Thunderbolt vs. Mako or other skis.

Anyone have experience paddling both out in the bumps ?

Is the TB less bouncy upwind ?

Stability similar to Mako ?

Do you ever wish for more or even use the underdeck portions of the TB?

Does the TB react to rudder like the skis ?

Thoughts on downwind / swell speed ?


ski vs tbolt

Got your creative juices going!!!

My 2 cents

Paddled a burton Molakai for 10 years

CD speedster 2 season

EFT 2 years

T-bolt 2 years

Surf skis are great hot weather boats. the burton molkai was good going into rough water. High seat pretty tippy in the rough(high seat). Smaller choppy waves hard to catch. Most of my paddling was done on inland lakes and once on the ocean. The t-bolt mostly on lake ontario. The t-bolt is great going into the wind it really surfed downwind better than the molokai. Did a race on Lake Champlain, the beginning was really rough got side surfed by a breaking 8 footer. If in a ski would been a big swim. Caugth about a 3 footer and rode it for about 5 minutes. Our water is really chop. the t-bolt can really pop on wave and surf thru the next one occassionally it will bog down and i have settle back and catch again. or surf it out to the side. the Molakai did this reasonably well.

My t-bolt is outfitted with a North shore back band, A solid toe brace and a full foot brace. the bow is 1 1/2 inches lower just sitting in the water loaded. Spent hours setting it up. It is not much slower than a sprint boat on the flat. its does 1000 meters around 4:30 if was in a sprintboat low 4:20.

My only change would be a reduced area in front of the cockpit. To get closer more vertical catch

Many of the new zealand boats have this. Have only paddled a Futura inferno once in a race but it was pretty flat. surfed a motor boat wake ok. Paddled an SX-1 for an hour. It was a nice boat.

Would love to do some comprehensive testing of boats. My theory is to paddle 1 mile or 1000 at fixed pace with a heart rate moniter then check the effort after.

So let me know what you are thinking.



tbolt vs mark 1
i have found the tbolt to be faster upwind than the mark 1, with much less slap. on flat water it may be slightly faster as well. however, i have found the ski to be significantly faster downwind in short, steep chop, catching many more rides in sequence and holding them longer. in fairness, i have an overstern rudder on my tbolt and this may account for the difference downwind. the extra rocker on the mark 1 may also account for this, as our lake waves tend to be very steep and closely packed. in better spaced waves this might not be an issue. based on my limited time in a mako, i think the mako would be faster than the tbolt in all conditions, especially downwind.


cowards view
With the hung seat my hips were too tight in the t-bolt to really rotate but felt more stable because hips were locked in. Alaways had bad time trying to surf with t-bolt because short understern rudder was out of water and boat wanted to be paralell to wave unless you really j-lean it. I love the small out of the way thigh braces I added to eft and t-bolt because my knees have something to grab unto. And added bulkheads to both boats because am not that comfy way out on big water. My very limited use of skiis would say seat is way too high with a high center of gravity. Congratulations to Mr Murn because he is the only one I saw doing big water in cd speedster. Years of icf sprint boat. I love the eft with understern rudder because you can really lay down the power and it is fastest boat allowed in usca nats and 20 in wide class at blacburn.

Thanks Dave, Dan and Andrew …
do you find yourselves pushing your knees out / up into under deck coaming for some security if it gets a little mixed up or do you just keep powering with feet close together, letting the boat roll under you a la surfski ? Is the the T-Bolt’s 36" rim a good size ?

Thanks … just collecting data for now : )

Thigh Braces
Not to beat a dead horse, but if you haven’t taken a look at Valley’s Rapier thigh brace set up, it’s worth a gander. I know the Westside boats use the thigh straps, but these have a tendency to slide up, etc., hence Dave’s modifying his boats for more secure bracing when you need it. The cockpit width on the Rapier along with its hung seat is a bit on the narrow side for my liking, but the high (yet cutaway for close to the centerline paddle catch) foredeck positions the oddly hooked thigh braces right where needed, while still allowing for a more knees up position, out of the way when you don’t. As you all have noted, the keyhole cockpits on many boats are so narrow at the front, that although it’s possible to pop your legs out from under the braces, as many of us do, it’s a tight squeeze. Curious about EFT as compared to T-Bolt…any commentary? Letter writing to Santa now…space in the garage for just one more, just one more…


Yes find my self leaning with my legs, when getting tossed abit. Just reflex action from paddling WW boats. The large cockpit does make entry easier. The straps do work for rougher water. A smaller cockpit woudl be like A dr raceboat. It is pretty easy getting in the t-bolt.

