That's a great summation of the Pudgy, Medsailor. No matter how you slice it, that's a big load in the photo for a hard dinghy under 8'!
We've always used hard dinghys in our coastal sailing. We love to row and sail them for excercise and fun. The biggest drawback to ours is, it's 9'6" long. But that's the minimum boat we have found for a family of four for a safe tender. It's too big to put on deck, so we don't. Like the Pudgy, our tender is designed to tow well in most anything(we don't go out in most anything...)
The Portland Pudgy is growing in popularity in my harbor. There are 3 I think from 0 just a couple years ago. One couple I know rows their Pudgy regularly for fun, as well as reaching their boat quite far out. They're in very good shape! You give an honest report on their rowing ability, I'd say they're only a bit less rowable than similar sized high load carrying hard dinghys.
I talked to the Portland Pudgy rep at a local boat show this summer. He said orders are picking up.
All in all, I'd say it's a very good compromise for a good hard dinghy and small coastal life raft. It's the only one that does that.