Page updated: 14 April 2009
Tony Bennett had been invited to try Greg Chapman's SeaHawk. The following is the text of two messages (slightly edited) that were posted to the NSBroadsboating group at the YahooGroups site.
From: "CRC Medical"
Date: Mon Oct 3, 2005 9:29 pm
Subject: Re: Three Rivers Race & Greg's Seahawk
Yesterday was the second time I have sailed Greg's Seahawk. It was blowing pretty well before we set off and Greg thoughtfully put a couple of rolls of main around the boom to reduce mainsail area by around 15 - 20%. We had a good run up Hickling Broad straight into shelter at the top end, at which point I remarked on the numerous white horses and the wind screeching through the rigging. We came out of the shelter to beat back and I must confess a tiny nervous moment when I saw how strong the wind was. The Seahawk was not only speedy and well mannered on the run with no death rolling like some small boats, but coped with gybing and beating back in a most civil fashion. Even the really hefty gusts put her over to a point where the water was probably near the underside of the rubbing strake, but she didn't seem inclined to go any further (pun intended ).
At this level of heel there was a bit of weather helm but she still responded to the (extra long!) tiller if it were forced to about 45 degrees. I'd say the boat is virtually viceless and a treat to sail, handling like a big dinghy but stable like a larger boat, with a huge cockpit to match. Coming into the home dyke the wind died and to avoid the quayheading I turned back out just as Greg got the electric motor going to avoid a larger boat behind us. We grounded on the sand but the Seahawk showed another great feature, tiller and mainsheet in left hand I was able to raise the keel with my right and continue on course.
Greg's Seahawk is powered by a very adequate electric motor - testing in that wind yesterday showed she would maintain steerage way and even make some ground head to wind with both sails up but the sheets loose. Impressive. Further, to my amazement, she sailed fairly well to windward on the jib alone, remarkable as it's not huge by any means.
Finally, with berths extending under the cockpit sole, she has enough room inside for a couple to overnight in, and that includes a potti and room for a small cooker too. Dropping the mast is childsplay (I'm told, but have yet to actually see it!) and the boom fits easily inside the cabin.
Can I find a criticism? Well, we discussed the merits of a single large cabin hatch/door which is awkward to stow, but at sea would provide total protection against a swamping wave. Of course she's not huge inside and has limited headroom (you can sit up nicely though) but that's only to be expected in a 17 footer.
In conclusion, her overriding feature is one of an unexpected feeling of safety, an ideal boat for beginners, excellent value with easy maintenance as she has virtually no exterior wood. Would I have one? If mooring fees rise any further I could almost buy one with my fee and keep it at home so the answer is yes, I should like to find one in my Christmas stocking!
Thanks again Greg, a most enjoyable sail.
The "extra long tiller" mentioned in Tony's report refers to one that Greg had made, 15" longer than the standard tiller. It is described in the Owner's Customisations section.
Greg complained that his report failed to mention Tony's sailing credentials, he posted this follow up:
Many thanks for that, Tony. All filed away for inclusion on the forthcoming page on the SeaHawk site. My only complaint is that you didn't mention other boats you've sailed regularly, or owned, to allow a reader who doesn't know you to understand your background and perspective.
I thought it was already long enough Greg, but as an addendum, I was comparing the Seahawk to both the 17 foot Lysander with twin bilge keels, and dinghies like the Wayfarer, Enterprise and Mirror. My own Vivacity 650 is a bit tublike by comparison, although it's larger sail area would have perked it up a bit on Sunday, shame we didn't have time to sail both!
The Seahawk has the stability of the Mirror, the roominess of the Wayfarer (and a bit more stability) and almost the responsiveness of the Enterprise. Come to think of it, it has the feel of a Bosun, exciting but immensely capable. There's little point in comparing to anything bigger because it's a difference in magnitude to talk about 36 or 37 footers, a bit like comparing a sports car to an executive saloon. Even Jerry's Norfolk Knight is in a different class, as oddly, would be the 23 foot Island Plastics I sailed last year. The Lysander is by length a direct competitor, and while a useful boat with it's twin keels, does not point as well nor would it handle winds like we had on Sunday last.
Now I really must find some more criticisms.....