Which West Side Kayak?

-- Last Updated: Dec-22-04 6:13 AM EST --

I weigh 185 and am 5'8". I presently have a QCC700 and would like to buy a second kayak. I like the QCC but am interested in a faster boat that I can go out on 1-4 hour trips on our lake as well as occassionally race in. Being able to carry gear is not an issue (I'll use the 700 when I want to go longer). I grew up racing K1 and am comfortable with less stable kayaks. Having said that, our lake tends to be quite windy and I am not sure how boats, such as the Thunderbolt, handle waves and wind. Some of what I have read here suggests that with a Thunderbolt it is difficult to reach for a water bottle. Someone who has a Thunderbolt has suggested that the Exceed would be a good boat for me to consider. Any opinions on which West Side kayak I should consider given what I am interested in (e.g., really fast boat that will handle wind and small waves well)? Thanks in advance.

Sounds like a good choice. Slightly faster than the QCC, and a whole lot lighter. Not as tender as the Thunderbolt. Tried both, along with an Excel. The E.F.T. was the most comfortable for me, and (no surprise) the Thunderbolt the fastest. If you do much surfing, consider the understern rudder vs. the overstern, or opt for both hookups. Beautiful boats-those Westsides. Doug knows his stuff.

Owned both
The eft is more seaworthy for sure. if you have an qcc 700 you could use that on rough water. The thunderbolt is great in following and headwinds. Much more stable than A sprint k-1 an not much slower espcially in any rough water. Understern rudders work best for rough waters.

It all depends waht you want do with it.

Cheers Dan

Water bottles and Thunderbolts

– Last Updated: Dec-22-04 4:25 PM EST –

Is it true that you have to be careful reaching for a water bottle in a Thunderbolt? Anyone have experience with the exceed? Anyone have a sense of how much faster a Thunderbolt or Exceed is relative to a 700 (in mph)?

BTW, I am primarily interested in hard aerobic workouts on our lake. I have always enjoyed maintaining a good pace when I am kayaking on our lake. The lake btw, is 20 miles by 3 miles and is nearly always windy.

Relative speed
How fast are you in your 700? That number could be used to see whether you might be better off working on speed a bit more there before moving up, or if you’re fast enough now for a switch to really help. Seeing what you’re doing in the 700 now may help folks recommend how much of a jump to make.

All I’m saying is the boat is the second priority as far as getting more speed. Motor work comes first. If you really want a workout, get something short and wide!

(Hex, where are you? Your Q700 to EFT experience might shed some light)

Another choice
You might want to look at the Nelo Razor, as an alternative. I have just had a blast paddling mine and I like the narrow entry for an efficient forward stroke with a wing paddle, a good fast boat. Also, If you are at all considering an open deck boat, there are many surfski’s that are great to paddle and race.

I have both,

– Last Updated: Dec-22-04 6:02 PM EST –

the Q700 and EFT,,, difference is about 30 seconds a mile,,, which adds up to quite a bit in a race. I haven't paddled a T-bolt,, but the EFT is more tender than the Q700, even though secondary on it(EFT) is quite surprising. If you plan on using it in races,, remember that the T-bolt will probably be in "Unlimited" class while the EFT is usually in the "Sea Kayak Touring",,, big difference! If you are used to paddling a K-1 you should have no problem adjusting from the SealLine foot pegs to the tiller bar set-up WestSide uses,,, as far as myself not ever having paddled a boat with a tiller bar, it took some time

P.S My EFT has the overstern rudder as I sometimes paddle in shallow areas and the kick up feature works well.

I use a camel back all the time a lot easier and you keep hydrated, Or just use a tube and put in the boat been using it for decades works really effectively

Cheers dan

E.F.T. Seconded
I agree the E.F.T. is a good choice for the type of paddling you describe. I have owned an E.F.T. for about a year and paddle it almost exclusively, having logged around 1K miles in a variety of conditions without a capsize.

As another poster mentioned, the E.F.T. has surprisingly good secondary stability for a round-bottom performance kayak. I have no trouble opening my spray skirt and getting my water bottle out from behind the cockpit in moderate conditions (orienting the boat into the wind helps.) Paddling into and with the waves is a piece of cake, and the boat surfs nicely.

It is a bit more tender in beam conditions of course, but still manageable. I have had my E.F.T. in winds up to around 30 kts. and turning in these conditions is authoritative and easy with the excellent understern rudder, tiller bar steering system and the boat’s pronounced rocker.

I have never paddled a Thunderbolt but Doug Bushnell says its stability is similar to the Exceed which I have paddled and found to be less stable than the E.F.T. by a fair amount. While I never got really used to the Exceed, I doubt I could get to my water bottle in it in conditions like I can with the E.F.T.

Anyway, if it were me I’d go with the E.F.T. if you want a good-performing West Side boat for work in wind. I personally think it’s a great blend of speed and stability in a performance kayak.

Is there any chance you could get your hands on these boats for a test paddle before deciding? If you live out west, Bushnell has a West Coast rep (in Sacramento, CA) who can make these boats available for a demo if you’re in the area.

Good luck.

K1, QCC, and TB:
Since you have stayed up and paddled well in a ICF K1, the Thunderbolt shouldn’t be a problem.If interested in speed, that’s the one to have unless going into surfskis. No need to do intermediate steps when one jump would finish off the boat purchases. Borrow one for an hour and try it out.

I agree
Why to stop in the middle.

A T-bolt or fast surfski should be the best options for you if you have already a very stable boat.

If you also want to race, a top surfski will be a bit faster --at equal paddler-- with a narrower paddle entry to perform a better forward stroke, and at least to me, more user friendly.



Yes to camelbak
or similar sytem. Waterbottle? Why? Break your rhythm, stability issues small capacity stowage issues.

Camelback and a tube director and you are done.

Like to try an eft.

hydration pack
Try platypus then use aluminum wire around the end to stiffen for absolutey hands on the paddle drinking of water. Possible water tank on floor of boat in front or back of you with a clip to your hat or pfd. My eft is wonderful on lakes with understern rudder. I like kevlar for visibilty and both under and overstren rudder but switching can take tough hours. My eft has front and back bulkheads and deck lines for holding unto boat if wet exit. Also reentry brackets behind cockpit for paddle float reentry. T-bolt has rear bulkhead made of 2in white ethafoam with a 3in plastic drain plug. Used 3m 77 glue and it works great. T-bolt with overstern rudder wants to go paraleel to waves but the understern might be ok. Both are great. I love Doug. What a great man!!!

thigh braces
Both have thigh braces from a junked out boat.

West Side Boat

– Last Updated: Dec-23-04 10:27 PM EST –

I've paddled Doug's boats for over 20 years. The "Thunder" would be best for racing/training. I have to go along others that would encourge you to go with the "Thunder". It's very comfortable for a racing boat, has a nice "wing" entry position, (just a bit wider than an older style k-1), handles head & following waves very well due to it's upswept/flared bow. For training & fast cruising it would be a little faster & more fun than the EFT. Since you've already got the other boat, I think if you went with the EFT, you would always wonder about the "Thunder". I sure love mine! Doug has rudders for all conditions. Mine is set up for both over & understern. I use only solid footbraces on all my boats. You can rig a camelback to work with or without a pfd. When they made Bushnell they threw away the mold! He's a legend.

Thanks for Assistance
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions on what boat to get. Merry Christmas. Doug