The very first day we tested the new P&H Delphin kayak in surf there was a ripping fall gale—ideal conditions for a boat aimed at maximizing sea kayaking’s rough water fun factor.

P&H Delphin Specs (150 / 155)
Length: 15’5” / 15’5”
Width: 21.5” / 22.5”
Weight: 55 / 58 lbs
Max Capacity: 230 / 275 lbs
MSRP: $1,799 USD

Surf’s up with the P&H Delphin kayak

The Delphin was designed by Graham Mackereth, owner of P&H and its whitewater arm, Pyranha, and Richard Taylor, contributing designer of Pyranha’s Molan and Varun whitewater kayaks, with wish lists from surf-loving pro sea kayakers. So it’s no surprise that it blends the performance fit and playful lines of a whitewater boat with sea kayak storage and speed.

A confidence-inspiring boat

Paddling out in the P&H Delphin is an immediate confidence boost. The rigid, triple-layer RM Corelite hull exudes compact strength and invincibility. The novice-friendly primary stability and easy, predictable edging encourage powerful strokes by erasing fear and hesitance.

Pivoting around to line up a surf is nearly instantaneous thanks to the Delphin’s short length, soft-chine midsection and flat bottom. Meeting the wind in profile, it’s equally happy to paddle, turn or just float in perfect neutrality. In a chaos of wind and waves, the Delphin cancels out opposing forces, seeming to bob in her own microclimate of calm—no need to drop the skeg.

Heading inshore, the Delphin accelerates quickly and catches waves with ease. P&H’s play gurus explain this as the effect of the hard chines at the bow, which “direct water onto the planing surface.” The Swede form and longer relative waterline achieved by the truncated, squared-off stern are two other factors that squeeze every shred of speed out of the Delphin’s 15 feet, five inches.

Two men surf ocean waves in P&H Delphin kayaks
Feature Photo: Steve Rogers

Staring down the face of a wave, we felt none of the usual fear of pitch poling into the trough. Chalk this up to the extra rocker, moved-back cockpit and generously proportioned cutter bow that P&H designed to float high and resist pearling on steep, fast waves. In their words, the bow “just kisses the water,” while the stern digs in for control and tracking. With all this design in your court, the Delphin virtually does the surfing for you.

The P&H Delphin is shaped to surf

The flat-bottomed planing hull is forgiving and incredibly maneuverable. Partial hard chines at the bow and stern soften in the midsection for beautifully smooth edging and a rock-solid secondary sweet spot.

Padded walls, aggressive thigh braces, contoured hip pads and a ratcheted backband borrow from whitewater outfitting and yield excellent plug-and-play fit and boat control. The skeg slider is well clear of the knees and the deck pod keeps a clutter-free foredeck.

The bow is the window to the Delphin’s soul: upturned for maneuverability, full volume to reduce diving and aid resurfacing, with hard chines to channel water onto the hull for quick acceleration on a wave.

Half the fun is getting there with the P&H Delphin

Suitable for a wide range of paddler sizes and abilities—a lower volume version is also available for small to medium paddlers—the Delphin lives to surf, ride current and dance in wind. As you’d expect of an aggressively rockered, planing hull, you won’t win any races against more destination-minded designs, but P&H is betting you’ll be having too much fun to care.

This article was first published in the Spring 2011 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Video demo of the P&H Delphin Kayak:


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