Fragility of QCC kayaks

I bought a 400XL in kevlar this spring. When i received the boat and got it home i thought man this is one beautiful well made boat. The only thing that kind of bothered me was the fact that it seemed thin skined compared to any of my plastic boats. ( My first composite boat) It’s kind of like leaning or not leaning against the doors or fenders of the newer cars. Be carefull not to lean too hard as you will cave in the panels. I can push in on the hull and feel the flex. I assumed it was the tradeoff for the reduction in weight. Well this boat has probably been paddled approx. a couple of dozen times since it’s one of three boats. After cleaning boat from this sunday’s paddle i noticed approx. a 1 1/2" crack in the port bow jellcoat. I’m extremly carefull in handling and transport so i cannot think of anything i did to cause the crack. Is this a common problem for QCC or any composite boat? If composites are that fragile i’m inclined to stick to plastic. What is the general opinion?

I have a ,

– Last Updated: Nov-23-04 7:02 PM EST –

carbon/kevlar QCC700 with about 1500 miles on it,, no problems other than the number scratches due to use which I have sanded down a couple times. The boat has not been pampered,, it has been raced about 14 times in the last year, many of the races in rivers with submerged logs and other debris. Maybe you received this damage during shipping and didn't notice it then.

(You may have opened a can of worms here,,lol)

Oh boy

Yeah, I’m hiding behind my monitor

Find mine pretty tough
Not rough with it, but it has many miles, many launches and landings (most likely damage time), some less than gentle rescue practice sessions including various cowboy rescues by an over 200 lb paddler, and several hundred miles of car topping at 60-85 mph, etc.

Hardly fragile.

Everyone’s idea of gentle is different too. Coming from plastic, and thinking that thickness matters, I can’t help but wonder…

You should post pictures on a thread like this. Cracks vary in severity - and seeing the location might let someone give you more specific info. By where it is, we might even be able to guess how it happened. Cranking down strap too hard on a roof rack is a common cause.

Last thought - did you go over it that thoroughly when you first got it?

Call Phil! My bet is that he will arrange for return and either repair or outright replacement.


of dings and dents…
and chips and cracks…

By all means challenge Steve and Phil to address the manner to your satisfaction. They are after all making their CS a selling point. Judging by your description of the discovery, however, it would appear that the damage is probly minimal, and it’s likely that you could do the repair yourself.

I’ve got a pretty good chip in the aft hatch cover for my 700. More than likely I dropped it or banged it against something when I wasn’t paying attention. A little gelcoat and sanding will certainly rectify the problem so I have no intention of spending my time (or Steve’s) corresponding about the matter. I have contacted them on other occassions for other issues, and have found them quite pleasent to deal with, and willing to go the extra mile.

keep the board posted though!

Engineer by trade!
Being an engineer i’m extremly particular about tolerances and quality control. Believe me this crack was not there when i received the boat this spring. It is in the general area of the front tie down. My biggest concern as i stated are all composite boats this fragile? Am i doomed to babying this boat to not ruin it?

it’s a fact of life,gel coats do not flex very well,if they do they tend to be too soft and wear easily, most of the time you’ll see cracks,scrapes and chips without ANY structurual consequences in the material the hull is made out of. The problem with super smooth gel coat is that when a crack happens you can’t help but think “SOMETHINGS BROKEN!” But it’s not. The glass laminate can flex more than the gel coat. A friend dropped her P&H Sirius on the curb and a 3/8" thick chunk of gel coat popped off. Sure looked interesting.

Gel coat is used because it covers the glass, can be tinted and protects the resin matrix from UV light. It serves no structural purpose except an ablative surface. If you actually use a kayak and have to perform rescues you’ll get cracks. Most of the damage folks get with composite kayaks is off the water.

Now it really sounds like you…

– Last Updated: Nov-23-04 9:56 PM EST –

...cranked the straps down too hard (either that or someone sat on it there). Location is telling. Common problem, but shouldn't be. They don't need to be very tight.

What sort of carry system are you using?

That said, I can crank mine pretty hard with my Kevlar 700 sometimes (much more than I would with my glass surf ski) and get no hull/deck flex. I have extremely soft saddles on my rack. They have a lot of give and transmit very little shock to the boats. Work like rubber hands and can flex and pivot. My rear tie strap lines up with the paddle park (only 700 has it). The front is just ahead of the cockpit coaming. Both are rather strong areas. Gives me a lot of leeway.

Engineer huh? That would explain your focus on material deficiencies vs. the simpler user/use issues!

PS - Don't call Phil unles you need some assistance doing the repair (if it's even worth bothering to fix). He didn't put the crack there.

Your comments about flexing increase my
curiosity about the exact nature of the QCC layup. My composite boats are, with one exception, fairly stiff to the touch. The reason for the stiffness is either a lot of layers (my old Phoenix Fiberlastic C-1) or the use of S-glass for the outer layer in the layup. The one kayak I have which is a bit soft to the touch is a 1982 Noah made with no glass, only Kevlar and polyester. It is an extremely tough boat. I have only owned two composite boats with gelcoat, which I consider an unnecessary ablation layer. Both gelcoated boats had stiff E-glass layups, and so there was no risk of cracking the gelcoat by strap compression, but one of the boats did develop fine gelcoat cracks from hitting rocks. A surface crack in the gelcoat does not necessarily indicate significant damage to the underlying laminate. And, before somebody asks, water traveling in through a gelcoat crack will not damage the underlying resin or fibers as long as the resin is vinylester or epoxy. Some older polyester resins (like my '73 Mad River) would interact with micro amounts of trapped water, resulting in hydrolysis and blistering.

