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In brief... awesome boat.. fun, playful and seaworthy. Perhaps a little lite on the structure, but life's a tradeoff.
I started trying to sell the 600 immediately after receiving the 700 but didn't have any luck. Many lookers but no takers. So, from time to time I would switch boats and take the 600 out. Eventually, I decided to sell the 700 and keep the 600. Why?
The 600X is a great boat if you keep the weight down. I usually leave the dock at a little over 200 pounds + boat with all my stuff on board. The 600 paddles more like a sports car at that weight. The 700 tends to sit higher out of the water so it is affected more in high winds. Not a problem just different. Next, both boats are under 50 pounds but the 600 is easier to handle by myself when loading it on the trailer or on top of my golf cart.
In the end, the 700 now belongs to a friend of mine who is a stronger paddler and is able to get the extra speed out of it. If I was paddling heavy the 700 would definitely be the boat for me but for my style of kayaking the QCC600X is the boat for me.
My only small complaint is that water does leak into the back a little through the holes for the rudder. But I'm a 250lb paddle and am riding a little deep in the back. and for the record, thanks to Scott and his whole crew for putting on the best race ever!
The boat is actually a handful at this point on my learning curve, but there is no way I'm returning it. Another lesson or two and perseverance is all I need to grow into it. In fact, I'm thinking of getting a 600x as a second boat.
A word about the seat. It's the skinniest and most frugal looking of all the ones I've seen and tried. It's also the most comfortable.
To summarize, a happy experience so far.
Anyways, back to the review.
The kayak is absolutely stunning, very beautiful lines, and excellent attention to detail. But everyone else pretty much says the same, so I won't elaborate on this aspect.
The kayak is fast, fast, FAST! Short sprints have been GPS verified at 8.9 MPH (no current) and 10.4 MPH with 4MPH current. Not that anyone other than the man of steel could keep up this pace, but it is nice to know that I am the limiting factor on the top end speed. The kayak with the rudder deployed, tracks straight as an arrow. it is easy to oversteer with the foot controls, especially after 3-4 hours paddling and the lower extremities being numb. It has great initial stability for a 21" boat, and the secondary is good enough to take pictures of wildlife on the go. The boat is remarkably light and easy to load and transport, which is a real benefit the older you get!
The not so good:
Every kayak has both its good and bad points and this one is no exception, although none of these are a deal breaker by any means, just honest criticisms. First, I think it is because mine is made of a Kevlar Carbon fiber layup, the deck does have a tendency to "oil can" just forward of the forward hatch and between the rear hatch and the cockpit opening. I have not noticed any problems of "oil-canning" with the hull, which seems very stiff. I am worried a bit about the flexing of the deck behind the cockpit (I usually sit on the deck behind the cockpit with the paddle sitting across as an outirgger as I get in and out) I just hope it doesn't break or crack with repeated use.
The other thing that I have noticed is water from the cockpit tends to migrate into the forward and rear bulkheads. I have not rolled yet, so I know the water is not coming in from the deck hatches, so I am thinking the glassed in bulkheads are not quite as watertight as they could be. The water in the cockpit measured 1/2 cup and the water in the front and aft compartment totaled about 2-3 oz. ea. The foam padding is a tad on the thin side all around, so unless you carry extra padding on your person, you may want to look at supplementing the foam on the underside of the deck for your knees, the seat is comfortable for 2-3 hours, but a gel seat is in my future for longer trips.
I can't add much more to what other reviewers have had to say about this truly stunning kayak which has a lot going for it! It is a beautiful kayak that is fast, tracks straight, has good stability for a 21" wide kayak and is remarkably light for its 18 feet. Based on my own experience I would give this kayak a 9.5 out of 10. Tighter seals on the bulkheads, a little more stiffness right behind the cockpit and a tad thicker padding on the seat and this kayak would be a perfect 10. If you are looking for a new kayak, you need look no further than the QCC 700X.
Finally, I will add that everyone who has seen the boat was blown away by the looks of it.
Let's talk about my boating experience: Though more proficient in a canoe, I consider myself a beginner to intermediate paddler and enjoy kayaking bigger water, i.e. Lake Superior, the Gulf, the Pacific. The Q700 was the fastest and most maneuverable kayak I've ever used, and once I got used to it, I enjoyed paddling it in calmer conditions a great deal. If, however, you have significant waves and crosswinds, you will need some ballast and experience to feel safe (especially if you enjoy cross crossing frigid water to go camping like I do). Expect island hops to regularly require tacking at an extreme angle in order to safely cross.
This is not a boat for beginners, and the more I paddled it the more I felt comfortable in it. I must say it was a beautiful boat when not looking closely at the details.
Though I was looking for something a little more forgiving, that relates to my skill and my preferred usage, not the quality of the boat, and my ranking excludes this. I was seriously tempted to order a Q500 as a replacement, but like I said in my opening, what disappointed me was the craftsmanship and I decided to do a return, washing my hands of it for now. To QCC's credit they honored the return with minimal grumbling.
I downgrade this boat for two reasons.
The problem of leaking hatches has, I hope, been addressed in subsequent production. When I paddled rougher conditions (paddling and surfing three to six foot breaking waves, burying the front three feet of the boat in green water, and getting through tidal races with confused big waves), or rolling the kayak, the bow and stern compartments would ship water and eventually destabilize the boat. I had to add my own gaskets to the hatches.
When changing directions in the same confused conditions, taking time to change the skeg position was dangerous because I had to free a hand to move the skeg and could not brace. An understern foot-controlled rudder like a surf ski would be safer to use.
My boat has aged. The stainless steel screws that hold the deck fittings to the boat corroded, one side of the plastic seat broke away from its vertical support, and the skeg cable broke out of the plastic skeg.
I contacted QCC and they said "normal wear and tear, get it fixed on your own." OK, I guess that's reasonable. I took the boat to a local kayak shop which has an international level reputation and hosts a major sea kayak symposium every year.
QCC shipped them some parts, but hasn't sent other parts that were promised. QCC hasn't taken telephone calls, or responded to emails from me or the shop for several weeks. It's like a black hole of communication and followup.
