If money was no object, I would have bought one of these hands down. But, money is always an object, unfortunately, so I went with another model, the Perception Carolina 12. It's a really nice boat, but much as I like it, it simply can't hold a candle to the Tsunami. Maybe one of these days I will be able to afford one.
I use this kayak as a means of transport to visit friends and cross the Milford Haven Estuary to a waterside pub 2 miles distant (but 15miles by road). There are more challenging destinations such as our nearest town - it's fun shopping by water. For such esturine trips, the 160 is almost perfect with its 15ft WLL and well able to stem with ease our frequent 3Kn tidal flow making use of back-eddies near the shore. The effortless glide and tracking stability are bewitching. The hull sits low in the water, there is very little exposed for gusty winds to grab. A nylon spraydeck is important in our usually choppy waters.
Though the kayak weathercocks a little, turning it fully up-wind in F4 or F5 can be a grunt (above that, I tend to stay at home). This reluctance is ameliorated by some knee brace tilting which the design reliably allows. Generally, I am astonished at how seaworthy the kayak is in ugly looking chop and breakers occurring when wind opposes the tide. The rudder is of great assistance when going downwind; I sometimes use a golf umbrella as a sail in this direction.
In the open sea with waves of greater length the feeling of security is reduced as there is too much buoyancy at each end and insufficient sheer. What is needed here is a British design of kayak. But, Hey, I live on an estuary where waves of this kind are only formed by the wake of heavy power boats passing. These waves can be managed and even thrilling to surf a bit.
I should mention that the little cleat which secures the backrest set height turned from S/S to a white powder after 3 years use. I was obliged to cut it off and fit a home-made alternative since Wilderness are not interested in the supply of spare parts. I fully expect the kayak to last its allotted 15 years before sunlight makes it brittle (with some care). Being linear single skin PE, it can then be recycled. I think the name "Tsunami" is a bit silly for a kayak very adept at an estuary type scenario. I am 150lb and 5ft 9in. Large folk should look elsewhere for a kayak. Not at all bad for a US concept.
Yes the boat is slow to turn and weather cocks a bit, but it is 16 foot and not built like a white water boat. With proper lean and an efficient sweep it corrects quite nicely. Rolling has not been a problem and the boat does nicely with this. The hatches are very secure with almost no water during rough conditions, rolls and rescue practice. The deck rigging is wonderful.
The only complaint is the weight makes it hard when it comes to car topping, but being made of plastic there is not much to do about this. Would absolutely recommend this to anyone looking to move up into a sea kayak range boat.
I purchased this kayak last year. Overall, I am quite happy with it. It maneuvers well and holds a course well with the rudder down. The seating is very comfortable and I find I do not tire as much as I did with my old kayak. Water does come into the cockpit in rough conditions, but this can be handled with a spray skirt or foul weather gear. Although I am short (5'7") I do not find this kayak to be "too big". Overall, I would recommend this kayak for people who like to do this type of kayaking.
One of the best things for me, I have moderate to severe back problems, and the phase three seat (back raises and lowers, thigh pads raise and lower, and back rest tilts back and forward) that wilderness systems has employed allows me to continue in the boat for hours without getting out, just adjusting the seat as necessary. I used to have a Carolina which was no where near as flexible and every two hours or so I had to get out, now I can go for six or seven without any major issues for me.
I have not yet measured speed, but because I am the largest, and most muscular of the group I usually go with, I am restricted in how fast I can paddle. I would not be surprised if I could average over 4 knots because in my Carolina I usually figured on 2.8 - 3.4 knots per trip, and this is much faster.
I would recommend the phase 3 seat by wilderness systems to anyone, and of course in particular this boat. If you are looking for a kayak give the Tsunami a try. The only reason I don't give this boat a 10, is because I do not believe that anything is perfect, and anyone can find flaws in anything. The only flaw I have is that I have a smaller car, so the racks are closer together and I have squeezed the boat on long car trips...I have remedied that situation by placing a shaped block in the cockpit for travel.
