Well, I'm not old as far as serious paddling, only dedicated paddler for 12-15 years.
The it boat has always depended on what cohort of paddlers. When I was first seriously interested there were very dedicated North American and Brit boat cohorts. The it boats for each were different.
I liked 'responsive' boats. The first sea kayak I bought was the original Necky Elaho (15'9", drop skeg). My subsequent sea kayak purchases were British boats (Aquanaut, Romany, Nordkapp LV). By 2000 the Nordkapp was legendary, but the trend among dedicated paddlers was towards the Explorer. At symposiums and training sessions most coaches were paddling Explorers. Many paddlers followed suit.
In more recent times, P&H actively recruited coaches. Subsequently, at symposiums and training sessions, coaches showed up paddling Cetuses, Capellas, etc... So, paddlers followed suit.
The dominant boats in my paddling time have run from Nordkapp through Explorer to Cetus. All of them good boats.
The Nordlow is still the 'it' boat as far as I am concerned.
PFD's (Life Jackets)
Full Size Sail Rig
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