So now I'm looking at retrofitting some other manufacturer's skeg system to repair my boat. I don't know if QCC is out of business, don't know if they can't get the part from a subcontractor, don't know if someone there just doesn't care.
Fortunately, I've got an even older Mariner Express that my girlfriend uses which has even more mileage on it. That boat has had no problems and is insanely seaworthy.
Paddling open water on Fort Peck Lake, and doing point to point crossings, I encountered winds and choppy water from every direction and this boat handled exceptional, predictable and lived up to its legendary speed. I lived out of this boat for 16 days and only carried the bare necessities on the deck; everything else fit below in the hatched compartments. I'm looking forward to more extended trips.
I will not get into the legendary great customer service that QCC has, as that topic has been covered herein by others. I will talk about the racing capability of the boat, however. The USCG and DNR has a yearly one-mile kayak race on the Potomac River, and I wanted to get a fast boat. After looking all over the Internet and at area outfitters, I found QCC. I got a red Q700X, and I call it my aquatic Lamborghini...... That baby is fast, and it looks beautiful.
I won the race last year in my Q700X, and I plan to race it again this year in the same kayak. If anyone is looking for a fast, stable, gorgeous boat, this is the one. I cannot append videos on this forum, but I have one from the race that I can share if anyone is interested in it.
Late last fall I purchased a near new ALL CARBON 700x from an active P-netter through the classifieds. Seems he went surf ski and never looked back. The boat was only 7-8 months old and not a single scratch on the hull. I was ecstatic to get such an excellent boat at a relatively great price. A road trip south, a couple of local paddles and then I was forced to hang it up for a little while to rehab an injury. I recently took the boat out to dust it off in anticipation of my first paddle of the season when I noticed what I thought was a scratch along the seam tape. Imagine my horror when I discovered that this "scratch" was in fact a separation of the deck and hull! I felt weak. This was supposed to be my ultimate kayak. I had such great expectations for the upcoming season. It all came crashing down in an instant. I didn't know what to do.
In the past if I had any problems with my 400x, I would just call Phil and he would work everything out with me. Now even Phil was gone..... I was utterly lost. Of course I was aware of QCC'S policy of complete boat replacement for a deck/hull seam failure (you did know that, didn't you?), but I hadn't purchased this boat from QCC....so after a couple of mind-numbing days I mustered the courage to call with my weak excuse of a second-hand, near new 700 with a seam failure and anticipated a lot of sympathy and little glue. Instead, my call was answered by Steve Freund. I hadn't finished my second sentence before I was interrupted with the magic words, "of course, we'll replace your boat with a new one". I felt like an oppressive weight had been lifted off my shoulders, the clouds parted and the sun began to shine again.
At best I was hoping for a free repair and only pay for round trip shipping. At worst, sorrowful commiseration and a tube of glue. This is like having your cake and eating it too. Being the type to push the envelope a little, I asked Steve, since we were building a new boat, if he would be willing to do a few mods...(I know, talk about looking a gift horse), of which we discussed the varying practicality. So I am getting the raised rudder, but they can't gel the American flag on the deck (too bad), and although I didn't receive a firm commitment, I wouldn't be surprised to find a little extra room in my front compartment....So now I wait anxiously and dream of days to come while resting comfortably in the knowledge that there are still companies that stand behind their products 100% and act as standard bearers for pride in the American made product. God bless America! God Bless QCC!
QCC does not advertise in kayak magazines and it is my opinion that for that reason none of the kayak magazines choose to review their boats (I could be wrong?). QCC has no dealers, no showrooms, no reps. and does not advertise (except on Paddling.net! Rock On!).
At first blush, it would appear that the lack of the above would make purchasing a QCC kayak more difficult, but trust me, it doesnít. Further, by not having dealers, showrooms, reps. and advertising costs, you and I save money. Not bad! But wait, thereís more, by dealing directly with the builder, you gain the privilege of having a boat built just for you (itís a custom boat) and you get to work directly with the owners... pretty cool, I dig it!
We already know from reading these reviews, that their boats are fast, ride waves great, well built, custom, a good value and will carry the world, so I wonít take up too much of your time writing about that. But please know, I love boats; before finding QCC, I bought seven boats in three years. Ever the hopeless optimist, I still go to the Charleston Kayak Festival looking for a boat that does everything as good or better that my 700... I still own my 700 and Iíve been to the Charleston Kayak Festival every year for the past four years. I hope you get the point. Good for QCC.
My story is about their customer satisfaction. Here goes.
There are now seven QCCís in the club I belong and currently one of our members is ordering a boat. That member actually got John Winters (QCCís designer and famous Naval Architect) to respond to his questions, unbelievable (think Tiger Woods responding to your email questions). My 700 is a Carbon/Kevlar ruddered boat. AT NO COST, QCC raised my rudder position and moved the forward bulkhead back making additional room for kayak camping. Over time (the boat is almost four years old) and many saltwater outings, the stainLESS on my QCC started to rust; they sent me two new sets from a different supplier. No questions asked. One member has their old skeg design; they sent him their new design changes. It is important to note that this member bought his QCC USED from another member of our club. One member bought a 700. When it arrived, the foot peg tracks were too far back. QCC said "No sweat" and started building him another 700. He changed his mind and asked for a 500. They built him a 500. The entire time his 500 was being built, QCC allowed him to keep the first 700. When his 500 was delivered, QCC paid to ship his first 700 back to their factory (Iím not making this up!). Another buddy traded a one year old Explorer for a one year old 700 (he canít get the smile off his face now). The hull was delaminated slightly. Remember, he bought a USED QCC. QCC said "No sweat" and is fixing the boat my buddy didnít even buy from QCC. It was a USED boat!
My Carbon/Kevlar 700 cracked behind the seat on both sides, just above the seam. I kayak camp a lot. I carry over 100 pounds of gear on some expeditions. The fully loaded boat is moved from the shore to the water by one man lifting the boat from the bow and one man lifting from the stern. That is a lot of stress on a boat. As I stated, my boat will be four years old in July of í08. QCC said "No sweat" and they are fixing my boat, unbelievable!