The owner of the paddle shop and I had talked about the Tsunami and he suggested I give it a try. I did, and I enjoyed the trial. The Tsunami is 16' long and 23.5" wide. The cockpit opening is a lot smaller than the Pungo's. Yes, I know that at 57" the Pungo's is huge. But thanks to my stiff leg and mobility restrictions, getting into the Tsunami was challenging. Once I got into the boat, I found a lot to like, and some things to dislike. Today on our local lake we had about 15 to 20 mph winds, most of it on the nose. Wind was fluky, and I paddled into the wind more than across or away from it.
The boat moves easily and paddles fast. I've gotten my Pungo up to 4.8 mph, in a sprint, in flat water, paddling flat out. The Tsunami I got up to 5.5 mph in the chop without too much effort. I could have maintained something over 4 most of the time. The speed of the boat allowed it to slide pretty effortlessly through the chop. Chop was running close to a foot, but the boat just powered through. Tracks like its on rails, almost. The boat also has a tendency to weathercock; which is the opposite of my Pungo. The boat was very stable and steady. The narrower cockpit took a little getting used to. No cup holder for my water bottle, and very little room between my thighs to park it. The adjustable thigh pads help for comfort. Not sure how well that would work for a full day, but for the 2 1/2 hours I paddled the boat, it was comfortable.
The boat is difficult to turn. The weathercocking was strong enough that it was a bit easier to turn to weather than to leeward, but it still took a lot of strokes and space to turn the boat. In fact, I had to stroke on one side and backpaddle on the other to effect a couple of tight turns. At the end of the run, I had trouble getting out of the boat. Chop hitting on the side had soaked my rear, as others have commented. The boat could have used both a skirt for dryness and a rudder for turning.
Lot to like about the boat. My difficulty in getting into and out of it convince me that it is not the boat for me, but it has a number of pluses.
Prior to the 160 purchase I had my heart set on the Tempest model of Wilderness Systems. I was disappointed when I saw the seat had only a back band. I have spine problems and this seat arrangement was not conducive to my problem.
When I tried the 160 I was sold largely because of the seat. If you are not comfortable you are not going to want to get in it very often. I doubt if there is another manufacturer that makes a seat as comfortable as this one, especially for my particular problem. I have the rudder, and find it very efficient and easy to use, although you do not need it that often.
The 160 has good initial stability and not to bad secondary, along with a good speed. ( quite a bit faster than the 140 ) It also has the day hatch separate from the rear hatch, and is handy.
My main complaint with this kayak is that the cockpit height decreases from front to back, and will take on water, if hit broadside in a moderate wave. This would hit the user in the hip area. The 140 was the same. The fix to this is of course to skirt up, therefore completely elevating the problem.
Otherwise this is a great kayak, would buy it again, and do recommend it.
The polycarbonate body though strong could be easily damaged if allowed to get two hot. I am particularly careful in synching it to the top of my truck as you could easily dent the hull though it would probably pop out.
What I like: almost everything. It is much lighter than the previous reviewer seems to think. I have no problem loading it onto the top of my xterra. I am 5'7 and 151 lbs so the cockpit is just right for my frame and I can move about in the very comfortable seat and reach items in the floor of the kayak. I got the kayak with the rudder and it tracks beautifully through the water and will turn on a dime if you use the right technique. Very stable and handles three foot swells without difficulty and without feeling as if you will be tossed out. Very fast--I am a beginner and I was able to get an average of 5 mph with two runs going both with and against the current and averaging the two. This was achieved with minimal paddling effort. Long range paddle speed would easily be 3mph. Despite what one reviewer said the rudder can be lowered and raised with ease from the cockpit.
The pros: Tracking is GREAT; When in the water, the rudder works extremely well; TONS of storage room; Extremely stable; Has three well placed hatches.
But it has cons too: Heavy, about 60 pounds but feels like 100 because of its size; The backrest is really high and sticks up above the coaming by a couple of inches at least; Hard to turn and manuever; The rudder is almost impossible to raise and lower from the water. I have to get a friend to help me lower it if I don't do it from the shore; Sits very low in the water.