Submitted: 09-11-2007 by geojer
I had the 17 ft Perception Eclipse Airlite model. I paddled it for about a year mostly in coastal day trips around Florida bay and Biscayne bay, usually in chop of less than 3 feet and mild (10-15 kt) winds. I'm 6 feet tall and 190 lbs. The cockpit was huge for me and required a lot of foam to make it comfortable for me and give me good contact with the boat.
The boat has very good primary stability and OK secondary stability; it would be a good boat for a beginner. While the boat has a fairly narrow beam it still feels wide, but responds to steering strokes reasonably well. It doesn't turn fast unless it's leaned.
The Eclipse handles reasonably well in low winds and flat water, but starts to weathercock in just 10 kts of wind, enter the rudder.... The rudder seems to have been added as an afterthought. When dropped it barely touches the water and doesn't seem to move the boat very well. The roto version seems to have a different stern and may integrate the rudder more effectively.
I didn't find it a fast boat when trying to escape lightning. The bow has a lot of volume and seems to plow through the water. I've read a lot of positive reviews of this boat so I was surprised by how it handled. The boat has a lot of space and would be good for week trips.
I can't recommend this boat, it's light for it's size in plastic and the airlite is pretty durable and looks good. It might preform better with a heavy load, but I never had more than 50 lbs of gear in it.