It might be worth looking at a few examples of the same boat, in case the bothersome variations are something that showed up in a single boat. As above, there are variations between manufacturers in the details of their materials and process. But there aren't indications of catastrophic failure being an issue with either of these lines.
Congrats on the pool work. As to the paddles.... it might be worth spending time with a Greenland paddle. They come in cheaper than the fancy lightweight Euro paddles and are easier on the joints.
I speak from experience about being stuck using a log for a paddle if you lose the better one. I had to do it for a full day at a training and I was sore for a good while after.
Rescue / Throw Bags
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