When looking for kayaks we wanted a boat that would track well for lakes and flat water and have enough maneuverability to handle class II/III rivers. The decision came down to the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 or the CD Whistler. We purchased the Whistlers because most things were similar but the Whistler construction and design was nicer. The Whistlers have molded recessed holders for the deck lines. This eliminates the bolts and nuts that extend into the underside of the deck. I liked this because it eliminated getting dry bags caught and ripped not to mention the possibility of snagging clothing on a wet exit. The Whistlers have met these requirements without a problem.
We elected not to add the rudder and so far haven't missed it even though we often paddle on large lakes and have been in some strong cross winds and whitecap waves. A rudder would have been nice in these conditions but a little edging and a sweep stroke keeps it tracking.
The seat is comfortable for even with long paddles of 4 hours or more. The thigh pads aren't adjustable and mine fit just right. I modified them on my wife's by repositioning and drilling new holes in the thigh bracket. CD has since added a different seat back that is more ridged and adjustable. I like the adjustable band system we have because it doesn’t extend above the rear deck (easier to get in and out) and provides support to the lower back (sit up straight). The seat is an important consideration when selecting and test paddling a boat. Make sure it is adjusted for you. The cockpit opening is larger than most touring kayaks so you can pull your knees up and adjust your resting or leisure paddling position. With the skirt on water will puddle a little in it but this has not been an issue.
The top deck bungees are well designed and I like the perimeter grab lines. Not all kayaks in this class have these. They are handy for grabbing another kayak while on the water or holding the kayak after a wet exit. I use the line as a paddle holder when stopped by slipping the blade under it near the bow. The Whistler has a unique rough matt finish over the top of the decks. This grips whatever is under the bungees and gives it a little different look. I do like the height and angle of the front deck especially in front of the cockpit. This provides plenty of leg room and sheds waves nicely. Also the front hatch has a molded cover with 2 tie down straps over the rubber hatch cover, unusual for this class of kayak. This adds additional wave shedding protection and helps to keep the front hatch secure and dry.
I have contacted Current Designs on 2 occasions and their customer service people have been great to work with. One time I requested the specifications for the trim accent tape, a few days later 2 rolls of tape showed up. The second time the rear hatch cover developed a small tear and between our dealer, Quest Outdoors in Louisville KY and CD they replaced it. I also like the thought of working with a smaller "family" type company that excels in kayak design and production.