The boat is intended to be a racing creeker and that's what the rating reflects. More casual paddlers can deduct one star because it's not an entirely forgiving boat. If you want a safe haven, go with the Machno. Basically, they took the 9R and tweaked it, taking into account the criticisms of that kayak, along with what they learned in developing the 9R large. The front edges have been softened and a little more volume has been pumped into it, making it a more manageable ride. It's a little less hardcore, so competitive racers may prefer the first generation 9R. It's still fast and boofs well. If you're looking for a fast creeker in the sub-9 category, this should be a finalist in your test drives.