Very glad to help you anyway I can.



pat- it sounds like you are feeling people out with the idea of making a somewhat similar raceboat. my concern with the tbolt cockpit is that i definitely wouldn’t trust this massive skirt in breaking ocean waves. the skirt will just pop off, filling the boat. i always use my ski in the ocean and no amount of tweaking that skirt would ever convince me otherwise. if you use a smaller, ocean-appropriate cockpit and skirt, i think it would be very hard to maintain the k1-like feel of the tbolt. you’d basically have a very long and tippy conventional SK.

as far as balance, i keep my legs together, but have myself tight enough back by my butt that i can control the boat that way, same as with the ski. the tbolt actually gets tippier, i think, if you splay your legs to try to brace. i much prefer keeping them together.


Tideline 21?,
Sounds like you are thinking Tideline 21, longer, narrower, faster than the 19. :wink:


Take the shortcut Pat
Take the Mermaid design and stretch to 21’ with around an 18" +/- beam (from what I remember in your pictures the basic lines are already cleaner than my Mark 1).

From what I hear your seat and cockpit layouts are great. Maybe tweak so there’s adjustability of seat position fore/aft and height to adapt to paddler/conditions. You already have a decent rudder control option. Build in a tube setup for removable under-stern ski type rudder, and a stern mount and some clip on cable extensions for a removable over-stern setup. Max options built in, but still a simple setup.

Just rambling, as usual.

Thanks for input …
Never thought of that Andrew good point. I think the deck might be able to flair up sort of like those kiwi skinny boats do … picturing something fresh and different here though.

Just wondering how everyone else feels about under deck contact in a long, ruddered boat.

Mermaid grew longer this winter Greyak, for sure will be set up to install any…still tinkering with understern kit. I did not get a chance to paddle the Mark 1 yet but i do like the clean lines of it. Q: How would it compare to the XT, S1-R or Red 7 60 ? Seats in all my boats already move around without tools.

New set of lines and rocker percolating.


The tiller rudder understern really works well. Not a lot of moving parts. The narrow high bulge is great for performance paddling. My supernova has it. The moveable seat and foorbrace are always a must have. send me your e-mail please I have found some intersting articles to send you

Cheers Dan

I’m not the one to ask about skis
They all make pretty inconvenient yard ornaments.

Never seen a Red 7 or S-1R.

I’ve seen 2 XTs a several Millenniums, a Twogood Mako (Barton’s he raffled at B&B 2004?), Several Findeissens, one S1-X, and the prototype V10.

Only been on a Findeissen UX and the Mark 1 - and only flat.

If I’d gone from SOT straight to ski, maybe I’d be somewhere by now - but my diversion into sea kayaks (and enjoyment of GP) has taken my available paddling time and has made me really like being able to lock in to brace/roll (though I still paddle pretty loose cruising). SK also let’s me stay fat and lazy! Ski still holds interest - just not able to put in the time yet.

typo- 2 cockpits
The overstern rudder is out of water with surfing t-bolt. I really think the big cockpit on t-bolt is for portage races such as 90 miler where you get out of boat 20 times and by rights Mr Bushnell should also offer a small cockpit. When comparing eft with t-bolt, the eft is 100 times more forgiving and for me the t-bolt will never be a big water boat even with 1000’s of miles of flatwater races such as 70 miler and 90 miler on lakes. The extra lenghth of t-bolt is really handy if you weigh 225# but someone who is 150 is definitely faster in shorter boat and much easier for portage when forced to get in and out in deep water perpendicualr to shore