The 18' Sundowner is a fast, well rounded canoe. I have three now, in both Kevlar and Fiberglass. The hull layups are Cross-Rib in Kevlar, Cross-rib in fiberglass(1980) and Core-stiffened in fiberglass. They all paddle pretty much the same, the small differences in weight and construction have little effect on the performance.
The Sundowner is fast enough to keep pace with any tandem on a trip. It will not beat the Jensen 18 or Minnesota II in a race with even paddlers. It will easily pull away from any royalex hull or plastic canoe. On a trip this means lots less effort when traveling together with plastic hulls or composites from many manufacturers. The glide is the noticeable feature of this hull. Miss a stroke to grab a snack and it keeps going.
It is very seaworthy, takes waves from any direction without losing its composure. No need to turn bow into the wave unless its huge and breaking.
The turning is good, not WW quality, but closer to the Spirit than the Jensen.
Just a well rounded hull.
Portaging was also surprisingly easy. Aside from the extreme length requiring some careful manuevering on wooded portage trails, it carries well. The yoke was mounted at just the right balance point, the canoe carries with the bow just light enough to stay up out of the sightline and easy enough to pull down with one hand for descending trails. At 62# on the scale, it was no worse on my shoulders than a 15' Dagger Reflection in Royalex and its 8' longer with two more seats!
For going fast with a group of 4, this is THE boat. For family camping this is THE boat. For tandem tripping with everything including the kitchen sink, this is THE fast way to go.
For tight Pine Barrens creeks, for rapids without easy chutes, this is not the boat.
Turning was a big surprise, we expected the Escape to turn slower than the shorter Jensen, but it comes about quickly in response to the bow paddlers draws and rudders. Its rounded bottom contour does like well timed strokes from both paddlers, a missed stroke with the other paddler sweeping is really felt as is a missed 'hut'. This hull does not challenge the Spirit II for stability, with well matched strokes it is stable and responds like a sports car, but it does demand the paddlers attention to keeping strokes in sync.
A fast seaworthy hull for paddlers not needing the capacity of the Minnesota II, but wanting the big water capability.