P&H Delphin II 155 CLX sea/surf kayak


Length 475cm (15'7") Beam 57cm (22.5") Weight 25.5kg (Corelite X construction)
Volume 267 litres (58.3 galls) Max Paddler Weight 125kg Deck Size Large/Bigdeck


Avg continuous comfortable cruise ?mph - sprint ?mph
P&H Delphin II 155 CLX
 WATCH THIS SPACE - FULL REVIEW COMING IN 2024 (Due to a rash impulse purchase!)
The unique Delphin design is a big departure from the traditional British sea kayak shape and was like nothing seen before when it first hit the market.  A fusion of sea kayak and white water kayak design thinking it is designed to excel in playing, rock gardening and especially surfing with excellent manoeuvrability and with a bow section designed to promote early planing and reduce purling (nose diving). Originally I thought it was something of an ugly design but have to say it has grown on me especially as I now more appreciate the functionality of the shape. The squared of bow and stern should maximise waterline length, and hence speed, for a shorter kayak and the low back deck looks like it was made for rolling.  The slightly more rearwards than normal cockpit is designed to allow the bow to just kiss the surface which, together with the bow shape should help promote planing and help you turm more quickly.
As I spend most of my time in my sea kayaks now I decided two distinctly different kayaks made most sense to give me most flexibility and justify owning two sea kayaks with less of an overlap in functions!  The intention therefore is for my Delphin to become my primary play/rock gardening/surf boat but with potential to also be my novice guest boat.  I am then thinking of possibly replacing my Seabird Scott with a NDK Explorer as my main touring/expedition type boat.  The more heavily rockered Scott is probably ultimately a little more manoeuvrable than the Explorer so can double as a moderate play boat but the Explorer is a little faster.  I look forward to finding out for myself whether the hype surrounding the design and performance of the Delphin transfers into practice or whether I have made an expensive mistake! Unfortunately the purchase of the Delphin requires, for both storage space and economic reasons, the sale of my Dagger Katana much to the chagrin of my son who normally chooses to paddle it. I am hoping the surfing ability of the Delphin will win him over.
This Delphin MK II version updates the original design with additional hatches to increase touring potential a re-positioned skeg slider and also has built in fittings at the bow to allow a sail to be mounted without having to drill or modify the hull (I really want to try a sail as well!).  The Delphin reviewed here is of the Corelight X construction (Triple layer plastic) which should make it lighter and stiffer than single skin plastic kayaks to improve performance although possibly slightly less resilient.
Some first interim thoughts on the Delphin after a few paddles:
I have by no means given the Delphin a thorough work out yet but here are a few first impressions of the 155 CLX MKII at a paddler weight of around 80-85kg. 
1.  This is, by a long way, the most manoeuvrable sea kayak I have ever paddled! On one of my first trips out in it I nearly rammed the river bank when approaching a very tight turn in the river as I started to initiate the turn where I would have in my NDK Romany as I approached the corner only to find the Delphin had turned 90degrees almost instantaneously and I was aiming at the river bank before I even reached the corner itself!  I have seen some reviews where people have stated sea kayak x etc turns better than the Delphin and honestly I find this very hard to believe.  Maybe they were in the lower volume Delphin 150 so sink the boat more and therefore lose some of the turning ability of the higher volume Delphin 155 but I find it hard to believe you can get a much faster turning sea kayak than this. This was one of the main reasons I got the Delphin in the first place as I wanted something that would be fast and easy to turn.  If anything it has exceeded my expectations in that respect!
2. I was expecting it to be slow but cruising in company with an NDK Romany "Classic" and NDK Explorer (Standard size) it doesn't seem at any great disadvantage.  When sprinting I managed to match the top speed of the 17'6" NDK Explorer and beat the Romany.  Unlike the Romany which seems to hit a hard wall at a certain maximum speed you don't tend to get the same feeling in the Delphin.  The planing concave bow actually seems to lift up and try to plane rather than just building up a bigger bow wave.
3. As soon as you get any side or cross wind you start to need some skeg and the Delphin is a lot more skeg dependent than my other sea kayaks (My Romany doesn't even have a skeg!). However this is part of the design and the price you pay for all of that manoeuvrability.  Once you accept this and just use the skeg as and when needed it is not really a problem.  After my first trip in the Delphin in basically calm water on a pretty windless day I started to wonder if I actually needed my other sea kayaks as the Delphin seemed so versatile and was faster than I expected when cruising.  On a subsequent trip in a much stronger wind it soon became clear that my NDK Explorer did indeed have an advantage in these conditions and it was harder to keep the Delphin on track even with the skeg down so I had to work a little harder. This was with the Delphin unloaded though and floating high with the bow barely kissing the water, if I had had cargo on board for a longer distance expedition sinking the bow and stern a little more the Delphin may have tracked better.  It wasn't unmanageable though (and my skeg needs attention as it was supplied with it adjusted so it can currently only deploy to a maximum of about 35degrees, only about half the skeg slider travel).  Likewise I could perhaps have chosen the lower volume Delphin 150 which no doubt would track better but personally I would rather have the higher volume 155 and keep the full addictive manoeuvrability especially as I have the luxury of more than one sea kayak and the Delphin is primarily intended as my play/surf kayak. Never the less if I could only have one all purpose kayak I don't think I would be disappointed with the Delphin although if play/surf is a lower priority for you then it might be worth looking at the P&H Virgo (preferably in the stiffer CLX construction) as a good all rounder which is pretty good at everything while being more of a "proper" sea kayak which will enable you to develop your skills than many other recreational style kayaks (I think I would now choose the Virgo over a Dagger Stratos for instance as a do everything kayak). I have paddled the P&H Virgo MV as well and I was favourably impressed with both the speed for a shorter kayak and the responsiveness and ease of turning (but it won't out turn or out surf a Delphin but may track a little better than the Delphin in adverse conditions.).
4.  I have recently fitted the P&H Force 4 sail on the Delphin (My Delphin MKII has deck fittings to mount the sail/mast kit onto as standard).   Early days yet but it promises to be fun and is quick and easy to deploy and furl.
More testing and thoughts to come.

 See below some videos introducing the Delphin and showing what it can do (If you have the skill!)