qcc700 vs epic18 handling

I don’t care which is faster and speed has already been addressed in a recent thread. But which is easier handling in rougher conditions? Which easier to control in following seas? Which easier to turn into and off a strong beam wind? Which is more confidence inspiring while passing through a tide rip with confused seas?

I demo’d the Epic into head seas and found it lifted and pounded down more than I liked. Would the QCC do the same?

I would be using the rudder on whichever I bought and paddling empty 98% of the time.

Not what these boats are about.
The qualities you found unsettling in the Epic are likely less pronounced in the QCC. However, for rough water and challanging conditions, many other boats are often preferred.

one more time
it’s been said dozens of times before, but i will try to say it one more time. these are both terrific boats. skilled paddlers can use these just fine in rough water, where they provide a very nice combination of speed and handling. check out the recent expedition detailed on the epic site for a first person account of the behavior of the epic on a fully loaded expedition in rough water (i don’t own an epic, btw, and i sold my 700 for a faster boat).


I can’t speak to you about the Epic. but

– Last Updated: Nov-16-05 6:39 AM EST –

I can talk to you about the QCC.
I ordered mine seveal years ago so that I could start racing with the faster boats, ( I know you are not intested in racing, but hear me out)!
I had always paddled a plastic Eclipse which is much wider, so I was pretty apprehensive about the skinny 700.
The day of the second race, was only the second time I was in the boat, and the race was almost cancelled by the coast guard because of rough seas, but after some agreement with the organizers to change the course and keep it close to shore they allowed it to continue.
It was so rough, a lot of the paddlers withdrew before the race, and a bunch of the others dropped out during it.
I was real apprehensive, but figured this was as good a time as any to see how the yak would handle the rough conditions.
The course was three laps of a mile, each lap being two miles and the down leg was straight into about a twenty mph wind and big time white caps.
The bouy turn was about as hairy as it could be since we were getting it sideways, and then on the return leg we were surfing on the whitecaps.
The kayak behaved like a charm, and after the first lap I actually enjoyed myself except for a few "oh sh--s" on that bouy turn.
I fully expected the kayak to bunce like a ball heading into the waves, but it cut through them and handled them much better than I was expecting.
On the return leg it was as much fun as running WW rapids. I was surfing at what seemed like a hundred yards at a time on each braking whitecap.
It solidified it for me.

I try not to go out if the weather report is predicting bad stuff, but there have been several occasions where the weather has kicked up to equal those conditions and I have had no fear or trouble making it back.
My wife will echo the same for her 600.

I have played with it in surf at the ocean and it also surfs better and is much better to control than my plastic Eclipse in the breakers.

I Have been through several rips and it handles as good as I expect it to

My take, but for all I know the Epic 18 might be equal


I echo JackL’s experience
I have paddled my QCC 700 in varing conditions. I can not comment on the Epic, though watching one in calm waters I suppose it would do fine. I did, not by choise, find myself faced with about a two mile paddle into a 20-25mph wind and 2-3 foot breaking waves, with a short period. I had some get ready issues and some learning issues, but the boat never had any problem at all. It handled the waves without problem, I was able to keep my heading, I was able to change course for some larger wakes from large sport fishermen, the bow seemed to ride up and over part of the waves and cut through part of the waves. The QCC was at home in this type of water.


re: other boats are often preferred

– Last Updated: Nov-16-05 6:58 PM EST –

The originator of the post already noted unplesasant experience with an Epic in conditions. The manner in which boats handle conditions varies greatly. This does not mean they are not capable boats.

Even though they may be fine in conditions, the primary focus of Epic and QCC design is not claimed to be their rough water handling.

Not having paddled an Epic or QCC in conditions, I cannot comment on their manner of performance. It is clear from those that have paddled these boats that they CAN handle conditions. It also seems that they handle them in a somewhat different manner from each other as well as from Valley or NDK boats intended for such use.

That other boats are often preferred by paddlers anticipating challanging sea conditions speaks to the individual paddler's preferences as much as the boats' capabilities. For example:I prefer the way my Aquanaut handles conditions to the way an Explorer or a Chatham 18 handles the same conditions. Many I know prefer an Explorer to all others for challenging seas. All three are very capable boats.

