Arctic Hawk

Many of you kind folks were kind enough to respond to my recent thread about potentially making the switch from a standard class OC-1 (almost, but not quite, a marathon canoe) to a good fast touring kayak. The recommendations came down to a QCC-700 or an Epic 18.

I primarily want the decked boat for two things - rough water / weather days on the Tennessee River (where I paddle daily before work) as well as the now and then trip to the beach. So I tried out a carbon Chatham 18, and liked it well enough, but have learned that it is really designed for some fairly serious off-shore paddling, and not what I’m doing.

Anyway, I have an opportunity to get a really good deal on a used Arctic Hawk. So, what I’m looking for is a general consensus on what this boat is best used for, and how well it does what it has been designed to do. Picking up this boat, due to the good price, would allow me to keep my carbon canoe as well (which would be great, cause I do love my canoe 9 months out of the year and when the wind isn’t too extreme).


That Boat Is Also
a “rough water” boat and probably not as fast as say a QCC 700, if speed is what you want over rough water handling.


arctic hawk
the guy i used to paddle with all the time in seattle had one and liked it. he did well in races with it. as sing said, it is reasonably fast, but nowhere near as fast as the other 2 on your list. but it’s a really nice boat in other ways, and since the price is right, i for one would go for it (unless you have the extra money).


Arctic Hawk…
In rough water, very fast, very smooth, very wet.

A low volume boat without a skeg or rudder… doesn’t get much better…

A friend that has one says it makes the Caribou feel like a cork…

It’s a great boat, and
promotes good paddling technique. It’s tippy enough to improve your balance, requires excellent leaning and edging in order to turn, rolls very easily, and has all the advantages of the classic Greenland design: low windage, good speed (approximately 6% slower than a boat like the QCC 700), excellent balance in rough water and waves, low aft deck for layback rolls, and very beautiful. On the downside, like any long boat it’s at risk of pearling in big waves (though it side-surfs perfectly), and it’s not maneuverable–it’s strongest going point A to point B. Tracks like it’s on rails, until you edge it.

My wife paddles a “Hawk,” a slightly narrower and longer version of the same boat, in mahogany. It’s an Arctic Hawk on speed, and is just as wonderful.


what they said and…
it IS a very traditional design, in fact Mark Rodgers (the designer) took the lines right off typical SW Greenland shapes from the late 1800/ early 1900 era. this was a bit after whiteman had made an impact of the shapes and many Greenlanders began widening and softening the lines for the whities.

The bow is quite thin and will bury and grab in big mixed water. advantage is it cuts right thru and deliver a fairly straight run. tracks/ broaches.

It does weathercock a bunch but is low windage and easily corrects with tilt/ sweep.

good luck.


Steve, I been wondering whether adapting a skin geometry to plywood construction made as much sense as starting from a design using plywood construction. I’m thinking of the Caribou compared to the Hawk as a better all around hull shape. What’s your $.02?

I stopped by EMS yesterday and although the employees bemoaned the lack of pro-deals for the Tempest it was nice to see the boats there.

The aft hatches looked the same as last years though. Are they?

IMHO- 2 centavos
the caribou is a better all around design, especially with a skeg. it has a rockered, fuller bow section and resists pearling/ broaching as speed increases. It is batted around less by mixed seas.

The Hawk, OTOH, is a better ‘traditional’ design and would be better suited to the Greenlander aficianado (sp?) looking for a true GL design. I think the hawk may be a little faster too.

165 hatch is the same, rim is re-tooled.


for that matter
a betsie bay valkyrie or an aral is one step better than both for tracking and overall design.


small feet
Designed for smallish people with a size 7 ft foot. Hawk is too small for me.

what are the differences between the Hawk and Betsy Bay.

It’s been awhile since I paddled a Hawk but the sharp entry looks like a grabber in choppy water. After building a bunch of four panel s&g boats I’m always surprised how “soft” the Caribou is in the water, easy transitions. ps. for all the nitpicking I do about the Tempest in it’s details I like how it looks and paddles.

is narrower. May not be the best choice for the first kayak. And, again, if speed is a concern, I think a more rounded hull is better than the hard chine, greenland inspired hulls.


LeeG-have you looked/tried/demo the
Outer Island yak? Many think it combines the best features of the other low volume kayaks that are being suggested.???

saw it once
at St. Michaels,the stern sure swoops up,what I like is that Jay kept working on the design after a few versions were made.

arctic hawk
"it IS a very traditional design, in fact Mark Rodgers (the designer) took the lines right off typical SW Greenland shapes from the late 1800/ early 1900 era. this was a bit after whiteman had made an impact of the shapes and many Greenlanders began widening and softening the lines for the whities."

Hello Steve,

The general consensus is that Greenland kayaks became wider in the last century primarily due to the adoption of firearms – the guns are carried in a bag on deck and this raised the center of gravity.

I like the arctic hawk for extended trips. However for a daytrips or working on advanced Greenland rolls it is too high volume for my tastes (I’m 5’10 and 175lbs). Actually the smaller “sparrow hawk” fits me much better.

Greg Stamer

I have size 9 feet, and
it fit me fine–but people who paddle Greenland boats get used to a tighter fit. I believe the front deck height of the Hawk/Arctic Hawk is around 11", which is two or three inches less than that of most boats.

Like Greg, I actually prefer the Sparrow Hawk, for an even tighter fit that makes rolling easier and control even better, but it’s a significantly slower boat because it’s shorter.

If the original poster has a chance at a good price on an Arctic Hawk, it may not be his “boat for life,” but it sure might be an interesting boat to own for a while and learn from. In my case, owning a Greenlandic boat led fortuitously to learning about Greenland paddles, and then Greenland rolls.

Regarding the widening of Greenland boats, Vernon Doucette, a historian of Greenland kayaking, told me just what Greg (the president of QajaqUSA) said above–that they widened to accommodate firearms, both the weight and the additional stability required to prevent capsize when firing.

Comparing Superior Kayaks (Hawk, etc.) with Betsie Bay (Aral, etc.)–I like the build quality of Superior’s boats much better, though I admit the Aral is the easiest to roll of all the boats from both manufacturers. But, the original question concerned a nice used fiberglass boat… I still say, go for it!