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Tips and Tactics

The following Tips and Tactics are designed to allow you to get the most from your Hawk Apparent Wind Indicator. If there are other topics or ideas that you would like an answer to, then please email us and we will add it in.

Good Sailing !!.

Little Hawk MK1


The Little Hawk MK1 is a must for all Dinghy Sailors for both upwind and downwind sailing.  One of the hardest things when trying to improve boat speed is to get the best downwind angles. Ben Ainslie’s Olympic Coach (David “Sid” Howlett) insists that all the Finn Squad use a Little Hawk Mk1 Downwind. You will see one below attached to the top of Ed Wright’s mast.


The Little Hawk MK1 is very light (16 grams) and very low windage making it ideal for the top of the mast.

The Tip for sailing downwind is to not have the wind indicator pointing inside the limits of your transom, there by not sailing directly down wind. A quick look up at the Little Hawk every few seconds as the wind shifts and gusts and correcting your heading to keep the boat on a very broad reach or a slight run by the lee. Keeping the wind indicator pointing outside of the limits of your transom is super fast.

The following photos show a number of methods of attaching the Little Hawk MK1 to the top of your mast. You will note that some of these have involved cutting the support rod down to about 6 inches.


Tape It on


Drill hole in mast top


Slide down between sail and mast


Drill out burgee bracket

The Little Hawk Mk1 is also all but indestructible, and is ideal for use by the coaches out on the race track, or by Race Officials and their course setting team to judge the true wind direction.



Little Hawk MK2


The Little Hawk Mk2 is our most popular wind indicator and can be found on the front of the mast on Toppers and Lasers around the world. It can be used both upwind (Particularly in the light stuff when your tell tails wont lift or are stuck to the sail) or downwind to get reverse flow.

One of the biggest problems faced by customers with the closeness of racing in the Laser and Topper fleets is that other boats mainsheets get caught over the Little Hawk Mk2 either on the start line or whilst rounding marks. This ultimately results in the Little Hawk being rudely ripped from the mast. There are a number of things that can be done to prevent this.

The first and most obvious is to turn the Little Hawk MK2 upside down, so as mainsheets come your way, they can not attach themselves to your Little Hawk MK2 and just fall away. The only problem with this is that the Little Hawk MK2 is not designed to work upside down and the bearing surface has more friction and will not be as accurate. If you are going to do this we would recommend that you only turn it upside down in winds above 8 knots.


Only recommended above 8 knots

The next method is to attach corks to the support rod. This does not stop the Little Hawk Mk2 being ripped of by your arch rival, but it does mean it will not sink to the bottom and allows you to retrieve it from the water.


Drill a 4.4mm hole through the cork

The other, but more fiddly option is to fit a retaining line. This means that again when it is ripped off it simply dangles in front of your mast and can be fitted back between races.

One problem that we do see time and time again is people not assembling the Little Hawk MK2 properly. The Support Rod needs to be pushed in to the Mast Clamp by 15mm so that when the retaining screw is tightened, it bites down into the Aluminium Rod. If this is done properly then you should not be able to pull it back out by hand. This will certainly save a few being lost.

Sailing down wind in most single-handed boats is universally believed to be faster when you have Reverse Flow. Or to be non technical, when the air is flowing over the sail from the leach of the sail to the mast. To do this, let the sail out almost to 90 degree’s, pull the outhaul tight to flatten the sail and let the kicker up as much as you dare and run slightly by the lee. Now watch your opposition disappear in your wake !!. In winds above 10 knots you will have to practice this a lot as you get very close to capsizing to windward. If this is the case then put your plate down more than normal to steady the boat.


You can use your Little Hawk MK2 to spot Reverse Flow and keep it going well. Make sure your Little Hawk MK2 is above the gooseneck and as soon as the air flow starts flowing from leach to the mast your Little Hawk MK2 will point at the mast as in the photo. If the Little Hawk MK2 is swivelling around madly it means you are getting turbulence off the mast. Adjust your sail in or out slightly to stop this.


