QCC vs. Thunderbolt

Have been paddling a QCC700 for the past two years and have been considering purchasing either a Thunderbolt (or possibly an EFT) from West Side Boat Shop. My question is, does anyone paddle, or have experience with both of these kayaks? If so, how significant is the difference in stability/tippiness between the two?

i’ve had both
I currently have a Q700 and had a Tbolt for about 1.5 years.

The Tbolt is worlds away from the 700 in terms of speed and tippiness. There is no question that it is as fast as the fastest surfskis (Mako for example), whereas the 700 is for me at least, about 0.5-1mph slower than my current ski (Mark 1- a bit slower than the Mako in the hands of a truly elite paddler)over a 5 or 10 mile time trial. I didn’t have a GPS when I had the Tbolt, but I would estimate my speed then as being equal to my current speed on the Mark 1 (I’m in better shape now, so it’s not a perfect comparison). Speeds posted in races for the Tbolt and the top skis are very comparable.

Stability of the Tbolt is far, far less than the Q700, and again, in my experience very comparable to a ski. It may perhaps have a bit more secondary stability, simply because it has a hull that comes up higher around the paddler (you fall out of a ski at that point !). However, it is an almost completely round hull, which will flip over on you in a heartbeat. It does roll easily, provided you are wearing the full neoprene skirt that West Side will sell you. Rolling without the skirt or with the partial skirt is a real challenge.

Basically, I ended up selling the Tbolt to buy a surfski, and then selling my previous sea kayak to buy the Q700. My reasoning was as follows:

  1. I hated having to wear the full neoprene skirt with the Tbolt in the summer (in GA), but I felt you had to for anything other than a dead calm lake or river, since you had to be ready to roll.

  2. I can get exactly the same performance out of a surfski, but can completely enjoy taking it in the ocean and onto rough lake conditions, knowing that I just have to hop back on if I fall off.

  3. I can swim off the ski, without having to land the boat first.

  4. I pretty much only use a closed boat (the 700) in the winter, when I appreciate having a boat that is stable enough that I have very, very little chance of flipping it.

  5. For racing, the 700 will usually get put with the fast sea kayks, where it belongs, and the Tbolt and ski will always end up in the unlimited class, where they belong.

    So, my advice to you, since you already have a great fast sea kayak, is to consider getting a surfski instead of the Tbolt.

    I’ll be interested in other’s opinions.


Own a QCC 700 also and have paddled the Thunderbolt, EFT, Exceed, etc. Of the Thunderbolt and EFT, the EFT is definitely closer to the QCC in terms of stability, etc. than the 'Bolt. It’s noticeably faster too, than the QCC;basically a detuned racing boat. The hung seat and particularly, tiller bar steering, may or may not be your cup of tea. In the fast sea kayak echelon,in terms of performance intent toward the racing end of the spectrum, I’d place the top three as QCC700, then Epic 18, then EFT. The Nelo Razor probably slots in somewhere by the EFT. The Q and the Epic are very close in terms of performance while the EFT is another notch above, and the Thunderbolt a notch further above that. I know there are people out there that use their 'Bolts as their primary kayaks-they dominate the Blackburn Unlimited division, so you know they’re capable (along with paddler skill, of course) of great speed in nasty conditions, but they’re nowhere near as benign as a true touring kayak design. That said, I’d love an EFT, but my Q is very comfortable and handles well in conditions, and I now own a ski for the sheer need for speed.

My t-bolt and eft have bulkheads and thigh braces(Dealer might have some from old boat). With htigh braces both boats are fun and fast but not real safe without bulkheads that I added. Eft does have understern steering and front and rear bulkheads made of white ethafoam with 3m 77 glue and plastic 3 in drain plugs. Would like to try qcc boat but my glider might be simialr and it has tiller steering just like west side boats.

FL Gulf - get a ski
A agree with comments above. Try a ski. Join the Yahoo Surf Ski Group.


Hook up with “Dogtessa” on there. A real character. Very pro ski, and he usually has a few around he offers for tryouts. Also has some for sale now and then. To buy - also talk to Bruce at VentureSport in Boca - http://www.VentureSport.com - and MotionTech (?) on the Gulf side.

I have a Q700. Seems crazy stable now - like a raft (not so at first coming from 28" SOT!) I’ve only paddled an EFT very briefly on flat water (Hex’s - he’ll likely post a much better comparison). I found the EFT more stable than I was expecting - a little less than the 700 - but more different feeling than simply less stable, and that only on the initial sit-flat stability due to rounder hull. Secondary was really solid. No GPS - but felt noticeably faster. No nonsense boat with simple fittings and a great hull design. I haven’t tried a T-Bolt. Would like to, but have a ski that makes more sense in S FL (and it will be a while before I can paddle it off flat water).

QCC700 vs. Thunderbolt
Thanks for all of your feedback. Coinsidentally, I purchased a used ski about a month ago. I get out on the ski 3-4 times a week for an hour or so and I am enjoying the process. But it is a slow process. I am seeing consistent improvement, but any boat-wake or beam wind and things get ugly. Hoping by the end of the summer that I will have become confident/competent enough to get out of the intercoastel and out into the Gulf.

I have had several conversations with Joseph in Venice in the past few months and at one time was considering buying an XT that he was selling. My plan is to sell the ski that I currently have in the Fall and to then purchase an XT.

I’m staying with the QCC700 and the ski.

Curious, what ski?


– Last Updated: Mar-17-05 11:15 PM EST –

I received my Mako Mill from Bruce at VentureSport after a long waiting time back in early October or late September of '04. Because I was still racing with my other boat and living 7 miles inland, I did not start paddling it seriously until December when I moved to the intracoastal. Since then, I have been paddling it between 40 to 60 miles a week 4 to 5 times, mostly interval training and some long distance paddling as well.

The only I can tell you: wait a couples of months and you'll see. It is amazing what miles on the boat will do for you...

... at the end of the summer the Mako XT will be too slow for you if you started with a tippier boat.


What Ski?
Findeisen UX

West Side Boats
I’ve never paddled a QCC or EFT, but owned a Thunderbolt for 3 years & love it. I got my first boat from Doug in “83”, (Javelin) which I still have plus an XR-5, Wave Piercer, Delta and Wave Ultra. Never a problem in over 20 years.