I have never worked with a retailer who took such good care of their customers. QCC truly does care and they are proud of the work they do and their boats! Itís been my experience that many talk the talk, but when a problem occurs, their only question usually has been to ask me if my check to them cleared.
These stories tell the tale; QCC never toots their own horn. Few people even know about their "above and beyond" customer service. So Iím tooting! I feel somebody has to talk about their outstanding service!
I consider myself to be the ďAverage JoeĒ, that what is happening to me is also happening to you. If QCC is good to me and my buddies, they will be equally good to you and yoursí! I believe that.
Thank you QCC for my wonderful boat and your awesome service. It truly is unbelievable.
Started researching the internet for new boats and found a little company right here in Wisconsin about 100 miles from our home: QCC. We had a lot of trouble with Dagger's customer service with a few issues this spring, so I thought it would really be good to buy from a local company. It turns out, however, QCC's customer service, quality craftsmanship, and design are hands down the best in the industry. Just go to their site, Google -> QCC kayak. Or just continue reading the reviews on this site on the QCC boats and see if you don't agree.
We're both in our 50's and I've had shoulder surgery 3 times, so when we go on group outings to the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior and other places I thought it would be to our advantage to have fast, easy to paddle boats so we can keep up with the group and not have to bust our humps. The Q700X is a freakin knife through butter. We can travel at a much better pace with half the energy exerted. The glide on these boats is awesome. Edging was hard with the Daggers, but not with the 700. Tracks well, and in rough seas the rudder system is bar none the best. It also has solid pegs to lean on while paddling. Other cool thing about the rudder system is that when it is deployed, the entire system is flush with the deck, so tow ropes won't get hung up if needed in a rescue situation.
Needless to say it was a little scary to order boats on the internet, so we went to the QCC factory and met Phill and Steve. Super nice guys. No sales pitch, no pressure to buy. If you see the boat and touch the boat it screams quality. We loaded a couple 700's up in our trailer for a test paddle about a mile away at a small local lake. We paddled around for about an hour, came back and wrote a check. The test paddle was kind of a waste of time. We were sold before we even had the boats in our trailer.
For me, this kayak represents American engineering and craftsmanship at its best. Really smooth, efficient, fast sea kayak, even when loaded with gear. This kayak is like a Suburban (in terms of storage capacity) that handles like a Porsche! And at the same time it is very stable for its 21" width (though for the first few seconds it did feel tipsy, but that feeling quickly went away). With my weight (190 lbs) in it and 3' plus waves it was really stiff, in fact I haven't felt it flex yet. And what a great surfer!
Wherever I take it people stop and eventually ask me how much does it weigh and at 45 lbs (digital scale), including the rudder and thigh braces, it is comfortably light. Of course, they never quite look like they believe me until I lift it and carry it on my shoulder with one hand! QCC lists the weight for the 700X in carbon/kevlar at 44 lbs "without the rudder and thigh braces" (the rudder assembly alone weights 14 oz), so their listed weight are right on.
I am 6' tall and the kayak fits me perfectly. Beautiful design, perfect gel coat, the inside is clean, they really put the time into doing it right. Also, the inside carbon cloth is so "dry" you would think it was vacuum molded.
SEAT: The seat is durable, has a high density foam seat cushion and back band, and is comfortable "for me" (have been on a number of 6-8 mile paddles). Would be nice to have a seat that could be adjusted back and forward maybe 6", however, the seat placement is perfect for me.
RUDDER: The SmartTrack rudder system is great though I wish the foot braces had a bigger contact patch for my size 12 feet. The rudder cable lines exit through the taped seam joint, I coated the junction where the rudder cable exits the seam tape with clear epoxy to reinforce the thin edge of the seam tape in that area.
HATCHES: The hatch covers fit so tight that I can hear the air escaping from the bulkhead hole! I am using silicone spray to lubricate them for easy on/off. Have not rolled it but have surfed a lot and been in big crashing waves, the hatches stayed virtually dry. The reason I say virtually dry is because they are dry until you open them. When you open the hatch cover you will always get ~1/2 oz of water inside the hatch, after being in waves, because the hatch seal is recessed below the deck and so a small volume of water can sit on top of the gasket and not drain out easily. Also, because of the new hatch seal design (not shown on their web site) the hatch cover is an integral/structural part of the deck. Note: the hatch cover buckles have raised manufacturer letters on the bottom side that will scratch the gel coat over time, I used contact cement to glue on some neoprene to cover the letters-could also use a piece of bicycle inner tube rubber.
THIGH BRACES: If you will be out on rough seas, in wind/waves, you will want the thigh braces for added control.
On my last overnight trip I was paddling the loaded kayak at low tide over sand bars/flats in water that was so shallow the sit-on-top kayakers had to get out and pull their kayaks, while I just paddled on by!
I've paddled this boat in Lake Erie, Superior and Huron, including a 5 day trip in Georgian Bay... Kilarny. There has been a great deal said regarding the speed and handling of this boat, I have not been disappointed. I've not paddled with anyone that I could not easily keep up with. I paddle mostly on the Detroit River and have averaged 5mph, gps verified of course, over a 20 mile circumnavigation of Grosse Isle. (an island in the middle of the river with over a 1knot current).
Primary stability on this boat is weaker than my old Perception Eclipse, secondary is awesome stiffening up nicely as you lean her. I learned to roll in this boat, and was successful on my first un-assisted try. This boat tracks ok. On long runs with quartering winds above 6 knot I employ some rudder to conserve energy.
When you load this boat, primary stability increases substantially and so does secondary. I am not an experienced camper, and I get away with murder packing this boat.
My front hatch leaks a little when rolling, my only negative.
I've had my boat for three years. The only disadvantage to buying one, is that every person that sees it wants to talk about how beautiful it is. I have paddled many different boats and I think this is the best handling boat I have tried. Initial stability is there, but it is always a little rocking movement, secondary is unbelievable, without a brace you can bury the coaming underwater. With a good brace it is real easy to put your ears in the water and recover. Likewise this boat rolls almost by itself. This past weekend I was showing a novice braces and hipsnaps, I haven't even tried to roll in a year, over I went and on the first attempt to roll I shot out of the water.