I am glad for the expedition using Epics. I hope someday someone of the QCC cult undertakes a challenging sea journey. Boats actually being used for certain endeavors deepends the understanding of their designs.

Epic in rough water
I own an Explorer and a Carbon Epic Endurance. I’ve never paddled a QCC boat. The Explorer is my boat of choice in rough conditions for its stability, predictability and durability. Having said that, the Epic is a surprisingly stable kayak in rougher conditions given its narrow profile and racing design. However, the boat is very rudder dependent and its lack of rocker results in a lot more wave smacking than in my Explorer. The kayak just gets knocked around by waves more than my Explorer. The Explorer’s bow also tends to ride over waves whereas the Epic’s bow ploughs right through them resulting in a much wetter ride. I also do not consider the Carbon Epic to be nearly as durable a kayak as the Explorer. But the kayak is terrific for racing (used it in the Blackburn), great for fast touring in flat to moderate conditions and it really eats up the miles.

The Epic Battle Continues
No pun intended (well, maybe a small one). As Andrew noted, both boats are superb in a variety of conditions. Both will exhibit a degree of bow slap riding up and over swells and breaking waves; I know my QCC does (‘Thwack! Thwack!’) but aside from the sound effects, it’s very fast and controllable into the wind. Just about anything with a plumb bow design and that degree of bow volume will do same, I believe. You get used to it. In following seas, the slightly greater bow volume of the QCC resists pearling a bit better than the Epic, at least this is what one friend noted from his Epic when we were both out in four foot steep and tightly driven waves one day. I had the bow buried midway up the front hatch cover on occasion, and it just popped right back up, never an issue. Both are easily controllable and competent, and a hoot to surf. The only thing that surfs better is a ski, but my Mark 1 exhibits quite a bit of bow slap also. The Epic might have a slight nod over the QCC in the ability to pick up a swell here. Last year Sea Kayaker did a review of the Epic and testers noted it was one of the best boats ever reviewed in this regard. I might hazard that the QCC is a slightly more rounded sea kayak-after all, this was its design intent. The Epic platform is more of a detuned K-1 trainer in style, seating position, etc., but nowhere near other boats along these lines such as Nelo Razors, Kayakpro Jets, etc. IMHO, both boats perform so closely, it all boils down to paddler skill and preference in ‘feel.’ Paddle them both-buy the one you’re most comfortable in, and like the feel of best. It might be difficult to get a test spin in a QCC due to its man ner of distribution, but you might be able to find someone out there that lives nearby willing to let you have a test spin. Seeing as there’s no profile posted, not sure where you are-if you’re in the NE, you’re welcome to give mine a go. I bought my 700 sight unseen and although there are always things you’d like to change with any boat, I am so very impressed with the design, performance, level of quality, and the company as well. Epics too, have their strong following. Hard to go wrong with either.

“Not having paddled “
That about says it all. L

You mention preferring the feel of the Aquanaut to the Explorer. I have not paddled the Aquanaut - but have paddled Explorers. I would bet the difference from the Explorer is a little more in the direction of the way a 700 handles than away from it. I suspect you would find the 700 a lot more like your Aquanaut than you may imagine. But then, maybe a 1” lower front deck, less beam (but better stability), more speed, and better surfing ability aren’t appealing qualities for you. L

A comparison experience I had that may illustrate further the differences between a classic Brit and modern QCC in conditions:

Q700 ( a supposed flat water kayak) vs. VCP Pintail (a near legendary rough water boat). Same day, location, conditions - two very different kayaks.

3’ very short period wind wave and significant chop/whitecapping. Wind 20 kts. Nothing extreme - but far from flat and a fair test of handling.

Took the 700 out first. At all angles it was confident, inspiring and great fun. Easy to punch upwind of course. Very well behaved on beam and all quarters. Tight slow or stopped turns can require some attention/timing - but expected with such a long waterline and that much boat in the wind. Not hard at all, just different than a short boat. Much easier if you have some forward speed. The real payoff comes surfing downwind. Catches waves easily, stays on them, and gives very satisfying rides. Addictive. In a word: Awesome.

