I've owned my Carolina for several years now and have never felt any urge or need to replace it. We live near the Adirondack Park and paddle a pretty wide variety of waters. The Carolina is stable, tracks well and moves along pretty efficiently. The other big factor is that I'm 6' 5" tall and the Carolina fits my legs and feet very comfortably - can't be said of too many sit inside kayaks.
I do not have the rudder. I thought about adding one but am concerned it might shorten the foot peg distance giving me less effective legroom. Despite this I haven't found the lack of a rudder to be any real problem. There are times on windy days with waves that I know a rudder would help but I still get by pretty well.
I am very pleased with my choice
I've had the boat for 3 years now and have paddled slow rivers, ponds, small lakes and large ones. My Carolina has handled all very well. The only small drawback is that I wish it had more rocker to better handle waves wind windy conditions, but that's really not a big drawback unless you plan to spend a lot of time on larger lakes.