-- Last Updated: Apr-20-10 3:10 AM EST --
I'm 50. My three regular paddling partners are older than me. We are all married hetero family men, that love and want to see our wives again. We all pretty regularly(like once or twice per week, mostly in Spring-Fall-Winter, paddle Class III+ thru Class IV water together--with drops as high as 8'). We all started/used hardboats for quite a while. Three of us now use Thrillseekers. And the fourth is looking to sell his hardboat and get one for himself(or maybe the new Aire Force 2010, I forget which.)
Maybe that answers some questions for ya?
I had some of the same psychological issues you mentioned. And although I started (and still use from time to time)my hard ww boat (Diesel 75)
I've never mastered my offside(left)roll in big water. Don't know why really. Of course, I've always done it just fine in the pool, lake, or on a pond with a friend coaching. So I desperately needed an ease-of-use solution in waterways with big rocks lurking beneath the surface. And I already knew that solution wasn't a canoe(bailing,kneeling,schlepping and singleblading in Class IV: I have issues)or a raft(got to use to the narrower beams and speed). So I've now made the full-time switch to strictly solo-paddling duckies in boney waters over Class III+. Got my TS used from my friend, but I'm told Atilla is a great guy who'll interview you about what you paddle most/and want to accomplish before taking any money and fitting you out in one of his boats. (Hey, he triple welds and handmakes them himself--How cool is that?) Worth every penny(I'm gonna have to save really hard in this recession, if I want to get a newer one.) The only soft spot in the design I've found, is the TS's rocker can make it somewhat tricky to right after turtling. (A few more handles/grab lines would be nice.) But then again, if you get really competant with one, you'll never ever have to swim, if you don't want to! (I only seem to, when trying out some goofily high surf waves or playing in a grabby hole that anyone in his right mind would stay the hell out of.)
Special disclaimer for this forum only: Not really a "fishin' yak," but can work somewhat at that too...On windless days, that is. Don't expect to carry alot more than your pump, water bottle and a small lunch: The Thrillseeker weighs just 26 lbs. and rolls up tight to about the size of a pair of jeans or sweatshirt...