Posted by: nycmhandy on Oct-08-12 10:17 PM (EST)
In August I paddled a Swift Shearwater for four days, and I really liked it with a load of maybe 40 pounds (plus my 225). I paddled one years ago and didn't like it much -- I agreed with rblturtle's opinion that it was sluggish. This year's rental, though, was of an infused hull (I can't remember the name of the layup, but it was shimmery silvery gray). Due to an administrative error earlier in the day we arrived, AO had rented out the two solos we had reserved, so they had to borrow two all-but-new infused demos from the Swift factory next door. Lucky us! I don't know if it was weight or stiffness or small differences in shape, but the hull was fun to paddle. So there's one option for you: buy infused.
A second option is to paddle the boat you have, but lock yourself into the boat a little more, for stability. I paddle a Placid Boatworks RapidFire as a kneeling solo, and I do as stevet suggested: a fair amount of the time I have one leg extended forward and one tucked under the seat. However, the Rapid has sea-kayak-style foot braces mounted along the side, so I can lock into a solid support on the side I'm extended on. The knee on the other side is also solid. It's almost as stable as kneeling on both knees. I don't know if you could mount that kind of footbrace in the sides of the Merlin II or if you would need a cross-hull footbar, like racers use.
Finally, I have paddled the Wenonah Prism for a few days, and I agree that it is large enough for you. Wenonah would probably outfit it as a kneeling boat for a modest customization charge. It is among my least favorite solos -- another one that felt sluggish when I rented one. Maybe one of these days I will score an infused hull for a rental....