I camp for a week at a time so this boat really gets loaded, water, food, plus all the goodies you want, and it is even more stabile. Speed is unbelievable, I also have a CD Extreme, the 700 is fast. Once up to my cruising speed it just stays there with no effort.
I have the SmartTrac rudder, it has been deployed only on rare occasions, quartering winds. It goes straight but put on edge it spins in turns. Not whitewater quick but very impressive.
Fit and finish put to shame other boats that are more expensive. It is comfortable out of the cardboard, say that about ANY other kayak. I only add thigh braces and adjusted the thigh hook area to make it fit my style and penchant for long days.
Why only a 9? When doing rolling sessions the front and rear hatches allow a cup or two of water to enter.
Even with the drop down skeg you will have plenty of room in the rear (note that a size 10-11 pair of hiking boots will fit perfectly astride the skeg box)...and speaking of the skeg, not your typical VCP or Nigel Dennis or Foster skeg but a Seal Line Foil blade which will take you several outings in differing conditions to master the subtle nuances of settings possible and desired for each particular condition (for example, just dropping the skeg a wee bit will give you excellent tracking and a degree of turning ability)...and while on tracking I noted that this kayak needs the skeg to track true.
I was under the impression from so many other reviews on the QCC700 that it would track like a train without rudder or skeg, not so in my case but like the double edge sword the gain is the ability for an 18foot long kayak to turn well when leaned...Compared to the Necky Looksha II, the QCC700 does not require either to track true but the Looksha II is uncontrollable without a rudder while the QCC needs only corrective strokes.
Seat comfort after 4 days was a wonderful surprise. I've logged hundreds of miles in a Nordkapp Jubilee and know the pain of British seating, I think most will be surprised by the comfort allowed by the Rapid Pulse seat. I liked it so much I have requested Unicorn Kayaks to use one in an English Kayak they are building for me. Along with the seats you will find the foot braces (another Seal Line product used by QCC) to be top notch...I first encountered Seal Line products with their rudder system used in the Looksha II and regard their products are second to none, innovative, but costly.
Speed? my first day out was a 17 mile day and I averaged 4.5mph (GPS confirmed of course)..sad but the QCC was loaded with almost 70 pounds of gear with a large percentage of that being water/Gatorade.
Cockpit length- nicer than the Nordkapp, far better than the Arctic Hawk Pro, and slightly better than the Looksha II- for my 6'1" height.
Stability- primary and secondary both excellent, with the hull shape QCC could even take an inch off the width.
Complaints: QCC should follow Lincoln Canoe and Kayak's lead and offer an emergency hatch option. Also, the release toggle for the drop down skeg is placed on the side of my QCC and when you lean into a turn the toggle will 'gurgle' as it cruises through the water...not a big deal but it is drag and a noise youíre not expecting.
When I purhased my particular QCC700 it was advertised as having a recessed compass. The boat I recieved did not have a compass recess. One e-mail and 4 days later an impecable forward hatch arrived not only with recess but with compass beautifully mounted. I brought the hatch into the hospital to show co-workers the workmanship of QCC-all were impressed. I've dealt with many dealers over the years obtaining kayaks. QCC truly is simple to deal with if only because they provide an excellent product and in a timely fashion.
Boat was advertised on the Demo page at QCC as having a compass recess. The boat I received did not have this recess. An e-mail to Mr. PHill garnered there promise that a forward hatch with recess is on the way.
Paddling experience: almost 20 years of sea kayaking in various conditions. I'm an intermediate paddler with a small fleet of kayaks I'm collecting to one day give my children.
Boats owned and instant comparisons to this kayak:
Necky Looksha II=less stable, wont track true
Nordkapp Jubilee=harder to pack, not as fast
Wilderness Systems Arctic Hawk Pro=harder to pack but just as fast
Aquaterra Sea Lion (kevlar)=vastly slower but other than that some interesting similarities
Paddler physical parameters= I'm 6'1" and weigh 188 pounds
I've got almost 50 miles on a new to me (bought a demo'ed) QCC700, 36 miles of which were paddled this past week on a 4 day adventure on Fontana Lake (forms the belly of Great Smoky Mountain National Park)...living out of this kayak for 4 days has given me an appreciation of this kayak, a glimpse at its strengths and weaknesses (which are few).
For paddle camping and long sojourns you will love the cavernous compartments fore and aft, the beautifully fitted (though not 100% waterproof) hatch covers. Even with the drop down skeg you will have plenty of room in the rear (note that a size 10-11 pair of hiking boots will fit perfectly astride the skeg box)...and speaking of the skeg, not your typical VCP, Nigel Dennis or Foster skeg but a Sealline Foil blade which will take you several outings in differing conditions to master the subtle nuances and settings possible and desired for each particular condition (for example, just dropping the skeg a wee bit will give you excellent tracking and a degree of turning ability with full deployment train like tracking)...and while on tracking I noted that this kayak needs the skeg to track true.
I was under the impression from so many other reviews on the QCC700 that it would track like said train without rudder or skeg, not so in my case but like the double edge sword the gain is the ability for an 18foot long kayak to turn easily when leaned...Compared to the Necky Looksha II, the QCC700 does not require either to track true but the Looksha II is uncontrollable without a rudder while the QCC needs only corrective strokes.
Seat comfort- after 4 days the seat was deemed a wonderful surprise. I've logged hundreds of miles in a Nordkapp Jubilee and know the pain of British seating, I think most will be surprised by the comfort allowed by the Rapid Pulse seat, not only on the buttocks but also in the lower back. I liked it so much I have requested Unicorn Kayaks to use one in an English Kayak they are building for me. Along with the seats you will find the foot braces (another Seal Line product used by QCC) to be top notch...
The build quality is indeed good, though mine was delivered with some blemishes in the gel coat. (Steve offered to build a new one but there wasn't time to do so before the agreed upon delivery).
It also seems to perform well, though I think not as exceptional as they would have you believe.
I'm displeased with the skeg control which allows the skeg to drop if the rope is inadvertently knocked from the jam-cleat.
