-- Last Updated: Oct-07-12 8:50 AM EST --
By the way - you are taking classes with the Portland Kayak Company? Great choice.
You'll appreciate spending time before buying more boats. Learning some of the upcoming stuff that you have planned, like rolling and I assume self-rescues, often changes your view of what you want in a boat in terms of deck height, fit, that kind of thing. Certain attributes in a boat and its fit can make all the diff between a boat being easy to manage or a really trying, exhausting bear. A couple of folks came thru the board recently with just that experience.
As to how each boat got affected by the wind (Perception and Tempest), the diff likely had nothing to do with the boat other than the Perception having more windage. The way the boats were turning were a factor of the wind direction and whatever current was acting on the boat at the time - as I recall you were in some current on the one day you had the Tempest on the water.
You may want to mess around with just shifting your weight into the bilge to get the boat on edge, rather than going thru the extra effort of lifting with the thigh braces. You'll find use for them quickly enough when you get to rolling. In the meantime, unlike a 100 pound skinny female, you have enough weight that you can get some edge just by moving your butt over and staying more relaxed.
The bottom line though is that, the bigger the target volume of the boat is compared to the paddler in it, the more effort it will take to keep a boat on edge. There isn't anything you can do to alter that relationship.
I am confused by one thing though - your repeated reference to wanting to lean back. I was at first assuming you were thinking in terms of a layback position for a roll, not necessarily required but a very common way to start people in rolling. But I am beginning to wonder if I have that right. Is there some other phase of paddling that you want to lean back for? If it is to stretch out your back, leaning over the foredeck can work too, and the basic rotation exercises once you get some targeted work on the forward stroke also help the back. The lower body is usually helped by doing active pedaling... something else that comes in with forward stroke work. So there are ways to get some body relief in the boat that you likely haven't encountered yet.