I'll agree with Badkins on two points here; 1) you gotta paddle the CFS aggresively or you'll get your ass handed to you, and 2) he is "different", you'll find no arguments there
I've got about a dozen days in the CFS (front range stuff) since my Gradient broke, and it's really starting to grow on me. The Salto was better than OK, but only have about 6 days (North CA) in one. One day in a Rocker (NF Salmon) and really liked it, right out of the box comfy predictable, same with the M3 (Green NC). But the M3 has too many parts (>200?, and there were always nuts and bolts rolling around inside!), and I've seen some cracking problems on the chine on 3 boats, bummed cause I loved that boat. A day in a Gus (Box, upper Sac), it was quick but quirky (I hear it takes about 20 days to get used to) and I felt like my legs were too straight. A day in an 8.1 Nomad (SSV) and I couldn't catch an eddy (odd since I had no prob's with a Gradient!), I should have tried the 8.5 for my H/W, though it could have been the hangover. Now I'm mid-season, still borrowing my little brother's CFS and no idea what I'm going to buy either. But my experience with the Gradient tells me you can get used to just about any boat over time and learn to make it dance.
5'11", 175lb, Strikingly Handsome