First Glass Boat: Tesla or Solstice?

Looking for some advice…

So I’m ‘graduating’ from my poly Looksha IV so a glass/composite boat.

I’ve narrowed it down to either a Necky Tesla NM or a Current Designs Solstice GT. I like the extra length and width (since I am taller), but especially like the extra volume in both of these boats.

The only real difference I can find is that the Solstice has a small rear hatch. Beyond that…I can’t really see much difference other than maybe the rocker on the Tesla is a bit more pronounced (as is typical for Necky).

Anyone have experience with both boats…or nightmares to guide me to one or the other. Where I am, the difference in price is only a negligible $50.

Any thoughts are much appreciated…

tracking difference
the Tesla tracks OK the GT tracks GREAT.

The Tesla maneuvers GREAT the GT, just OK.

In beam winds you may find the Tesla has a similar feel to the IV. rudder time. While the GT may point straighter, you may need the rudder to get it to TURN!

The outfitting and such are unique to each manufacturer so if you are happy with either, I would seriously consider the hull performance.

We have both these boats in our fleet and I have paddled them extensively.


Any more opinions
Any opinions on initial stability vs. secondary stability? Which one rolls easier? Performance in flat water vs. performance in serious chop?

>>Any opinions on initial stability vs. secondary stability?

very similar. both are bomber. GT may have a touch more secondary.

Which one rolls easier? tesla by a touch. the secondary above makes ‘pushing it back’ upright harder. but very insignificant in the big picture. both roll OK.

Performance in flat water vs. performance in serious chop? see tracking answer. both can handle ‘conditions’. GT’s going to go straigher and harder to turn. more affected by side chop. Tesla’s going to get moved around more by side chop. belts and suspenders.

seriously, these two boats represent a big guys, 1 ton, 4X4, crew cab truck. one’s a Chevy and one’s a Dodge. (or Ford, Toyota, insert favorite brand)


load 'em up
Steve do you think the GT would be twitchier in waves? For me it’s a characteristic that comes from those fine ends knocking the boat about in chop as the support changes abruptly.

I’d pick the GT for the seat but honestly they’d be two boats in a field of at least 10 for ruddered kayaks.

hence my suggestion to my Pop to buy a Tesla. he was happy as a clam in it. The GT is IMHO to good of tracking and affected by side current/ waves a bit much. But I like turny boats. many prefer the tracking.


Tesla vs Solstice
I like the Looksha IV, and in close quarters (in small estuaries and lagoons) the you can get or go anywhere.

The thing I’m not as fond of is the rocker/twitchiness in chop. I’m wondering if the Tesla and the Solstice perform a little differently that way. The Looksha IV is nasty in following seas - even with the rudder it’s a lot like work.

I gather the extra width aids in the initial stability.

How about fit and finish? The Looksha is okay, but I keep hearing about the ‘art’ of the CD boats…


I guess that’s why
they make belts and suspenders. Personally, I like the IV in following seas cuz it IS twitchy and will cut around a bit. The Solstice on the otherhand goes where it’s pointed but is quite difficult getting it to turn off this course. I was doing some testing in the gorge in a IV a few months ago and it was a HOOT!

Fit and finish are in the eyes of the beholder on these two. I’ve seen stellar boats from both companies and seen a few not so stellar. Tho in the recent past both have been top drawer.


Or maybe Northwest
I’ve just been mulling over the big guy/gal ruddered boats in my mind the last couple weeks. Wondering what boat I’d pick if I wanted a ruddered boat. This gives me a chance to praise a hull other than the WS Tempest. These are my thoughts in a nutshell, just from test paddles.

The Solstice GT made an immediate impression on me, but not a particularly favorable one. It has a very high foredeck and pretty stiff tracking. I’d be surprised if it did well in wind.

The Tesla NM was ok. I didn’t paddle it for very long since the cockpit was a little tight due to the relatively low deck, as big guy boats go, and I’d pretty much decided I wanted a skegged boat at that point. The Tesla and Solstice are on opposite ends of the spectrum for deck height I think. If it fit me well, between the two, I’d pick the Tesla.

In a ruddered big guy boat, the hulls that I really like are the ones from Northwest. I’ve paddled the Discover XL and the Pursuit XL. Surprising amount of primary stability for the beam, tracks well, turns well. The Pursuit has a 22.75” beam, and there’s a Cadence that’s a 23.5” beam. Two problems. 1. There may not be a distributor near you if you’re back East. 2. The boat would need some outfitting changes IMO. There’s no thigh braces, so you’d need to put those in. Up side is you could put in nice thigh hooks. I’d probably take the mushy slider foot pegs out and put in some Seal Line style foot pegs and rudder system. NW or your kayak shop might do that for you upon request. I think the Tesla and Solstice have slider foot pegs also, so same issue with those. Lastly, NW boats have Styrofoam bulkheads, certainly higher risk of cracking than glass bulkheads, but wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. To me there’s only three REALLY important parts to a kayak. The hull, the deck, and the hull. The rest is outfitting. I wonder what it would take to put in glass bulkheads if the Styrofoam ones started leaking, or patch or re-do the Styrofoam, or kick them out and go bulkheadless. See the tail end of the thread “Sea boat – best hatch configuration,” for a discussion about bulkheadless. Last-lastly, the NW boats have a hard plastic seat back. If you happen not to like that, you’d need to put in a back band.

Come to think of it, if you don’t mind switching over to a skegged boat, then the Tempest 180 would be G2G right off the shelf. To me it sort of feels like a well outfitted Northwest boat with a skeg. (LOL. I could take some grief on this comment, maybe on more than one level. I’m just having fun.)

If I had decided I wanted a ruddered boat, I’m 80% certain I’d go for an NW boat, and either re-outfit it myself or pay a shop to do it. Only reason I’m not 100% sure is I only spent a few 20 minute sessions with the NW boats. I’d need to spend days with a boat before plopping down money on a new boat. I could see taking more of a chance on a used boat.

I’m just sharing idea here. My 2 cents.

Paul S.

Correction, Solstice GT XL
The boat I paddled was the Solstice GT XL actually. The GT doesn’t have as high a foredeck, so my comments there are null and void. Sorry about that.

Paul S.

I don’t think the problem for me with the GT is just tracking or lack of maneuverablity, slapping a big old rudder eliminates a lot of hull design for tracking and could open up other attributes for better wave handling. I don’t think long fine ends make sense for the balance between what the hull has to do to float a certain amount of weight on the water and move that weight across water that has waves. I hadn’t paddled an Arluk III in a few years and took one out last summer, with waves off the stern “damn, why would a person design a kayak to do that, it’s like a cork screw”

Are you sure it’s not minicell. Styrafoam is white, stiff and brittle. Definitely would crack with any pressure, torquing, etc. Minicell is generally gray, sometimes black, pretty dense but flexible. The problem with them as bulkhead is that the glue/sealant eventually wears and they have to get cleaned up (sand usually gets in and embedded on the edges) and reattached and sealed.


No, not sure at all
I thought I got it off of reviews in the review section here actually. Thought I read something about problems with the bulkheads drying out and cracking. I just re-read them quick, and didn’t see anything about minicell or styrofoam. Wouldn’t want to spread false rumors.


Ok found it
Review on the Synergy RM. “One bad point: foam bulkheads that dry and split in hot weather- a definite safety issue. At present all my bulkheads leak.” I translated “foam” to styro, with no good reason. Also, this review is on RM. After looking at composite NW boats at a shop nearby, and talking to the sales guy, I went away thinking that they had foam bulkheads. Not sure now though. Can anyone here confirm one way or the other?

Paul S.