Next, I swapped for the Pintail. Given the rough water play reputation of this boat I fully expected it to be even more fun. The reality proved otherwise. The Pintail is slow (no surprise there) and this made it a real chore to paddle upwind. I expected this a bit - but this was hard work where it had been only moderate effort in the 700. Front quartering the Pintail seemed to bob and see-saw more. Good stability (actually the primary and secondary are very similar between these kayaks at my weight). Turning is super easy (Spintail), but the downside to this maneuverability is much more work to keep on line and actually get anywhere. On beam - the kayaks are pretty similar, with the slower pintail suffering a bit more. Rear quarter - MUCH harder to keep the Pintail on line and moving - it wanted to broach and was difficult to keep decent forward speed as it bogged down in every trough. Down wind - it wallowed and cut into the waves so much that I was hard to catch the wave energy. A 20 yard ride would be a miracle. I was getting 100 yard rides consistently in the Q700. In a word: Disappointing.

I’m not saying the Pintail ride was bad - it was fine - but when compared to the 700 it was boring and required a significant amount of added effort at all angles to the wind. It would no doubt be safe/easier to manage in a dumping surf zone or rock garden if you wanted to stay there all day - but anywhere else I see no advantage - and a ton of drawbacks.

The Pintail is an extreme - but even the venerable Explorer (still on my top 5) has some of the same characteristics to a lesser extent. It’s sort of midway between the Pintail and QCC in most respects. (I’d guess your Aquanaut to be midway between Explorer and 700 in handling)

I had the 700 in a race in the Atlantic in 3-5’/20kts (bigger out over the reefs and around the markers. It was a mess, had the kayak airborne (off the lip of a much larger than average about to break [hissing ominously] wave - barely missed sliding back down the wave face and flipping backward). Needless to say conditions had my full attention, yet I never even had to throw a serious brace that day. Again, not epic stuff for some of you hard core offshore paddles - but a big day for me. Saw many paddlers drop out. Several dumped. Doubled my appreciation of the 700 (and my GP). Bottom line: I would not have wanted to be out there in the Pintail. I’d have never finished.

Something like an Explorer would have been great for dealing with conditions that day too - but less fun and slower. While I was having fun - I would not have wanted to drag certain sections out any longer.

Biggest trouble with the 700 - you get great handling AND speed and that spoils you for most other production sea kayaks. Only option from there are more specialized hulls for racing, play, surf, etc. Only serious downside for me is the rear coaming height - but my outfitting has made this a minor issue. It is now easier for me to do a layback in than the Pintail.

I have tried to incorporate a lot of benefits/lessons from the 700 (and comparisons to many other kayaks) into my SOF design. Compared to most Greenland designs it will have a longer LWL, fuller ends (no pinch), and be swedeform with similar rocker profiles (more than people think for 700). I’d like similar handling while reducing volume, shaving 2” off the beam, low rear deck and more personalized fit for rolling… If it works well I’ll have a fun boat. If not, I’ll still learn a lot!

Very often preferred…but

– Last Updated: Nov-16-05 2:11 PM EST –

don't tell that to some of the QCC fanatics.They swear their QCC's are JUST FINE in rough water and anyone who moves to another more accomodating kayak for those conditions has just not learned the intricasies of the QCC. All of which is just a load of defensive BS. I can handle the QCC in rough water, but I am sure there are better kayaks for textured water.

I have a QCC700 which I paddled for over a year and a half and enjoyed the hell out of it...until I found how much better I enjoyed my Pygmy Arctic Tern in rough water. I never paddled the Epic but it looks close enough like the QCCsothat behaviour is probably not that pronoiuncedly different.

Aquanaut - QCC 700

– Last Updated: Nov-16-05 7:06 PM EST –

You might be right that the Naut's performance in seas is between a 700 and an Explorer. It is certainly a faster, better tracking boat than the Explorer with a tighter bow. Its rounder chines, I think, also contribute to its smooth transitions through rough seas.

My lesser enthusiasm for the Explorer's behavior likely results from its greater rocker and very light bow. An aspect that unsettles me is the Explorer's hard slap down on the back of waves - the boat shudders when doing this - as does my Romany. The Aquanaut does not slap down so hard nor does it shudder in this manner.

