – paddling the 155 on the way out and switching into the 150 on the way back. We were playing in the rocks but the swells were fairly small and we weren’t feeling aggressive. My first impression upon climbing into the 150 (we did a boat swap on the water, a credit to the stability of both boats that we didn’t get so much as our feet wet in the process) was that the cockpit is a little tight. My large shoes (Keen Gorge Boots) were wedged in and squished by the deck. The knee position in both boats is rather straight but in the 155 I don’t mind since I get a good bend in my knee lifting them up to the high deck. In the 150 my legs were much more flat and less comfortable. So at my size the fit in the 150 is OK for a short play session but too small for all day touring.
But on to the performance: as expected, the 150 was definitely a livelier boat. I sat noticeably lower in the water and while it still had good stability the edges were engaged much more quickly. Sitting still in chop trying to take pictures wasn’t as easy as it is in the 155. But those edges responded really well when amongst the rocks – the 150 spins quicker, edges faster and is even easier to accelerate.
Once you’re in the cockpit you also notice how much narrower the bow is on the 150. Not an issue in the rock gardens but I would expect that it would be less resistant to perling (the 155 is the anti-perl champ). Unfortunately with the small swells and dumpy beach I didn’t actually get the chance to try the 150 on any real waves.
Another CCK instructor, Lisa, was the one who swapped boats with me during the day. So she had a chance to try both versions of the Delphin herself and ended up preferring the 150. With shorter legs she didn’t have the issue’s with cockpit size that I had and she was looking for a responsive boat and the 150 fits the bill. So if you’re looking for a playboat sea kayak then the Delphin should be on the top of your list. And if you can fit comfortably in the little one then it will give you the most performance. But if you have a little more size to you then you may want to stick with the original – it’s still a rock garden wonder and a surfing machine.
Here’s a little video from the day. Both boats are the same color so you can’t really tell the difference from the helmet cam footage but the split paddle on the front deck is the 155; the pump on the front deck is the 150.