Just a few comments from a new kayaker:
I have had the Marlin Prelite for 4 months and have paddled 3 to 4 times a week between 12 and 15 miles most days a few 20 mile trips. I can't compare it with other kayaks; have only paddled one other. What I can say is that when paddling with others they are all amazed at the speed of it. Doesn't matter if it's in flat seas or swells up to 3 feet (that's my skill limitations not the kayaks).
I was a bit worried about the stability of this size kayak when buying it because of limited or I should say no skill level, but from the first day have been amazed at what I can get away with when practicing my edging and traveling through some 4-5 foot wakes caused by boof heads in 50 foot cruisers.
I was advised to spend a bit extra on a good light weight paddle which I think is some of the reason I find the long paddles surprisingly easy for novice, I find it tracks really well with the wind in any direction even a hard quartering wind and in the flat water and rivers with the rudder up I'm often amazed how my edging skills are progressing, pretty sure it the kayak and not me
The reason I give a rating 8 is I have nothing to compare it with but for me personally it's a BIG 10, I often get comments from people on what a great looking rig it is. One point on the durability of the HTP moulded finish: the guy were I purchased it from also paddles this model, he has had the kayak on his roof racks for 12 months only takes it off to go paddling and the finish is as good as a new one with no noticeable fading or warping.