If you want a recreational boat for fishing or paddling around the cottage, this is not the canoe for you. If you are doing flatwater tripping it definitely is. With other canoes, including my beloved Prospector, we were paddling hard to keep up to others. We now paddle at a more moderate pace and now wait for some of the other canoes.
Initial stability is not very firm when not loaded, but this narrower waterline width also gives you speed. Loaded it is just great. Secondary stability either way is great, and the canoe is fine for keeling over solo, though I would not prefer to use it on a long solo trip.
I bought directly from Swift, as there is no dealer in Calgary, and got great service from them. I got the kevlar layup with the integral kevlar gunwhales and cherry trim, with an additional solo seat. I weighed the canoe after I got it, and it is a nice light 40.5 lbs, and is fantastic to carry around. The integral gunwhales did have a bit of a sharper outside edge that I filed down a wee bit to soften the edges, but I see now that they put a thin wooden strip on to alleviate this problem.
BTW, it is extremely rare for me to ever give a 10, so this is near perfect.
I love the seats. They are webbed with thick ash framing. They are curved downward in the front perfect for semi-kneeling (which I like). I also like the one piece ash yoke. I put 2 pieces of ensolite foam on my shoulder tops and the yoke works perfectly for me. I have a curved laminated yoke on my other canoe but I like the contour yoke on the winisk the best.
As far as choosing a canoe goes, take several trips borrowing and renting canoes to find what you like don't listen to anyone else. Pay attention to equipment people are using that are passing you. Ask them for advice.
For me it was the Winisk or a Minnesota II from We-noh-na. The Winisk was $600 cheaper. After 3.5 years I'm still totally happy with this boat. Now I'm looking for a 16 foot boat for more river use. Everybody thinks their boat is a 9 or 10.
I just returned from a trip to Quetico Park in Ontario. We encountered big water on Beaverhouse Lake when we entered and it handled this with no problem. The rest of the group I was with were using ultra-light kevlar Wenonah canoes. The performance and speed of the Winisk was the envy of the rest of the group. The secondary stability was unmatched by the other boats. In fact, one of the other canoes in our group turned over in the high winds, but we remained rock-solid.