I never thought much about it until I got a boat without it. Gelcoat is a sacrficial layer that keeps damage away from the structural stuff. If you scrape a gelcoated boat across a sharp rock you'll come home with a scratch in the gelcoat. If you scrape a skin-coat boat across a sharp rock you'll be looking at fibers in that scratch. The added weight is worth it to me.
Touring Kayak Paddles
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