To start with, I am 6'5" and 270lbs with a 36" inseam. This boat is designed for a big paddler. This is not the 16' 22" beam Nighthawk. I got the boat with the Carbonlite construction and couldn't be happier with the material. It is plenty rigid, supports my weight very nicely when getting in and out of the boat. The finish is smooth and bright, most everyone thinks this is a composite boat. The cringes when I raft it up onto shores and ramps are always amusing. This is a polycarbonate material, not polyethylene. One of the nice things with it is you can do a repair in a similar fashion to a fiberglass boat, with polyethylene it is a stickier proposition to repair any hull damage.
Handling; this boat has a 24" beam which on paper had me hesitant. Out on the water however, this boat handles really nicely. It's plenty lively, edges very well and knee dragging will easily cover for any wind. Because of the beam it has excellent primary stability and with the soft V hull design beam currents and waves still pass nicely under the boat.
The secondary stability is also quite high on this boat. After a few outings with it I can essentially just drop it onto its sides, it's very reassuring and this makes for much more relaxed leaned turns and maneuvers. I would guess I have only about 60 miles on the boat so far so all of this is initial impression.
Cockpit comfort; the cockpit volume in this boat is massive. I have a 36" inseam and fairly large built legs. I can still cross my legs easily at the knee inside the boat. On the last peg my legs are in a just barely bent and fully relaxed position.
Finally a boat with enough reach to the pegs I can actually make use of a few positions. The cockpit opening is very large and is a bit tricky to find a skirt for as most outfitters don't have this boat listed yet. Snapdragon's XL deck size fits it perfectly, I have the Ocean Tour neo skirt and it works very well. The NRS "Monster" is several inches too small just to save people some time. The '9' is because the stock hard plastic seatback isn't all that great over long trips. I replaced it with a backband and it now feels like a Barcalounger. I've done two trips each in the area of 5hrs without any comfort issues at all. With a 40" waist and large legs I still could use some minicell for thigh hooks and hip pads. I would be willing to bet this boat would handle someone up to 350lbs no problem.
Manners in the water; I haven't had it out in truly advanced conditions but I have had it out in 2' and larger chop with 15+ knot winds and it was just fine...I could sit with my arms folded without any trouble. I've had waves breaking over the bow and wind stiff enough to blast spray back up and the boat just keeps on tracking. The skeg works very well, it's great to have for longer crossings to keep you on course in winds or currents.
Storage volume: Huge, I think I could ice down two cases of beer in the back hatch, the hatches are watertight, similar to if not Kajak Sport but without the added bungees in the ring channel. I'll be adding those myself. If you like to camp, this boat will haul it all.
This is a great confidence inspiring boat for the big paddler. It is plenty fast enough to keep up with Perception Eclipse or CD Storms and numerous Valley boats that I've been out with, yet it's also stable enough that you can enjoy the ride when things get whipped up.
My only wants would be a deck pump option, this boat isn't cheap and I'd bet the audience for it would appreciate this option...this sucker has a lot of water to pump out when the cockpit is full. The other want would be for a better backrest, the hard plastic is a bit rough over several hours and there is plenty of room to suspend a nice backband.
I'd buy it again, if I hit the lottery I might even spring for the Kevlar reinforced "Modulus" layup next time.