What's faster silhouette or arctic hawk

What’s faster Nigel Foster silhouette or

W.S. arctic hawk. Have to drive 6-8 to test

these boats & was wondering what was better

performance boat. Looking for low in water,

low front deck height. What would you spend

your money on?

“Performance” means differnt thing to different paddlers.

Silhouette should be faster as it’s narrower. I wouldn’t call it particularly low up front - even my QCC 700 has a lower foredeck.

Kwikle should be your man to discuss Silhouette with here. I don’t know any speed/distance types with either.

AH is a bit lower up front, but wider.

For a bit lower decks, decent speed, and good rolling - also check out an Outer Island from Impex (New Liskeard, ON (SE) - might save you some time and $?)

Demo is the only way to really know. All good kayaks. Different fit and personalities.

Deck height on silhouette
Haven’t sat in silhouette, I was told it was

very low deck height low volume boat. But on

paper deck height dosen’t seem very low. About

the same deck height as sirius I just sold.

Have sat in arctic hawk & liked lower deck,

just the seat would have to be replaced. Looking

for day tripping boat with speed & possible weekend trips

Seriously consider the OI…

outer island
haven’t tried outer island, have tried force

cat3. Cat3 fit like a glove, but seemed a bit

slow. I think lenght is only 16.6 in brochere.

Outer island hard to turn?

Neither, but both good.

Why the obsession with speed with
these kind of kayaks? I would think the difference is small and may vary from paddler to paddler. Just get the boat and enjoy.

Both, but try OI
Both the Silhouette and Artic Hawk are among the fastest of their type boat (still more drag than an Epic Endurance or QCC700).

If you are interested in speed and low decks, you should really try an Outer Island.

Why is speed important?

If you want speed in a sea kayak, maybe you should try a Valley Rapier.

OI hard to turn
hmmm. If you mean a slight lean and the kayak turns then yes the OI is harder to turn. If you mean initiating a turn with a solid lean and sweep then the OI is easy to turn. A bow rudder continuing into a forward stroke corrects quickly and easily.

I find that the tempest with a slight lean already begins to turn. I find that with the OI that a more aggressive lean and a gentle “push” such as a sweep stroke or a bow rudder and it turns just fine. It is just a longer waterline with less rocker.

Now having said this, there has only been one time where I had a bity of difficulty turning the OI and that was when I went with Greyhawk through the mangrove tunnels and needed to back up a couple of times to keep on track…but I attribute that mostly to not knowing the area and also in not paying attention soon enough to give the OI room to turn where needed. There has been absolutely no issue whatsoever in normal turning while cruising. Concurrently, when I did the 17 mile run with Greyak a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have any problem turning where necessary as we went through some canals etc…just not as tight as the mangroves. This is not a river boat meandering through a bunch of curves. this is a touring (very fast) boat that rolls beautifully, and has great glide. It is incredibly stable in both primary and secondary with what I would call soft chines so it is very predictable on either the leans or the rolls - no abrupt transitions.

my 2 cents…

Outer island
I’ll look into trying outer island before

buying. Was wondering if anybody has had

experence with silhouette.

the only glaringly obvious things about the silhouette that I ddin’t like were:

1: You seem to balance between chines. In other words, it seems like you are either on one edge or the other and can’t just sit quietly with the boat straight up…hopefully this makes sense.

2. (I have to preface this with the fact that I am not used to hard chines) I felt that the transition with rolling was similiar to the acuta in that it was either all or nothing. In other words, with the tempest or the OI I have a “grace period” where I can drive with the leg a bit more to smoothly and slowly roll the boat over. With a hard chine, there is a definite transition and you are either up or down…not sure I explained that well either and please see preface above before starting to flame me.

It is a fast boat but at this stage of quality and design, the motor makes more of a difference in my opinion. All of the boats mentioned have fast hulls.

A comment that I have heard over and over is that Nigel made these boats for him. So if you fit into that style of paddling/maneuvering and using the above comment, the silhouette is a great boat. (just what I have heard said)

Alex (schizopak) has the Silhouette and loves it and uses it as his rolling boat in composite…as usual, every paddler is different and only extensive seat time will tell for you.



– Last Updated: Apr-26-06 11:11 AM EST –

If speed is your objective why paddle either boat?

a racing style boat would suit you better.
If you are after performance over all, edging, turning, and a great camping boat for a medium/smaller paddler, a silhouette is a great boat. It rolls really really well, I can roll my silhouette better than a betsie bay. It is on the twitchy side for some, I've just gotten used to it. And I know how to handle it, and now will probably hold onto mine until they are about to change the mold, and then I will buy a new one for a spare. But I am nut for the carving, turning, ability which is what I prize in this boat that is almost 18' long.

My perception of the arctic hawk from wilderness systems is not particularly good. I mean it's ok, but it doesn't get my motor going anymore. It's ok fast. But sluggish in the corners and just no what i look for.

The superior kayaks arctic hawk is fast, real fast, probably faster than the silhouette, but carves for crap comparatively, and is not really what I would take for a trip either. But I don't know if you want to do any camping at all. also the price tag of over 5000 bucks will karate chop your wallet faster than jackie chan.