The old Phoenix Fiberlastic composite boats were every bit the equal of poly boats in their ability to take abuse. And they did not degenerate with age, unlike poly. However, they were almost as heavy as poly boats, and they didn’t look as “pretty” in the showroom, so Phoenix eventually stopped offering the layup.

Not unusually fragile
While not as stiff as my explorer. I find the qcc stiffness comparable to P&H (especially the diolene deck) Slighly stiffer than impex a less tiff than valleym comparable to mostlike WS etc.

Boats get banged against things, especiall the boats of newbies. I think the Qcc’s lay up to be ready for anything short of rock bashing, fine for general sea kayaking use in conditions with the occasional rough landing.

I owned an 500, but I sold it some I have experience but I am not in the cult.


– Last Updated: Nov-24-04 7:22 AM EST –

I have TWO 700s, One is Noticeably stiffer then the other, The older 700 with the more Forward cockpit is much more stiffer then the new one, with the aft cockpit. Both are Kevlar/Glass. However both are holding up equally well, I’ve even managed to bash the New one against some rocks this year at Joccassee. No cracks, but plenty of Scratches.. I would think a 400 being smaller would be even stiffer. Call Phil up. i think the Old hatch style might be stiffer then the new one..

Front Tie Down Area
throws up a warning flag here, also. A friend cracked his Impex Currituck by cranking down too hard on the straps. That said, I have a carbon/kevlar 700 that I crank down snugly on, have performed numerous cowboy rescue practices on, and even dropped twice during races, with nary a crack. I do use Thule rubber saddles, and usually bow and stern line. I wouldn’t go head to head with my old Explorer in terms of bulletproof layup, but the QCC layup seems plenty strong to me, at least on my boat. (Knock on fiberglass.)

You want to really feel bad…
Last year I got my 700 the day bfore the B & B down in Key Largo.

Both days prior to each race, it was on the beach lined up with all the other yaks while everyone roamed around and socialized.

The second day, just as I was about to load it up on the truck rook when we were leaving, I noticed on the front deck a real bad, (a couple of inches) gouge in the gel-coat.

I can only guess that the rudder of someone elses yak got dragged across it as they were moving it.

Since it was not QCC’s fault, I had absolutely no recourse, and it is still there.

The other day while I was loading my wife’s 600 on the truck, in 32 degree cold, I heard what sounded like a crack, and I am hoping that it was just the ball of the rudder rope slapping against the side of the hull.

My Jensen ultralight canoe does not have any gelcoat, and is very flexible, but after seven years with it, I have not had any problems.



Just a matter of
construction fact as I have heard it, most, (don’t know qcc specifics), companies in their carbon/kevlar constructions use less material in a c/k layup to save weight. Kevlar is heavier than glass, but has better impact resistance than s-glass. So what you may be witnessing is the drawback of any kevlar hull it will take an impact without puncturing, tearing, or fracturing but it will allow the protective, G-E-L coat to crack away. Glass obviously does this too, but for some reason kevlar boats from my limited experience seem to do this more often. My experience in the kayak shop in kzoo let me witness this and my own P&H Kevlar kayak. It is however not a defect per se, it is really just impact damage.

Another issue though is that you can over tighten tie-down straps amidships and crack gelcoat too. And this is not a defect either.

Your damage may be something else. If you want more info from the peanut gallery, you will have to post pictures.

Otherwise buy some gelcoat from QCC to match color as best you can, and get to work.

Didn’t think you would hear
any complaints about these kayaks. Mine has had no structural problems and I tie it down tightly.

port-bow, front tie-down
to my mind that could cover a 6’ range of location. One 1 1/2" crack is pretty small. I did a paddle float rescue with my 1yr old mariner Express and the aft deck made a LOUD CRACK sound in 4’ waves resulting in a 1’ crack at the top edge of the aft deck because the interior seam tape was 3/8" off ending at the bend of the deck and not up under the deck. I repaired that and it hasn’t had a problem since. It’s 12yrs old and has cracks everywhere now, foredeck crack from T-rescue with double that is structural and i haven’t repaired it yet, all over the hull from everything.

The gel coat is missing from the stern and exposed glass shows over a 12" area.

my 400x…
is plenty tough enough. i dont quite baby my boat either. eh NT? :slight_smile:

QCC 400 torture test
I can attest to the strength of the QCC 400 k/c layup. After a day of paddling, I managed to lose control of my 2 month old 400 while unloading it from the top of my minivan. It fell about 6’ and slammed onto the asphalt, with the midship hull hitting first. After getting over the self recriminations, I inspected and found some cracking of the gell coat, but there was no cracking of the kevlar/carbon. $125 worth of repairs at a local boat place and it is fine.