WSBS T-bolt vs multisport kayaks

I wonder if anybody is familar with Thunderbolt and other West Side Boat Shop kayaks and, at the same time, with multisport kayaks from New Zealand like Sisson or Ruahine.

There is a nice comparison of kiwi multisport kayaks including speed, stability, robustness, ideal paddler weight range, etc.

A similar comparison is presented by Grahame Sisson limited to his kayaks:

Anybody could place T-bolt on these lists? I understand that T-bolt is open water kayak while these multisport kayaks are designed mostly for rivers, but I would paddle T-bolt mostly on rivers anyway. Actually, Ruahine has an interesting sea racer OceanX.

I paddle Sisson Nucleus 100 (17’2" x 18.9").

Well, I started to paddle her last spring and still have some problems in waves, otherwise, I have fun on my local twisty river. I wonder what difference in skills (stability) would be required by T-bolt and what difference in speed I could expect. I am thinking about distances of order of 10 miles here.

link to Ruahine kayaks and OceanX I mentioned above:

I paddled the Ocean-X this fall.
I was impressed with the combination of speed and stability this boat offered.

It took a few minutes to get use to using the rudder because the foot pegs are stationary. You use the rudder by a second set of pegs over the stationary pegs that you push with your toes or balls of your feet. Once I got use to it, I liked it better than the conventional set up.

I have not paddled the “Thunderbolt”, but my son has and he said he was unable to tell which boat was faster.


OceanX - Thunderbolt
It seems that both kayaks have the same total length, but OceanX is wider with a max beam of 19.6" against 18" for T-bolt. No waterline data are posted for OceanX.

Has OceanX appeared in any races in US? She was winning some races in Sweden.

The SRS rep who let me try the Ocean-X
said they were promoting the boat as one of the fastest in its class. Their hope was this boat would be superior to the Thunderbolt, especially in rough water.

I’m going to have him drop off a demo model for us to try this spring. We’ll see how it compares to the Thunderbolt.

I’ll post regarding how it performs in case anyone is interested.


The understern rudder is a huge improvement but feel all boats should have bulkheads and thigh braces . And I like paddlefloat reentry brackets in back of cockpit rim to keep paddle perpendicualr .

looks perhaps like something between Thunderbolt and EFT. I will be waiting for more information about her performance.

Who is promoting/distributing that kayak in US? SRS, Simon River Sports, representative somewhere on the east coast?

Mountain Wayfarer, Yes. SRS is taking
this line.

Tom Fotie is the SRS rep who let me try the boat. He lives in N. Carolina. I can give you his number if you are interested.


So, any comments on Thunderbolt?

How would you rate stability and speed of this kayak on the scale from 1 (olympic K1) to 10 (stable sea kayak) like in

“Thunderbolt” speed & stability

– Last Updated: Jan-14-05 10:45 PM EST –


I've owned my "Thunder" since "02" & love it. Some other West Side boats I've owned include; Javelin k-1, Valentia (Irish Cleaver), XR-5, Wave Ultimate, Dart (DR marathon), Wave Piercer (my design from 1987), & Delta.

I would rate the stability as beter than a DR. Speed is about like my Javelin k-1, but MUCH better in the shallows. I don't think it's as fast as the new narrower forebody k-1's, but add some wind & waves and the "Thunder" really shines.

Stability of boats I've owned tippy first; Valentia, Dart, Javelin, XR-5, Wave Piercer, Wave Ultimate, Thunderbolt & Delta. The Ultimate & "Thunder" have approx. the same section under the paddler. I find the stability of the "Thunder" is remarkable for 18" boat & is the most comfortable of all that I've owned, especially after an hour. I believe it's a fantastic combination of a long narrow waterline with a beautiful upswept/flared bow. All boats were expertly crafted & I still race XR-5 after 20 years. All boats except the "Thunder" & "Delta", (the only ones with boat bags) are in storage for winter. It's hard to beat a "Bushnell" kayak!


