I enjoyed reading Cliff Jacobson's thoughtful review. I'm not qualified to disagree with Cliff so I'll just share my experiences. I'm a little over six feet with long arms and around 180 and usually have a 55 pound dog so around 250 normal load. I use short straight shaft paddles like a straight Zav and do hit and switch for cruising power and often go for long upstream paddles on rivers with current from 1 to 4 mph. I've owned quite a few solos.
I basically agree with everything positive that Cliff said about the Phoenix. It's super comfy and stable and friendly with capable and predictable handling. Very nice capacity and very dry and safe feeling. The overall performance envelope is extremely similar to a Hemlock SRT in my view. It's versatile and one could argue worth getting just for the IXP lay-up.
I bought a Phoenix hoping it would be a "better Wildfire" for my uses, hopefully more efficient since it is longer with less rocker, while still retaining plenty of maneuverability since a Wildfire could give up some maneuverability and still turn on a dime.
I tend to push my boats and I think one can push a Phoenix faster than a Wildfire in a sprint. But it takes about ten times more muscle and you could not maintain it. Those full ends that make it buoyant in waves also push back on you if you drive the boat harder. If you drive a Wildfire really hard you eventually run out of rpm (but it's still easy) but if you drive a Phoenix really hard it will burn you up. My composite Yellowstone is for sure a notch more efficient for upstream paddling than a Wildfire or Phoenix. Phoenix would not be my choice for paddling with others in tandems.
I had a similar discussion with Dave Curtis about the SRT. He was saying that it would basically perform "mid pack" with other solos at normal cruise speeds of 3-4 mph and I said I think he's spot on at 3 mph but that 4 mph is a different story and after some more good discussion he agreed. I had a similar feeling for the Curtis Dragonfly.
For downriver paddling the Phoenix and SRT could be two of the best available and both are incredibly versatile too. They are also great fun to just play around with on quiet water. I sold my Phoenix and my SRT because for upstream and flatwater paddling I'd rather take out something else.
Although I really like the SRT and respect it, I'd personally go for a Swift Shearwater as a large capacity versatile solo canoe...or a Wildfire if I was leaning towards mostly river use.
For its intended use...downriver tripping with big loads, I'd guess that the SRT cannot be beat.