I hope it did not read as if I was disparraging of the 700 or the Epic. I do not wish to do so. I did want to note that many people perfer other boats for rough seas.

The QCC cult orthodoxy seems to be that QCC boats are the best boats for all skilled paddlers in all conditions. The deity did not design QCC boats. They have weaknesses and strengths just as any other boats.

Different boats do things differently. This is an aspect of why so many of us have more than one boat.

As long as the boats under consideration are all competant boats, it really comes down to which puts the biggest smile on a particular paddler's face.

most short boats
Most short stable rockery boats (not talking flat bottomed tubs like keowees) are more accomodating in rough water. Longer, skinnier boats are more difficult. It is a trade off for speed. If you will only be paddling slow get a shorter, wider, more rockered boat. Epic, QCC, etc… cover more ground more quickly but require more practice to do so. Kind of like my surfski.

One man’s opinion

– Last Updated: Nov-17-05 8:02 PM EST –

Consider the source. I weight 190#. I paddled several rudder kayakes until I completed BCU 4Star training and with the help of QCC staff grew into my kevlar - QCC600 - skeg kayak.

I have paddled my QCC in 15-25 knot winds coming from every direction and found the skeg to be fine. It did require some minor edging but very little if any paddle compensation.

As for the volume issue. I have observed if you have a boat with too much volume for you weight, it will bounce off the tops of the waves. I had the same problem you did but, when I am on long trips and packed to the max the QCC moves very easily through the waves.

If you paddle the current designs, which are heaver and have less bouyancy (specifically forward of the cockpit) you will not bounce. You will go through the waves.

With high volume boats and tall sort frequency waves, you can get caught with two waves holding you in the air, this is scary. I have read stories about this problem, but when it happened to me, it is very unsettling.

What makes the QCC fast, can make it "bounce". For those conditions consider putting some weight in the boat. For the rest of the time you will just paddle very efficient boats.

Choosing a kayak is complex. They are like tools, you need the right tool for the right job. You just may need more than one kayak.....

qcc700 vs epic18 handling
jim3727 wrote: ‘I found how much better I enjoyed my Pygmy Arctic Tern in rough water’

What about the Arctic Tern do you prefer? Do both or neither have rudders.

scombrid wrote: ‘Epic, QCC, etc… cover more ground more quickly but require more practice to do so.’

On the contrary, I find that it requires more practice to use my short maneuverable Mariner Express than my longer straighter tracking Solstice GTS, in rough water.

JackL and markinnc,

Your experience of immediately getting used to the 700 in rough water is very encouraging. I am leaning toward the 700. I was also considering the Current Designs Extreme since I like my Solstice GTS so much when travelling in windy conditions.

wilsoj2 wrote: ‘For example:I prefer the way my Aquanaut handles conditions to the way an Explorer or a Chatham 18’

I demo’d all these boats in perhaps 15 kts and some swell. They all seemed ok and I also preferred the Aquanaut. But I have since decided to get a lighter faster boat with a rudder.

njpaddler17 wrote: ‘the Epic is a surprisingly stable kayak in rougher conditions given its narrow profile and racing design. However, the boat is very rudder dependent and its lack of rocker results in a lot more wave smacking than in my Explorer.’

I wonder if the qcc700 is similarly rudder dependent, although I have heard not. I do not like this characteristic. For instance, I hate the the Looksha II.


Thanks for a very insightful discussion of the Pintail and rough water. It agrees with my experience with GTS and Mariner Express.

BTW - My 700 has skeg
(and so the 700/Pintail comparison also was between two skeg boats). Works fine. Great after I changed the skeg control setup. Kayak’s also set up more like a Brit boat with foam foot brace surface and such.

EPIC is designed to run with rudder full time IMO - like everything Greg and Oscar paddle. Not a problem, just a difference, and probably a bonus for most - except those who don’t like rudders. I would not want an Epic without one - and probably not with a skeg either if it were available. I just wasn’t designed with those options in mind.

