I have had a Native Manta Ray, Native Ultimate, Native Magic, OK Scupper Pro, Malibu X13, just to name a few of the more popular names. I have been paddling for over 10 years and I am an A.C.A. kayak safety instructor. I kayak to fish and for recreational touring.
The Phoenix is an amazing kayak, lightweight, nimble, tracks very well without a rudder even in windy conditions. The biggest point I would like to stress here is that this kayak is superior to most in the hands of an experienced paddler. It has a soft chine which makes for a lot of drifting sideways if you don't know how to control the characteristics of the boat design. You can glide thru the water effortlessly, stealthy and fast even a 30mph gust (A typical coastal Bend wind gust). I can keep up with my friends in their T-160's without a problem and stay a head of the pack on most trips with several different paddlers in kayaks ranging in size from 16' to 12'.
The bottom, although seemingly not, is very abrasion resistance. I cringed the first time I accidentally paddled unto a patch of oyster shell along the Texas coast only to find out later when I flipped the kayak over to find little to no abrasion marks on the hull. With that being said I don't go looking nor do I careless wander over oyster beds in any shape or form.
I need to say that every kayak I have paddled served a different purpose and some times multiple purposes so choose you kayak wisely and always after doing a demo paddle first. Rent it for a day if possible especially if you intend to make a substantial investment. I also recommend that you haven't had a true kayak lesson, take one, you will amazed at what you will learn. Not only will paddle better with less aches and pains but you can learn to appreciate the different kayak designs put forth by all the kayak companies.
Lastly I am 5'8" 195#s and 60 yrs old. I paddle weekly rain or shine. I paddle with a Werner Kalliste bent shaft due to an arthritic right wrist and I paddle an average of 2-4 hours or more on most paddling trips. Paddle on!!
She is smooth, and glides effortlessly in calm water, now after a few test drives I can tell you she tracks well into the wind & chop as well being caught on the lake with gusts of 5-10mph, she stayed steady on course and did not falter. The famed Malibu Gator Hatch is standard, with a huge rear tankwell that would accommodate a full sized cooler if I chose to carry it.
The most unique feature is the forward storage under the gator hatch which has a scupper hole in the bottom. It fills halfway with water while paddling and empties upon landing. Plug it up and it stays perfectly dry to carry your goodies. Great place to keep some fish wet or maybe even serve as a small livewell or just haul a lot of gear.
This ride is dry, you can watch the footwells get water and then drain out thru the scuppers. I would say that the real life rider limit is around 230# before she might become a little wet. I am 5'8" & 200# and never got wet once.
All in all one of the best kayaks I have ever owned. She is sweet and lime green to boot. I am still very impressed. I am currently riggin her for fishing the Texas bays, I'll let you know how it goes later.