I know a lot about Blackhawk canoes. I worked at Blackhawk Canoe the summer of '85 and again from 1991 till 1993. The other reviews really are right on the money. I've paddled a lot of boats, but have never found a boat I like better than my Blackhawk Zephyr.
With admittedly less initial stability than the oft compared Bell Wildfire, the Zephyr is noticeably faster and more enjoyable to paddle. It's attention to detail is unmatched even today (especially today?). The seamless integration of the decks and flotation tanks have to be seen to be believed. It was a lot of work making all those extra parts and later fiberglassing them into the hull - but it had CLASS. I've been paddling my Zephyr for 12 years now and appreciate it more all the time. My model is all Kevlar/Carbon weave cloth with a Spectra belly panel. The wooden rails and thwarts are all mahogany. This particular boat is an experimental layup of my own design (double strength hull bottom with lighter weight decks, flotation tanks and seat pods). Actual weight is the standard spec of 34 pounds for the GOLD (spec was 39 pounds for the fiberglass model).
You should have met the owner, Phil Siggelkow. Early mornings he'd come downstairs with mussed hair wearing a $100 pair of Royal Robbins slacks, barefoot on the resin and gel-coat covered shop floor, a mug of thick Eight O-Clock coffee in one hand and an unfiltered Camel in the other. A certified genius if ever there was one.
If you can't buy a Zephyr, do whatever you can to at least paddle one - it'll give you something to compare all other boats to.The Zephyr is a neat alternative to the Bell Wildfire at 14'2". It was made as the smallest member of a family which also includes the Ariel (15'1") and the Starship (15'11" I believe). The boats were originally constructed as touring or light tripping canoes. But the Zephyr found a home among many folks interested in Freestyle.
Blackhawks were built until about 1994 by Phil Sigglekow in Janesville, WI. The Zephyr is one of the most interesting (and beautiful) hull shapes any canoe has been constructed in. It's radically asymmetrical above the waterline and slightly fishform at the water. The stern is low and recurved to gain the maximum waterline length with the least windage.
The Zephyr is a wonderfully responsive canoe for an experienced paddler that loves to be heeled over to the rail. It makes a fun boat to play with freestyle during the evenings after a day traveling.
Blackhawks are available in fiberglass (Silver layup) and kevlar/fiberglass (Gold layups) with mahogany and ash trim. A nifty option is the SST adjustable cane seat that both slides and allows height adjustments.
Hunt for a used one at your local canoe shop.... It's worth the paddle.