-- Last Updated: Mar-06-14 10:47 AM EST --
It is certainly true that some boats become more stable with a load, but adding ballast to a boat seems a simple thing to do if one deems it to be desirable.
Lighter boats accelerate significantly better than heavier ones. It stands to reason that for any given hull configuration and paddler weight, a lighter hull will have at least somewhat less wetted surface area and therefore less frictional resistance.
One boat which I have paddled in two different weight configurations is the whitewater solo boat, the Esquif L'Edge. Esquif lists a weight of 61 lbs for the original L'Edge but it is pretty well known that some of the early fully decked models were up around 70 lbs outfitted. Contrast that with the Esquif L'Edge lite which weighs in around 53 lbs outfitted.
I have paddled both. I would not have assumed that 15 or so lb difference in weight would have resulted in a significant difference in performance, but for me the lighter L'Edge was very significantly more lively and responsive than the heavier one. Others who have paddled both have had the same impression.
Of course, paddling in whitewater puts a premium on being able to quickly accelerate the boat from a standstill with a few strokes. For steady paddling on flat water I don't think the performance difference would be that significant.
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