Kayak Design: American Vs. British

Wouild someone please expound upon the handling characteristics distinguishing the two kayak designs

of American (as in the QCC boat Q700) and British (as in NDK Explorer HV)

I am trying to decide between the two and would appreciate some more expert observation than mine.


Many threads… much discussion
Here are a few of the many many threads which touch on your inquiry:






Why not try each one ?
There must be some paddlers not too far from you that have them and would let you demo them.

I know of one in silver Springs that has a QCC.

Hopefuly he will see your post and e-mail you.



a funny way to decide
going by a comparison of generalizations does nothing to guide you to a specific model matching your specific needs/expectations.

There are US/Canadian/Mexican/Chinese/Swedish made kayaks that would fit the description of British boats.

Your question is a little like asking whether you should get an American or Japanese car.

Basic from Atlantic Kayak Tours…
Most British and “Greenland style” kayaks are designed for windy, exposed conditions so their decks are low to the water. The rear deck of VCP’s Anas Acuta is barely two inches above the waterline. It can’t carry a lot of gear, but the low profile makes it a joy to paddle on a windy day when others are struggling. Another striking feature of these boats is how the bow and stern rise up to peaks, even though most of the deck is low. The peaked bow and stern help keep the ends from “submarining” under steep waves and add buoyancy that makes the boat easier to Eskimo roll up in case of a capsize.

These boats were designed to handle rough conditions along exposed coastlines.

A different style of kayak evolved in the Pacific Northwest, where there are hundreds upon hundreds of miles of relatively protected waterways. They tend to have high straight decks with lots of room below and long straight keels. These boats are ideal for carrying lots of stuff on long Point A to Point B trips. The trade-off you knew was coming is that with so much boat above the water these kayaks can be hard to handle in windy conditions. Which is why so many of them have rudders.

Try both
Similar function, but a distinctly different approach to solving the problem between the two. How it feels will be much more useful than the many and varous opinions you’ll get in this venue.

Tell us how and where you like to paddle
Conditions, speeds, distances, or play spots, etc. etc.

Then MAYBE someone can give you input that means anything - sort of.

Both are fine kayaks, but different. Some overlap - but it’s the smaller differences outside that where the personalities emerge.

I’ve paddle both and would not trade my 700 for an Explorer - unless maybe I lived in the UK or area with similar waters, more BCU influence, etc.

I thought you got yours
for going up on all those ice flows you have around you.




– Last Updated: Jun-12-07 7:21 AM EST –

The pointy bow slides right up on the ice when chasing seals... try that in your 700 :-)

I can chase them backwards too!

Like your Brit neighbors asked me "Why would you want that boat in Florida?"... I'm still trying to think of an answer...

We don’t need to slide up on them
We are going so fast that we just slice right through them !



To add to what others have said
The 700 will be faster and glide much better in normal cruising. It will also need that rudder in quartering winds/seas, and may even need the rudder to turn when loaded with camping gear.

The Explorer will be sluggish to accelerate in comparison, and not as fast in calmer water. It will handle better loaded than the 700, and will forgive a lot more mistakes than the 700 will. It will also likely be faster, and easier to turn in rough water.

It’s really an apples and oranges comparison — they’re designed to perform their best in much different conditions.


Faster in rough water?
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . .

Doubt it as well…

I’d have to see it to believe it.

that’s the usual story
but if it’s windy it’s windy whether it’s the Puget Sound or open ocean.

Me thinks that two decades ago Necky/Current Designs was simply meeting a consumer desire to buy a kayak with minimal skills which is satisfied by straight tracking/ruddered designs with lots of room. The long hollow overhangs that characterized the Arluks and Solstices have no positive handling attribute in short choppy wind waves as you’d find in inland waters.

For some reason that style was labeled “NW” but it could just as well be labled “consumer product design”

meaning can be slippery sometimes
maybe “faster” is being mislabled to mean easier to handle, I’m pretty sure if the 700 is faster on flat water it’s faster in rough water. The question is whether the person has the skill to paddle comfortably at that speed in rough water. The Explorer will be more comfortable at moderate speeds and not worth pushing to high speeds for the effort.

It won’t be faster, just more

At the Southwest Kayak Symposium, I took a class called Mayhem with Maynard.

One of the exercises paired two kayaks together and one was designated the leader. His job was to lose the other boat by more than two boat lengths. Halfway through the exercise, we switched roles.

My partner was in a QCC 700 using a big shovel for a paddle, and I was in a Nigel Foster Shadow and using a GP. While the QCC led, he would just go all out in a straight line and would quickly leave me behind.

When I led, I did a series of 90 degree “S” turns and left him immediately behind.

Different boats for different uses.

“moderate” does not = "faster"
Nice try though.

FYI - 700 is great in the slop. Not a playboat, but no one’s really talking that. Explorer is definitely a better babysitter, but it’s slight extra ability to dampen out some of the wave action (vs. tap into it) comes at the price of being at the mercy of that same wave action longer as you wallow through it.

Again, both great hulls.

For Wayne: Rudder? What rudder? L Yes, In lighter winds I take advantage of my 700’s skeg sometimes (I believe many Explorer owners do this as well). If things pick up I’m just as likely to raise the skeg again as waves over 2’ begin to offer shelter against weatherhelm - and I tend to want the added maneuverability back - exception being downwind/downwave runs - and some quartering conditions.

All of this stuff is why I asked the original poster to give some more info about interned use and user.

How about “slows down less”? Speed in a kayak is a subjective thing. To me, the Explorer feels faster in rough water than a lot of boats. On flat water, it’s sluggish.

As an example, my Caribou has the same dimensions as an Explorer. It accelerates faster, and has a higher cruising speed (Measured on a GPS when I’m paddling). They are both really good rough water boats, but the Explorer feels faster in rough water, because it has less of a tendency to pound in the troughs of waves, and slow itself down. The Caribou pounds waves fairly hard, because it has less buoyancy in the bow.

I have to work harder in the Caribou to maintain speed. That’s how I define “faster in rough water”.

The one time I paddled a 700, it felt like it was slowing down in rougher water. It was a rocketship in the flats and in moderate chop, though. All in where it was designed to be used.


But if

– Last Updated: Jun-12-07 1:44 PM EST –

he's going in a straight line, and you're turning, you're going farther than he is. Therefore, you have to be going quite a bit faster to beat him.

Or were you both turning? Either way, you're still going faster. The maneuverability advantge allows you to go faster over the same non-linear course. Most true rough water paddling is not done in straight lines, or anything close to it sometimes.

But I agree that they are not designed for the same uses, so a real comparison isn't fair to either boat.