I was told that the hatch-seal design was unique to my boat (a 3/4" rubber band which nests vertically between the cover and hull), and I see that they are no longer using it. It's not unusual to have up to a quart of water in the rear compartment after rolling or hard leans.
My biggest complaint though is about their customer service, rather than the boat. It became immediately apparent after placing the order that I was no longer a priority to them, and I've found it difficult to even get a response (email) ever since!
I'm 59 years old, and the Q700X has never felt unstable or tricky. On flat water it can zip along at well over 6 mph for an hour or more. I recently raced mine in a 30-mile downriver race on the Eel River and it was the first kayak to finish, just minutes behind many of the surf skis (and beat a few). Felt secure at all times. I don't know if it's as fast as the highly-touted Epic 18, but I'd like to find out.
Build quality seems great, and Phil responded immediately to questions and a minor issue with a rudder cable. I have a number of kayaks that I use for various situations, but for speed the Q700X is the pick.
Sealine Rudder system initially very good providing a solid peg to use legs for power, as the miles piled on I bent 3 sets of plastic tracks for the rudder system which Sealine replaced at no extra cost, last replacement was for new Aluminum tracks designed for my type of use which is mostly racing. Cavernous hatches. Original seating was very comfortable, but not supportive enough for racing so I changed it to an NSI anatomical backband and rubber pad glue to the seat pan, much better now.
The boat is very good and manageable going into the wind with a chop, seems to thrive on that. Surfs very well, too well as I learned on a race where I was getting 100 yard surf runs with it until paddler error ended my outing. I have used the boat in about a dozen races now and paddled about 1500 miles in it now and am very satisfied with the boat.
A 10 would require that the boat have a better seating arrangement from factory and that the rudder track problems had not occurred, other than that, no complaints.
In sum, I'm puzzled why this kayak gets such adulation. It seems like it is structurally sound and it certainly has the dimensions of a fast boat. But it is not a perfect "10" by any means.
The boat travelled by truck from Wis. to Florida in less than 48 hours. It arrived undamaged and as described; long, slender and beautiful. The 700 now has a new hatch gasket that is a flat rubber strip surrounging the hatch combing, gone are the pedestal gaskets that seemed to be reported as leaking small amounts of water on rolls. Gone also are the velcro hatch stap fasteners, now replaced with plastic clips. I suspect the folks at QCC are listening to their customers and improving areas that reported less than perfect.
I am a middle age paddler weighing 170 lbs and not in the best shape. I have been paddling regularly for the last 4 years. This is my 5th boat purchased and the 4th in my fleet. Each with a different purpose depending the type of water I am on and type of trip. I was very comfortable in my 23" wide and had some concern about stability in the 700 at 21".
I am very impressed with the primary and secondary stability. Balance is comfortable. The seat is comfortable as well and I really like the foot rest adjustments on the SmartTrack rudder. Adjustments can be made while on the water very easily.
The 700 is long. It is longer than my car. When I unloaded it alone the first time from my roof rack, I was concerned about balance. I lifted it at the cockpit and to my great surprise neither bow or stern dipped to the ground. I was impressed that I could load and unload it easily by myself.
As I paddle it over the coming months, I will develop a sense of what the boat does on the water and will add to my assessment in an effort to assist others in making a decision on what is the best boat for them. So far, I am very impressed.
The 700 handles rough water well although Iíve only had it in about 3 footers in the Long Island Sound. It rolls like a dream. It handles all the standard rescues well too except the Cowboy re-entry, something I could do with my Eclipse but not with my 700, itís just too tippy. It handles wind great too. You would think with the higher volume and length it would weathercock but the long water line keeps it straight in the water.
Construction is very good and itís appearance is stunning. The strength of the gelcoat and layup is fantastic. I got slammed down hard in a rock garden one evening while taking a night paddle. There was no damage at all to my surprise, and delight.
The deck rigging is very good. The hatch design is mixed. The hatches work and look great but my front hatch does leak. Tightening up the hatch straps makes the leaking almost nonexistent. Another nice touch was I ordered the compass which came mounted in the front hatch and they sent me a second blank hatch. Now when I donít need the compass I can simply swap hatches.
Ok thereís got to be some negatives. There always are. The seat pad and back-band that came with the boat are crap and QCC should be ashamed of themselves for it. Itís kinda like buying a Porsche with $19 Pep Boy tires on it. I yanked it out the first day. The molded seat itself is ok. I also had some minor gel coat cracking that I made Phil aware of and emailed pictures to QCC but never heard back from them, although I realized a month later I emailed the pics to Steve by mistake. I had discussed the problem with Phil so Steve might have just been confused when he got my email. A follow up call is something I should have received either way.
Well thatís about it for now. The boat is all itís made out to be and then some. I cannot think of any other purchase Iíve made that I have been as happy with, except maybe my Kokatat dry suit. Gotta paddle in the winter.
The outer layup is flawless. The deck bungies and lines are a bit thicker than those I've seen on other boats. The deck hardware is first rate. The hatches are flush, look very pretty (esp the one with the built in compass!), and will leak like a sieve when rolling. Despite two gaskets and a fairly deep recess, a whole BUNCH of water seems to find its way in, no matter how tight I get the straps. They do not do day hatches (ouch!).
The inner layup is a bit rough. Not a boat you would want to paddle barefoot. The inner seam is not glassed like I have seen on other boats, but I have no doubts as to the seams durability (and I believe qcc will replace the boat should it fail). There are one or two screw tips from the deck hardware that could concievably catch drybags. The bulkheads are translucent, which conveniently lets light into the compartments, but still seem to be robust - more on those later. The seatpan is very comfortable - so much so that I am considering replacing the rapidpulse seatpad/backband combo with a backband only. The seat is too close to the rear coming to do good laybacks. A high wasted pfd (I wear a misfit) will cause serious discomfort when doing numerous rolls, as the back coming digs into my back.
The keyhole cockpit is big enough to get into butt first. I recommend the "thigh braces", which are merely a different cockpit coming with flanges. They do not provide much "hook" though, and I will need to pad mine out. The footpegs are not very good, as they have a rounded and ribbed face which hurts the balls of my feet after a short time.
The skeg is rope operated, spring loaded and is controlled by feeding the end of the rope through a jam cleat on the side of the boat. While the cleat is convieniently located, I do not care for this type of controll and would prefer a solid rod slider system. I have had the skeg deploy on numerous occasions when the toggle slipped out of the cleat - not very good when involved in rolling practice. The skeg also jams faily easily - not a good thing, as this boat is heavily skeg dependent in wind (though much less so in "windless waves".) The skeg box also leaks through the pivot point where the rod holds the blade to the box - small amount of silicone caulk on a semi regular basis is mandatory.
Paddling the boat is a blast. It really is "all that" in terms of speed, handling, and tracking vs turning. It is amazingly stable for a 21" beam. I can enter the cockpit butt first in waste high water, pulling one leg at a time into the cockpit. I have even done this in small waves. Turning is very good, considering the length - but you will need to commit to a strong lean. The 700 loves following seas, and will reward you with some nice rides, as long as you stay awake and handle correctional strokes proactively. Even aft quartering seas do not cause this boat to behave badly. I have had waves dump on my head during an exposed crossing, and did not get the least bit unbalanced. Confidence inspiring predictability in hairy conditions.
It is sooo easy to roll. I have even done norsaq rolls (to the disgust of greenlanders everywhere!)
In high winds the skeg is a must. It is the same blade as is used on qcc rudders, and extends very deep under the hull. At first I was puzzled by this design, but have become a convert to the idea. The reason being, that in ferocious wind, and with a load, the boat will weathercock slightly (and this is PROPPER), trimming the skeg to about 1/4 deep will put the hull on a dead ass straight course. Lowering the skeg fully will cause the boat to leecock quickly. Due to the amount of freeboard, coupled with the plumb bow, a working skeg is a must in strong winds. I have been in a storm when the skeg, unbeknownst to me, slipped out of the cleat and became fully depoloyed, and I almost took the express out to the open sea. When cresting a wave in high winds, the bow will get pushed around quite a bit, as it is a very large surface area for the wind to grab.
The bulkheads are too far forward and aft, wasting storage space, and increasing the difficulty in draining the cockpit (as many gallons of water will stay behind the cockpit when the boat is inverted and tipped. Despite speaking personally to phil about the placement of the bulkheads when I placed my order (esp for a footpump), they were not installed to the agreed upon measurements.
One of the most controversial aspects of the boat, is the decision by qcc to move the cockpit (and hence the center of gravity and turning point) back almost 8" from the original design. This causes several concerns. The first is the boat will leecock a bit without some weight in the bow. Another is that wide bladed paddles may not fit under the back deck bungies. I plan on moving my seat forward a couple inches in order to rectify the leecocking and the back bashing while rolling.
QCC is known for having "legendary service", most likely because most other kayaks have almost no service after the sale. While Phil and Steve are indeed very pleasent to deal with, and will continue to be pleasent after the deal, with extra help, they did NOT respond to any of my half a dozen emails. I find this strange and dissappointing, esp as they are a 'net only business.
Final conclusion - the most innovative and well thought out hull on the market. Top rate materials and rigorous attention to quality. Questionable ability with mechanical parts (skeg - and I'm told that the rudders will drag when up to speed.) Lack of follow through with customer specs (front bulkhead), poor placement of rear bulkhead (hard to dump h2o out of cockpit). And the best damn warranty in the business. The bottom line is that I WILL NOT return the boat, as it is too close to being the ideal kayak for my purposes. Oh yeah - and I saved a lot of $. Definitely not the most important aspect, but important none the less.
Order yours with the bulkheads and seatpan uninstalled, ask the guys if they will cut you a deal for not including the seatpad/backband and footpegs, and you should end a boat in the 99th percentile - wish someone would have told me that!
Good Points: The paddle park groove is fantastic for climbing in and out in shallow water while the boat is still floating. The thigh pads are strong and comfortable. I am big, but getting into this boat is easy when you can brace the end of the paddle on the bottom and slip one leg at a time into the boat. The seat inside is almost as wide as the deck braces (17") The cockpit is 16" wide and 30" long in a keyhole pattern. I put in an NSI whitewater backband with ratchet adjusters. The NSI ratchetting back band adjusts easily in the boat to give me support when I paddle and it releases easily to the back of the cockpit to make getting out easy as well. Very comfortable with the stock seat pan.
The Sealine rudder has one rope to release to drop it down or pull it up. The footpegs are solid with pedals on top that control the rudder. The foot pegs have a notched plastic adjuster stick that can be used to move the pegs while you sit in the boat. The hull is 21" wide shallow V with canoe ends and a Swede form. Very stable with a long waterline. It is easy to paddle and responds well to a lean. The 700 is just beautiful to look at. When people see it on top of the car, they just stare at it.
Bad Points: The rudder fitting drags in the water when you get it up to speed. Other boats with rudders do this also. The boat trims a little low in the stern, especially at speed. Again, all narrow hulls do this as they move faster. I moved my seat forward a little to better trim the boat.
In summary, the 700 is comfortable to sit in and it feels safe to paddle in waves. It doesn't look bad either!
Customer Service: QCC Kayaks has the best customer service and support I've ever experienced. Steve and Phil are a delight to work with. More specifically, Roadway damaged my Q700 during shipping. (What cretin dockworker would stand a 20ft. box on its end in the terminal when the box clearly states fragile, this side up, do not stack, kayak? DUH!) QCC's immediate response is to, build me a replacement Q700, encourage me to use the damaged 700 until the new one arrives, and take care of dealing with Roadway and the shipping costs. WOW.
Fit and Finish: Superb, as in, no flaws. Extra touches like recessed VKV deck fittings and a molded paddle park aft of the cockpit are great. Inside, no drips, runs, or sags The boat is eye-candy. It's just fun to look at!
Performance: This is not a boat for a novice paddler, but for perspective, I'm just finishing my second season of paddling and really love the way the 700 handles. I had no trouble paddling it to 6.5mph...it's got tremendous glide and turns very quickly with minor lean. The 700 is very comfortable and the Rapid Pulse touring seat is just excellent. It's very sensitive and responsive to paddler input which very quickly creates the feel that the 700 is an extension of yourself. As sensitive as it is, it's completely predictable, too. For those of you who roadbike, think high end Tomassini, Bianchi, etc.
Summary: I feel like I'm just sitting in and paddling other boats. I feel like I'm wearing the Q700XL. This is one fun ride and the quality is high end all the way. It will truly put a smile on your face.
Second, others had some better features here and there, but overall, none was better, either in terms of overall performance or of workmanship, to the Q700X.
Third, key models I demoed carefully were the Necky Looksha II (slower, bad seat, no gear room, and cannot track at all, without a rudder), the Necky Looksha IV series (not nearly as good as the new Necky Elaho; also, expensive), the Nigel Foster Legend and Shadow (great kayaks, especially the Legend, but a bit less secondary stability, slower, and less touring gear room), Current Designs' Extreme, Soliste series, and Gulfstream (great kayaks, but slower and less maneuverable; however, nicely finished), Seaward Chilco (great kayak, but a bit slower, less maneuverable and less room for gear, but tracks better at speed; many named here track very well), Necky Elaho (really great shorter kayak -- better than the Looksha IV series -- but much slower than Q700X; also very expensive), Eddyline Falcon 18 (slower, less initial and secondary stability, less room, but pretty good back support in seat), the KayakSport Vivian (great kayak, well made, stable, a bit slow, but tracks well and pretty maneuverable. Seat needs improvement), KayakSport Viking (great smaller kayak, super fast for its shorter length, but seat needs improvement) and many others.
It is surprising how many bad kayaks there are -- kayaks that have little speed, low efficiency, are unduly tipsy, bad seats, poor turning, etc.) Many had bad hatch cover arrangements and obvious hatch problems.
The Q700X was the best-crafted kayak of all I saw and a very good buy at the price, relative to all I saw and paddled. The real competition for the Q700X, in my mind, are the following: the Epic Touring Endurance 18' (was not there and I have not tried, but is made by a new company probably without much experience with composites), the KayakSport Vivian, the Seaward Chilco, the Nigel Foster Legend and the Current Designs' Extreme. Also, I think you pay more and get less with many other brands than QCC and the Nigel Foster Legend.
My next efforts with the Q700X are to improve the back support and seat (which as kayak seats go, is already pretty good), and then to rig a detachable forward bow weight for the inside far forward end of the forward hatch), for better balance and tracking at speed, when I don't haul gear and carry only my own 190 pound weight.
The appearance and some other qualities of the Q700X are deceptive. In close quarters, it looks humongous. Sitting in it on the water, it does not look so big. Standing over it, it looks very wide at midship. Measured there, it is not so at all. The cockpit, with the built in thigh braces looks huge, but in fact measures only 30" x 16", with 11.5" maximum inside center depth and 9" inside center depth at the rear. The Q700X cockpit seems much smaller than the Catalina cockpit at 32" x18" and 11 1/2" and 9 1/4." Yet I can easily get in and out of the Q700X one leg at a time; not, or seldom so with the Catalina. Also, the Q700X does not look like it has the volume to carry the displacement weight it can, except in close quarters, but it does. The Q700X's lines make it not particularly a beauty queen, in my eyes, but it is absolutely beautifully made and finished. It looks somewhat like a spanking new Suburban, but it goes like a Ferrari. For short sprints on flat water, I can get it up to speeds where the noise from the bow and stern wakes is very and surprisingly loud. I regularly pass bass fishing boats under power saundering out to their fishing locations.
The Q700X has great glide. With strong strokes spaced very intermittently, using that glide, you can go a long distance with relatively little effort. The Q700X is very efficient. When I am focused on paddling the boat, I do not seem like I am going that fast, except for the very audible wake, but when I look up at what I am passing by, I am flying. It can haul a serious touring load, but without a load, moves like a racer. It tracks very well under significant load, but less so without such load. At speed, and without load, good paddling and balance techniques are needed to keep it on course (I have no skeg or rudder to break or slow me down), if you are well under its minimum displacement weight of 210 pounds, not including the boat's weight. Maximum displacement, not including boat weight, is 305 pounds. Nearing displacement weight of 275 pounds, it tracks very, very well. I used a plastic wrapped case of bottled water in the bow hatch to check this out. With just my 190 pounds, the buoyancy of the bow causes it to enter the water just under the curvature going into the bottom line, although it rests more fully in the water at the stern.
One consequence of my 190 pound only weight is superior turning, however. At less than full displacement weight, and with the bow to stern rocker the kayak has and the bow slightly up, it turns much more easily than my narrow 15' 3'' Catalina, but less so with more displacement weight aboard. Speed is also aided by reduced surface area under water and lower flow resistance, with less displacement. With the lighter 190 displacement, handling is more skiddish at speed in calm water, but predictably and controllably so. An intermediate paddling-level friend, in one of our Catalinas, had a hard time keeping up with me, while I was using a low paddle stroke rate, and the Catalina is not at all slow. The Q700X did extremely well in the chop I was in and presents no need for bracing. Its near round bottom, its directional stability from its speed, and its length makes it very stable and comfortable in rougher waters, and very surprisingly so. It is actually less skittish, at less than displacement weight, in significant chop than in flat water pushing the speed. While it is not an optimal fishing platform, I am sure I could cast and troll from it quite happily for catches of reason weight.
I had QCC secure the hatches with cam buckles and Velcro to hold the strap tails down. It adds a bit of weight, but is worth it. The hatch covers are on very securely. My Q700X's weight in Kevlar/carbon came in at 51 pounds, but that is lighter in fact than each of my Catalinas which are supposed to weigh 48 pounds each. The cam buckles added a bit of weight. Also, I think my layup is a tad heavier. The weight is not a problem for me. The Q700X cartops well and looks good without noteworthy overhands on large automotive sedans.
The seat . . well, lets start by saying kayak seats are not lazyboy recliners. Also, they are very personal matters. The biggest problem I have with the Q700'Xs seat is that it creaks audibly when I rotate while paddling. As kayak seats go, it is comfortable enough, but as with all kayak seats, in my view, this one requires outfitting and tinkering to optimize it for me. That I have not undertaken this adventure yet is a testament to how good the seat is, as it comes from the factory. I have just been paddling the thing and having fun. I had Yakima foot braces put in instead of the factory offered SealLine pedals which have humps on them are intended for use with the SeaLine rudder. I also asked for some additional deck line to create a bow painter which I have done. A painter should be a stock item on all kayaks, in my view.
Factory service was basically good, but you need to keep track of matters. Mine Q700X was shipped almost a month late, but my special requests contributed to that delay somewhat. All in all a great kayak.
Absolutely wonderful design, quality, customer service and support. My 700 is carbon/kevlar and a beautiful red over white. You can count on the QCC folks just as they counted on John Winters for his expertise and design brilliance. I have counted on QCC with two boats and wouldn't hesitate again. I lost a few nights sleep initially worrying about a sight-unseen purchase of this magnitude. Don't worry! You won't be disappointed. GO FAST and ENJOY!
I am 6'2", 225 lbs and athletic so I needed a boat with some room but didn't want to sacrifice performance. As you have just read, this kayak DID IT ALL! I give the boat a "9" because nothing in life is perfect. No I did not find a thing that I can complain about but I do not believe in perfect scores....this is a "perfect" score from me though. If you want a boat that's built well, has starship like performance and won't break your bank account, you have found what you are looking for. A GREAT kayak in the QCC 700XL. By the way, don't be afraid of its size, my wife at 5'2" and 115lbs has no problem making this boat sizzle across the water. She is in it and gone! I need to by another and soon. Also, QCC does not pay me to say any of these comments so be sure it is from "me" and "me" alone.
Happy paddling to all who read this and please feel free to send me a note at any time. It may take a day or two to return your "em" as I am out of town from time to time.
Last weekend I paddled my Q700X to victory in my first kayak race! It was a 15 miler around Jamestown Island in Rhode Island. This was my first time paddling in Narragansett Bay and was surprised at the variety of conditions. We left the beach through 3 foot breakers, rounded the first rocky corner in confused swells then headed North for 6 miles into a solid knot of adverse current mixed with lots of power boat wake. The winds were always at the beam requiring constant corrective steering, but no rudder. Needless to say, no records were set that day. However, the Q700X performed flawlessly in all conditions. Despite this being only my second season of paddling and competing against many veterans including some locals, I managed to beat my nearest competitor by about five minutes in the men's division of the composite class. While I implemented a solid strategy to avoid the strongest adverse currents, which others soon followed, I believe my boat was the secret weapon. With its long waterline, narrow beam, and lightweight Kevlar construction, the Q700X was the right tool for the job. With a QCC kayak I can't blame my boat for a poor race, however I'm all too happy to personally take credit for a win!
By the way, the thrill of my victory was shared by another competitor who currently awaits delivery of his Q700X. I'm sure my performance erased any doubts he might have had about ordering a QCC kayak online. So I will have at least one other Q700X to compete with at the next race. While I love to see other paddlers discover the benefits of John Winter's efficient hull design, if word continues to get out and other racers trade in their slow boats for a QCC, I may have to start training harder to remain competitive!
This is a top of the line boat for those who really want high performance and comfort.
I live about 50 miles from the Janesville, Wisconsin factory and bought my boat at the factory. The people at QCC are great and very helpful. Having seen the level of detail in person in the building process and how they ship the boats to customers, I highly recommend you consider a QCC kayak. If you buy one of their boats you will be very pleased with your decision.
QCC markets this boat as an efficient cargo cruiser and I'm sure it excels at that with its huge storage compartments and large hatches, but give me a couple water bottles, 15 miles of open ocean (any condition), about three hours, a QCC 700XL and I'm one happy paddler!
Why not a 10 rating? I don't believe any kayak deserves a 10. Despite what a salesman will tell you, you can't have it all, at least at the levels I expect. Every boat design requires some compromise. In the Q700XL, its speed performance is offset by a reduction in roll stability. If you want a boat with training wheels look elsewhere. Maybe the stability improves when loaded with cargo. If you have some paddling experience or are a quick learner you will enjoy taking this thoroughbred for a ride. Also be aware that there isn't much foot clearance. I'm a US9 and don't have a problem, but an 11 or 12 may not be as comfortable.
Weight: My finished kevlar boat weighed in at around 50lbs. I was told it would be around 46lbs. I did get it with the optional rudder system that I hardly ever use, so maybe this accounts for some extra weight. Still, I have no problem loading it onto the roof of my Saab.
By the way, the rudder is a beautifully shaped NACA section (airfoil) not a square edged plank stamped out of a sheet of aluminum. I've never seen another kayak with NACA section rudder. Would the average paddler notice the difference? He would if the next airplane he got on had square sectioned wings.
I've been involved in the marine industry for most of my life. This boat has excellent workmanship. The kevlar layup is immaculate. The fittings and rigging are top quality. The seat and foot pedals are the best I've ever experienced. If you have an eye for quality then you will be spoiled by a QCC boat. You can buy a popular brand boat at your favorite dealer, but expect to do a complete refit to get QCC quality components. Many people enjoy tinkering and spending extra money improving their sports equipment. If you do your kayaking in the garage, don't buy a QCC. There is nothing to improve.
Last item: compare prices. The QCC boats are $1000-$2000 less than the composite boats at your local dealer. I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for, but don't let the price fool you. By removing the middlemen, the distribution network, the sales force, the large advertising campaigns, QCC can deliver a higher quality boat for significantly less money. Maybe QCC would sell more boats if they raised their prices.
Bottom line: An exceptional value for a high performance kayak. Somewhat tender stability characteristics when unloaded make it more suitable for the intermediate to advanced paddler. If you are a heavier racer, fitness paddler or even an experienced long distance cruiser without huge feet consider this boat. Lighter paddlers with the same objectives should check out the 600XL. If you are a seal hunter or want to look like one, this is not your boat.
Email me if in S.E. CT, and want to check out my 700XL. I'm not a dealer, just hoping to advance the sport by encouraging enlightened design philosophy, quality craftsmanship and reasonable prices.
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