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It is not perfect. It is not as fast as one might expect, and it is not the driest whitewater canoe out there. It is my idea of the best compromise, though.
For those who wonder, the second best canoe is a Trailhead Prospector 17' Royalex.
The fit and finish of the hull/layup was excellent, and the woodwork was very good (though not quite as nice as the old Bell's, or other "fancy" canoes). The construction feels very solid, the thwarts are well placed, the yoke was balanced and reasonably comfortable, the boat weighed exactly as it was advertised. The seats are mounted on rails riveted to the hull. They are comfortable, and a compromise between higher (for better kneeling) and lower for sitting. Personally, I would have liked them just about an inch higher for whitewater use (especially if you have big feet). Having them low, though, stabilizes the canoe while sitting.
This canoe is claimed to be "twice as fast as a plastic boat". That is an exaggeration. While efficient for a boat of this type, it moved along well, but didn't strike me as being a speed demon.
I have owned over a dozen canoes, and paddled many more. I believe this Hellman is my new favorite for a mixed (flat and whitewater) tripping design. Definitely worthy of consideration if you are looking at an OT Tripper, Mad River Revelation, Bell Alaskan, or Nova Craft Prospector 17. While a bit more expensive, I suspect this canoe will out-perform them all.
As I said - more to follow...
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