The original post mentioned planning to use rudder 98% - so maybe the EPIC makes more sense. I don’t think the QCC benefits from full time rudder use in the same way. Only beneficial in certain wind conditions - or racing. Either rudder or skeg are OK on the 700 for most paddling - and not needed most of the time, but don’t buy without either on such a long hull. Choice depends depends on personal preference and intended use. If racing’s your thing get the EPIC, or if you get the QCC get the rudder. Otherwise, consider joining the minority with skegs.

Another point (maybe mentioned already) The QCC has quite a bit more rocker - the EPIC little if any.

Quite different kayaks (appearances aside)- but with a lot of performance overlap.

Use of the rudder.
I can and do paddle the 700 all day long without the rudder, but I would not be without it in rip currents or strong quartering winds.

I was taken to task several years ago by a paddler on this forum on the rudder discussion when I made the statement that “I consider the rudder to be a safety device”.

I still stand by that statement.



Wilsoj2 … what do you mean by
"light" bow ? Thanks


– Last Updated: Nov-17-05 2:13 PM EST –

I suppose the more correct term is loose. The Explorer and Romany have very loose (light) bows. This is part of why they slide over waves and surf well. The problem is that they can get blown around. One of the great differences between Romany/Explorer and Avocet/Aquanaut is the bows. The Valley boats have tighter bows which tend to carve, the NDK boats have looser bows that tend to slide/skid.

Paddling a Romany into strong winds is a real chore. Last month I was doing so on Naragansett Bay and had the wind catch the bow and spin the boat around. This is far less likely to happen with an Avocet or Aquanaut.


In the original post I meant that I paddle empty 98% of the time, not use the rudder 98%, though I would use the rudder more often than not.

What attracts me to the QCC over the Epic is what appears to be a general concensus that the QCC hull is easier to manage in rougher water without its rudder than is the Epic without its.

Rudder Up!
I’d definitely agree with that. Note that QCC offers the choice of skeg or even ‘non-skegged’ boats; Epic does not. This is probably in part for ease of manufacturing/outfitting, but Greg knows his boat’s design, The Epic design is one that’s rudder intended vs. rudder dependent, like a ski. You can paddle it without, but why? Without turning this into the same old, same old rudder vs. skeg debate, if you’re racing, paddling strong crosscurrents, or surfing swells, rudders add immeasurably to the experience. I sometimes paddle my QCC without rudder just to foster boat handling skills. That said, since the Seal Line housing drags in the water anyway, might as well flip it down, and enjoy the extra control it affords. One less thing to think about if you’re concentrating on your forward stroke. I do believe that having a rudder makes me lazy though. Owning a skegged boat, like my Explorer, forces you to develop skills in edging and turning strokes (sweeps, duffek, stern rudders, etc.), and IMHO, makes you a better paddler all around. If you’re not practicing these, you do get rusty. The QCC handles quite well without its rudder; it’s surprisingly maneuverable for its length-the amount of rocker it does have it conceals. I wouldn’t call it a strong tracker, but for someone with developed skills, it has a degree of ‘looseness’ to it that allows you to edge it and spin it when necessary. Paddled my friends’ Epics and tried them with rudder up also-hard to describe, but the QCC feels much more ‘sea kayak-like’ in this regard; it turns when you want it to, stops turning when you direct that also. The Epic, once a turn is initiated rudder up, seems to want to keep turning. I noted that strongly when I tried the new Valley Rapiers, particularly the 21’. Fine, fast boats, that in the hands of a skilled paddler, could be made to do almost anything, but you could really feel their design intent. Note also on another thread that Seal Line is no longer supplying systems to QCC (and I would assume), Epic. This may affect your choice too, as I’m sure Phil could build you a Q-Tip to be outfitted with an alternative system instead of the old Feathercraft rudder and sliding pedals which I’ll guarantee you’ll come to hate if you like to paddle quickly. Here I’d consider a full brace system like Patrick’s Tideline with gas pedals would be a great choice for this boat. Lately, I’ve experienced real problems with the splay-legged seating position that most sea kayaks with separate pegs insist upon. Once you paddle something with a properly set up foot brace and either tiller bar or gas pedal steering assembly that allows you to position your feet anywhere across the span of the pegs, you’ll wonder why in heck they continue to manufacture performance minded boats with such a confining separate pedal position…but that’s another R&R.