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Submitted: 10-02-2003 by JMB

I don't own one of these kayaks but at the recent (2003) NW Kayak Symposium, I had an opportunity to paddle this boat. I am a big guy at 6'4" and 255 lbs so I tried virtually every kayak that I could squeeze into on the beach during the three days.

I own a Necky Looksha IV HV and have about four years of experience coupled with a lot of lessons from the best. But because of my large shoulders and top weight, I can say that I don't like boats that feel like they are about to roll and require a brace with every stroke yet I appreciate a twicky boat that has great secondary stability. Enough caveats and qualifications.

Of all the kayaks I paddled during the symposium, I kept coming back to the Night Hawk 17.5. I ended up paddling it 5 times in relatively flat water with a stiff breeze on occassion.

The cockpit is large and for me incredibly comfortable. The opening was one of the largest I have been in and it took my sprayskirt to the limit. But it was a good fit and the plastic braces were fine.

The boat was one of the most stable I have every paddled. There is something interesting about the stability almost like it wanted to right itself allowing me to keep pressure on the lean with total ease. By the 5th paddle, I could lean the boat over until the waterline was over my sprayskirt without feeling like the boat would heel. On such a lean, this kayak turns very quickly and smoothly. I was impressed.

The boat accelerated nicely and reached its probable optimal speed quickly. This boat is moderately fast, but not FAST-FAST in my hands.

In a stiff breeze, there was noticable weathercocking which could be overcome with a lean. I never deployed the skeg and did not feel a need too. On the other hand, I did not take the kayak for a 10 mile trip to really get a sense for its performance or to tire because of any under appreciated deficency. But of all the boats at the show, this one in particular, the Nimbus Telkwa, the the CD Solstice GTXL made the cut list as far as overall comfort, manueverability, and stability. Unfortunately, NW Kayaks chose to leave their XLs at home...I liked their Discovery but it was an uncomfortable fit.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone with experience with the Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5. At my exposure level, I do not share the opinion of the 5 of 10 reviewer although his experience may be much more extensive than mine.

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