Submitted: 01-06-2005 by lindaday
The reviews can be confusing unless you realize that there are three models of the Performa. I have paddled all three.
The first Performa (probably the one reviewed by "--") fits the description given, with poor secondary stability. However, this boat is no longer manufactured.
The Performa II had a greatly improved hull design, giving it the tracking and edging characteristics you see in the favorable reviews. However, the deck on this boat was rather high, making it difficult to roll for someone who wasn't tall and long waisted. This version also had hatch covers that included a neoprene stretch cover protected by a fiberglass lid held on by straps. The neoprene was about 95% watertight, and the combination was a bit cumbersome to use. This boat is, I believe, also not in current production.
The newest version of the boat, the Performa L, is just about perfect. It retains the excellent handling of the Performa II's hull (straight tracking, easy to edge-turn, etc.) but the deck has been redesigned to be lower at the back of the cockpit, which makes it a snap to roll. At the same time, the redesigned deck manages to retain the commodious storage space, so there is plenty of room for gear. This is one of the roomiest boats I've seen.
The seat and backband are very comfortable -- no sore butt after a day of paddling -- and the cockpit has plenty of room to move your feet around.
I have paddled the boat in 20 mph winds and it handles very well without a rudder. I had a skeg on the Performa II that I had, but found that it was unnecessary weight. Why drag around something you don't need? I attribute the good rudderless performance to the hard chines, which run all the way from the bow of the boat to the stern. One caveat: I am fairly light (130 lbs), which makes the boat float higher and lets it lee-cock in high winds IF my gear is stored in the rear hatch. When I'm expecting windy conditions, I stow all gear in the forward hatch (keeping the bow chine in the water), and then there is no problem whatsoever -- the boat stays neutral regardless of wind or waves. Paddlers who weigh more or who are paddling a loaded boat would not have this issue.
I want to second the comments about outstanding secondary stability. I can lean this boat nearly vertical to the water and feel secure. So I can turn it on a dime by spinning the boat on one edge (or turn more leisurely by edging to the outside of the turn).
The Performa L also has redesigned one-piece fiberglass hatch covers with a rubber compression ring on the underside and "latchable" straps that hold the covers in place. The design is easy to use and 100% watertight, a really nice improvement.
My Performa L weighs about 51-52 lbs.
All in all, I would recommend this boat to anyone looking for true value. It has a somewhat different "look" than most boats because of its hard chines and high hull, but then it handles and performs better than most boats too!