First off, I'm pretty new to kayaking, so don't take this as gospel. That said, this boat is awesome. Once in the water, its weight disappears. The deck sheds water awesomely--you can tip the cockpit edge right down to the water, pick some up, and it will shed right around you. Owe this to the whitewater background this boat has. The boat is great for both the fitness paddler and the river geek--put the skeg down and it indeed stays quite straight under even lousy paddling skill, flailing or controlling. Keep the skeg up, and you can choose to discipline your paddling, go straight via the channeling molded into the hull, or spin easy circles and look like a pro who's bored on flat water. Compare this thing to the skegs on other boats: Someone looked at a surfboard (LiquidLogic) and copied the design, and the others looked at a dorsal fin and flipped it over--this one's right. I'm dying to get it in the Pacific, once I move out of the South. The design is dynamic to effectively suit a variety of abilities, and what's better is the fact that you have to really suck hard to get tipped over in this thing. It's very stable in chop and calm, yet somehow easy to roll up if you do tip--check the Liquid Logic website for video on the boat. I researched all the competitors' stuff, and this one came out on top in every way; even the storage compartment (bulkhead, yes) is tops. The external finish is nicer than anyone elses, and the seat creates no problem with your butt after hours of paddling. This one might cost a bit more than the competition, but it's worth every dime--it will grow and go with you, not limit you like the others will over time and diversity of venue.
I did plenty of research and gave this lots of consideration. The Liquid Logic Remix XP line had everything I was looking for. It had to be a kayak that was at home in the rough water as well as being good for athletic touring and work out paddles on the flats. The high quality of the materials and workmanship is really striking. It feels very solid all over. The seating/outfitting is without peer! It is most definitely the most comfortable seating on the planet; you could spend hours in it and not be uncomfortable at all. Conditions were not rough really (darn) with a moderate chop on the river and a north east drift (more east than north), so I was paddling against a cross current.It is very easy to get into and out of this boat; cockpit size is perfect for someone of my size anyway. The XP really does paddle the flats very well. The bow has the right amount of rocker and a set of double channels on the hull that cuts and splits the water nicely. Heading out into the wind and waves it looks a little like you are plowing water owing to the rounded hull (as opposed to the narrow hull of a sea kayak which tends to pierce the waves and then lifts you out and up); this is deceptive as the XP9 really is lifting you nicely over the wave. I found the boat fast for a 9 footer and it can definitely 'get you into the zone' when distance paddling. I put it through it's paces, leaning as hard over as I could to the point of a roll. It's lean is bomber. Very dynamic hull design with nice edges and it produces great stability. I can see that it would be an easy rolling boat. 'Bacsess Hatch”: This is a neat set up on the XP. I sunk my stern quite a bit and tried to get the hatch area as wet as possible. It stayed very dry. It is also very easy to get to underway. Plenty of storage for all-day needs. The drop skeg: The only place where something could go wrong on any kayak because of the moving parts. First, the skeg works very well. It's spring-loaded so it snaps up and down with no problems. Without the skeg you can dial in to the hull dynamics of this boat for straight-aways and get it under control, but it takes concentration (unless you are riding a swell or it is a nasty water state and then the boat is in it's element without the skeg). Skeg down and she tracks better than any rec boat (that's what I'm talking about!). In conclusion, I am very happy with this boat. I can take it to the Nantahala, Taccoa, and Chatuge in Georgia and play with the white water crowd. I can take it out on the Indian and Banana River Lagoons in all sorts of conditions for my work out endurance paddling sessions. I can take it on those same Florida waterways when everyone else is putting ashore because the conditions are rough.