For sure

I agree with the assessment of the t-bolt it is one versitile boat. it is almost as fast as the older K-1’s i pAddle in rough open water with it all the time. Would love to try the evolution. It is probably a real ordeal get a baot shipped from overseas.

If you decide to get the t-bolt get the sliding adjustable seat. For shallow water it really helps to be able to adjust the trim


– Last Updated: Jan-16-05 12:02 PM EST –

Dwan and Dan, thank you for you comments! I am seriously thinking about Thunderbolt. The question is this year or next year. I am still not filling very comfortable in my Sisson Nucleus (18.9" beam) in rough water. I need more boat chop and hay stacks training.

Do you have any other suggestion for options or rigging of T-bolt to be used mostly on rivers, often shallow? Overstern rudder for sure.


– Last Updated: Jan-16-05 10:10 PM EST –


For deep water you want all the rudder you can get so it won't pop out. Mine came set up for the smallest understern, but I do have extra cable inside the deck for an overstern. I really should do this,(sometimes rain only comes from sprinklers). If I ran on lakes more, I would have the deep understern for sure. I'm not all that fond of oversterns, (overhang, slower & less control), but sometimes it's the only option. There is enough width at the footbraces to steer ok, with an overstern. Dan makes a good point about an adj. seat. Mine has a hung seat and it's by far the most comfortable I've had in a race boat & I don't like to deal with a post & wing nut, but the ability to trim is better! (It's possible to get an adj. hung seat). As for stability, I have a 17'x20" Wave Piercer & the "Thunder" is a bit more stable, even with it's 18" beam.

If you get one & go train on a shallow course, it will feel fantastic. Still, in time, you will get used to the glide. When you switch boats, you will wonder what's wrong with you! Good luck.


With a displacement of 100 kg the OceanX got a BWL of 45.5 cm .

The OceanX competed in a class for kayaks with a minimum weight of 28 kg.

A JKK Supernova copy with a weight of 15 kg did actually go a minute faster on the 40 km course, but in i the open class.

The OceanX is a race kayak and the front hatch is very small.

The Supernova can be used as a touring kayak.

OceanX vs Supernova
There is some discussion comparing Ruahine OceanX and JKK SUpernova on New Zealand discussion forum:

JKK kayaks look somewhat surrealistic with that super functional deck design:

Oicture of OceanX
A better picture of OceanX.

It is a long kayak, 6.40 meters.

shipping boats from New Zealand
Importing kayaks from New Zealand takes some time and hassle, but it’s not too bad. I ordered my Sisson in September 2003 and it was built and shipped from NZ in December. Other NZ kayak manufactures have probably shorter waiting time than Grahame Sisson. The boat arrived to Los Angeles on a container ship as scheduled after a couple of weeks and it took longer to tranport it by track from LA to Denver but it arrived in a perfect shape. It was somewhat difficult and confusing for me to deal for the first time with truck companies.

Thunderbolt and Sisson evolution
I’ve found a picture of Thunderbolt and Sisson Evolution side by side during Colorado River 100 race in Texas:

Both of them didn’t finish …

i have enjoyed reading your all your thoughts on multisport boats compared to the west side models. i’m a surfski paddler in seattle and am interested in getting a nz style multisport boat to add to my quiver. jkk, sisson, rauhine etc. any idea which boat/maker would be the easiest to get ahold of in the US ?

NZ multisport boats
Depending on your weight & ballance I’d order a JKK UFO. They tend to be the boat of choice for guys over 75kg, under 75kg a Sisson Evolution edge is the other choice, but has less secondary stability. Another boat that is starting to get results is an AMK Sharp, it is based upon a Fenn Ski & apparently is fast on flatwater, rivers & sea. Search for Topsport Kayaks to find some details. Shipping shouldn’t be too hard, there are lots of shipping companies that will fill a container with lots of different consinments(spell?) for shipping to the US & Canada.