I finally was able to get away and try it out. Conditions were: wind 10-15MPH, waves 1-2 feet. The boat did not weather cock at all. It tracks dead straight with a nice glide. Turning is not a strong point. Some lean is necessary and turns are slow. The boat rolls quickly with little effort. What little water came over the bow was quickly shed, the recessed hatches did not spray any upward.
Stability would not be a strong point for a beginner, being slightly tippy All in all a really fine kayak. I am 71 (older than the water I paddled on), 6Ft;, 175lbs., and have paddled for 45 years.
I am happy to report that it isn't that tippy at all. Comparable to a Looksha 4. The only time it feels tippy at all is when I am looking down fiddling with gear. Secondary stability is nice. As for turning, it is very responsive to edging and corrections... but is a bit slow to come around beyond 90 degrees. Everything is a trade-off and with the XP that trade is for speed. I love the speed. It catches and surfs swells and waves very easily. Once on a wave, it does not tend to broach nearly so quickly as most boats.
Construction is OK. Construction is very solid and strong. Fit and finish is a little rough. Exterior looks great, but taped seams on the interior get a little rough in the hard to reach ends. The weight is on the heavy end for FG, but not unreasonable. Hatches are bomber, but I did get a little leaking into my day-hatch. A little Marine Goo fixed that right away. It was leaking where the hatch ring is sealed to the FG deck. The seat and backband is very basic, but makes a good platform for attaching minicell foam for a custom fit. The skeg is smooth. I have never mounted the rudder, no real need for it anyway.
If you want to go fast from point A to B, this is a great boat.
The boat I paddled was the XP in Carbon/Kevlar. It was light! In the low 40s according to the specs. The boat was easy for me (rather average size female) to solo carry. Despite the light weight it feels really very solid. And it’s a real touring boat with bulkheads and day hatch included. It could easily carry a couple weeks of gear although the smaller than normal day hatch opening would make packing a bit more difficult. It comes equipped with a skeg or a skeg/rudder combination. The boat I used had the skeg only and it was the smoothest skeg I’ve used to date. I could literally make minor adjustments with the tap of a finger as I was ending a forward stroke. The rudder is a “gas pedal” model so you don’t lose the fixed footpegs and is one of the things that would make this a good racer. The back band isn't great, but I've since been told that new boats will have an improved model.
The finish on the boat is impressive. There is an extra layer of carbon/Kevlar cloth on the hull bow and stern. The inside is very smooth. The deck of the XP is awesome. The rear is nice and low making layback rolls a breeze but it’s the front deck that is really interesting. It has cut away sides that enable you to plant your paddle close to the boat during your forward stroke. During a day trip using my wing paddle I didn’t hit the deck once with the paddle (which I do in nearly every other boat at some point). The deck fittings are all recessed and the perimeter lines and bungies are in all the right places.
This boat is made to go forward fast. I haven’t put a GPS to it yet but from feel it feels slightly faster than my Silhouette and the light weight really helps it accelerate quickly. The boat has a shallow V hull and its initial stability is pretty good (at least for me) but it’s the secondary stability that is great. With the hard chine you can really edge the boat and feel rock solid. At 18 feet long it is a bit tough to turn if flat. However, put it on edge, which you can do confidently and it turns very well.
In calm conditions the boat paddled great and didn’t require any special attention. In 20+ knot winds the boat weathercocked a bit but the skeg countered that easily. As the waves built (probably never over 2 feet though) the boat was stable and dry. Turning downwind the boat easily caught and surfed the small wind waves.
Rolling the boat was very easy. Standard C to C and sweeps all brought me up with no problem. Skulling and bracing were also easy. A friend tried his Greenland moves on it and his static brace looked pretty good. After three hours roll practice the front hatch and rear hatch were bone dry but a little water collected in the day hatch.
Size wise, the XP is made for medium to larger paddlers and for me is a little on the deep side. If only they would make a XP LV I’d give it a 10!