Also I don't know the math on the deck height of a silhouette vs a qcc, but a qcc seems a lot bigger over all than the silhouette. However if it is speed you're after join the cult!

The silhouette is beautiful looking boat,

is cockpit snug fitting for slim 150lbs

paddler. I’ve paddled legend & it turned

so easy for big boat & seemed fast, it was

new model with hard chine all the way to the front

of the hull. Just legend was to big in

cockpit & front deck seemed high.

Silhouette’s faster in my experience
I’ve paddled the wooden Arctic Hawk, kevlar Arctic Hawk, Seaward Silhouette, and I own an Walden Silhouette. The Silhouette is FAST for a non racing sea kayak. I’ve sprinted into the wind and waves at 6.8 mph (GPS measured) and have turned around to sprint back at 9.8 mph. Granted a cruising speeds, both the Silhouette and AH are more than capable of maintaining great speeds but the Silhouette just has a better sense of “glide.” Also with a quick sweep and pure edging, you can spin that nearly 18 foot long boat 90 degrees. It’s a beautiful thing. Of course the AH is more primary stability although the Silhouette rolls better. The Silhouette is nearly a cheater boat for rolling.

OI = hard to turn in my opinion
True it has great speed, great glide, beautiful lines, and amazing rolling ability, but the lack of turning/carving ability was the one thing that prevented me from purchasing one. It is definitely a straight tracker. Coming from a Skerray (very playful) and even moreso whitewater playboats, I wanted a fairly responsive boat. I didn’t like the fact that I could drop my edge in the OI so that the coaming is entirely submerged and yet I still had to throw in way too many sweep strokes to turn the boat. It’s still a wonderful boat but definitely not very nimble. (All boats can’t be all things.)

You guys with your GPS’s. So you paddled a production sea kayak at 8.52 knots? You need to be in the Olympics dude! Chalupsky averaged about 8.69 knots in the Molokai on a surf ski, surfing swell. Turn the damn computer off.

not really…
Oscar averaging over like 40 miles = me sprinting all out with wind and waves pushing me forward. Top speed wave assisted is a far cry from the Oympians who can hold that speed on flat water across distance. The GPS was accurate since it said that for our entire paddle we averaged 3.5 mph which is in line with what our distance and watches would say. My comfortable cruising speed with the Silhouette is probably 4-4.5 mph although I’d like to eventually be able to comfortably cruise at 5 mph. My apologies if anyone read my post as averaging 9.8 mph across distance.

Superior AH

I have thoroughly enjoyed this message thread, so thanks for initiating it. As you may have noted, everyone here has so much experience with so many boats its just incredible.

I owned both both an Arctic Hawk and OI. Both fast, though IMHO the AH came up to speed and held it easier than the OI though the AH being kevlar was 15lbs lighter, so coming up to speed faster may have been because of the weight difference, I don’t know.

I cracked up with Kwikle’s remark about the $5700 Superior price for a wood AH and the “…karate chop your wallet faster than Jackie Chan” remark. Where do you guys get these great quotes???

But - in regards to that remark, there is a nice guy up in Boston selling a mint Superior Arctic Hawk on the Connyak.org website for $2400. Mark Rogers says his wood ones don’t weathercock, but note he sells optional skegs on his website - so who knows? Anyway, the boat is very nice, and is tempting too. Check it out…


mark says a lot of things. :wink:
While his AH’s are extremely well behaved in most conditions, they definitely do weathercock. I know a couple people who paddle Mark’s boats who have installed skegs (with Mark’s help) on their boats after paddling them for a while. Heck even my extremely well behaved Betsie Bay weathercocked although it was easy to make correctional strokes and edge it back in line. Mark has a lot of pride in his designs which can sometimes translate to more hype than substance.

First of all
I was going by memory on Oscars time which by memory averaged about 10 mph / 1.15 = 8.695 knots. That is not a perfect number, rather used to illustrate a point. You say your average overall was 3.5 mph, and that I believe.

GPS’s are not always accurate at lower speeds. I’ve sat on docks in yachts I’ve shuttled and had the GPS read 1 knot or so. This is quite common. Also when getting underway it seems you can get a few weird readings, then things settle down. I’ve had my GPS read 60+ mph after a fast ski run. I guarantee you I hit maybe 40…maybe.

So, I think people rely on the GPS, which they should, but I’d be wary of numbers that seem way off. Obviously if you are being pushed by waves or current the GPS will read your SOG, and it will be higher than your SOW.

So, we know the basic Hull Speed formula, which is just a reference for kayaks, and not top speed. It is however a reliable referrence of the point to where effort required to go faster is HUGE. If the boat is question has a 16.5 ft. waterline it’s HS would be roughly 5.44 knots, or 6.26 mph. So, the effort reguired to push that boat to 9.8 mph would be Olympian, which you may be! My guess is that you got a wierd reading, caught a push from a wake / wave, or had current with you. In the end it’s sorta silly anyway…it’s an efficient boat any way ya slice it. I’d say a strong paddler should easily maintain 4.5 knots in said boat for miles. That’s 5.175 mph.

BTW, why not deal in knots? That’s the unit of measurement applicable to nautical navigation. 1 minute of latitude = 1 nautical mile, or 6076 ft.

The best measure of speed would be a calm lake with a known distance course. V=D/T.