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Submitted: 09-23-2010 by CMPR500
I ordered a Wilderness Systems Zephyr early this summer as a second boat to compliment my Tempest 170. I love the Tempest, the outfitting is about the best I have ever paddled, but wanted something a bit more playful and spirited.
The Zephyr has a reputation for being a scaled down Tempest, while they do share quite a few features, they are not the same boat. The Tempest is a fish form with decent initial stability and excellent secondary stability. It tracks like it is on rails and reaches cruising speed easily and efficiently. It does have some rocker, lending to it's ability to handle just about any sea condition, and decent maneuverability. The Zephyr on the other hand is a swede form design that sits much lower in the water, has significantly more rocker and much greater maneuverability with minimal loss in tracking. In fact, I have noticed less weathercocking and wind effect in the Zephyr likely due to the much lower profile.
She is a very spirited day touring boat, lean turns and edging seem almost automatic, and there is almost no tipping point to speak of. It is one of the smoothest easiest rolling boats I've paddled, and handles big conditions with confidence. I live on Lake Ontario and often venture out into large surf and strong winds to "play" and the Zephyr has become my go to boat.
There is a significant loss in cargo capacity compared to the Tempest, but I have managed week long trips without issue as long as you pack smart and a willing to forgo the kitchen sink. When packed properly, I found a bit stern heavy helps in heavy cross winds, I rarely need the skeg, but it does engage easily and only to the needed degree.
The few knocks against the boat are, Wilderness Hatches leak, not a ton, not enough to keep me from buying another WS, but they are not VCP hatches. A cup of water per hatch is the norm after heavy seas or rolling. The Skeg does make a bit of noise from time to time and I know I'm nitpicking here, but I like the reflective deck lines and metal hardware on the tempest over the non reflective lines and plastic of the zephyr.
Overall, it's a great boat. If you are looking for a spirited day touring boat or play boat, put it on your short list to paddle.
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