Hawk Race

The Hawk Race is a bigger and more accurate version of the Little Hawk MK2. It uses the Hawk Vane arm so it’s accurately balanced and has a “V” Jewel bearing. This gives it amazing accuracy in the light stuff due to the low friction bearing, counterweight balancing resulting in a low moment of inertia.


The main problem customers have with the Hawk Race and the Hawk is loosing the Vane Arms. This is 100% due to incorrect assembly from new. It is very important that the vane Arm and the Locking Block are pushed on far enough for you to see clear air between the Vane Arm Flange and the Locking Block. See the Photo below.


This means that the Vane Arm is pivoting properly on the Support Rod Needle and when you screw the Locking Block screw in, it tightens up on the Aluminium. The Vane Arm will now not come off !!.

Designed for larger single handers like the Finn, Blaze, RS600 Etc, the Hawk Race is perfect for monitoring Reverse Flow downwind in light airs. For the technique on how to do this see the Little Hawk Mk2 above.



The biggest problem we come across with the Hawk is people not putting the Locking Block on properly. If the Locking Block is too high the Vane Arm Flange will rub on the locking block causing excessive friction and you will be in danger of the Vane arm jumping off. If the Locking Block is on too far then there will also be excessive friction.

You will see the photo above under Hawk Race showing the correct way to set up your locking block. The Vane arm must be sitting only on the point of the needle. The Locking Blocks position is then adjusted so you can see clear air between the locking block and the Vane Arm Flange. The Locking Block screw can now be tightened into the Aluminium to lock it in place. This makes the whole unit secure with minimal friction.

The second most important point with the Hawk is to correctly set up your Reference Arms. You will need to put your Hawk in position on the top of the mast and then look down the mast as in the photo.


The Reference arms need to be an equal distance either side of the centre line of the mast. Most sailors will set the arms up to about 30 degrees either side of centre. This does 2 things. Firstly it allows you to judge the position of the reference arms to the back of the Vane Arm when sailing upwind to give you a reference for good pointing. And secondly it is a reference with the front of the Vane Arm when running downwind to judge good gybing angles.

As your technique improves you may find you want to adjust the angles of the reference arms for upwind or downwind sailing, but 30 degrees is a good starting point.


Great Hawk

The key to good boat speed using the Great Hawk is getting the reference arms correctly set up. Please see the Hawk above. The benefit of the Great Hawk is that it comes with different Locking Block Pieces that Lock the Reference Arms at preset angles. 55, 60 and 65 degrees. We would suggest 55 degrees for racing boats and 65 degrees for cruising boats. 60 degrees is in the middle for Cruiser/Racers.

Once you have set the Great Hawk up, it needs to be positioned on the top of the mast in a position you can see it from the cockpit and with the Reference Arms equal distance either side of the centre line. This can be done in the Boat Yard before the mast is stepped, but so often the aerials and Hawks get knocked by the lifting slings etc. If this fails you will need to send somebody up the mast with a small screw driver. The simple method is to loosen the screw in the Locking Block and rotate it slightly until the alignment is good.

Now you can use the Reference Arms with the back of the Vane Arm to judge your pointing angles upwind or with the front of your Vane Arm to judge your gybing angles downwind.

New for the Great Hawk in 2007 is the Mast Crane adaptor. Most Yacht Masts have a Crane or plate at the top for external Halyards which have predrilled holes in them to connect Antennas and lights etc. The new adaptor bolts straight into one of these holes and then allows you to screw the Great Hawk Mast Clamp into the adaptor and saves having to drill any holes in the mast. See the photo below.





HAWK Marine Products Ltd, Olympic House
Mill Rythe Lane, Hayling Island, Hampshire, PO11 0QG
TEL: +44 (0)23 92463864    FAX: +44 (0)23 92467204    Email: