S18 Touring Kayak
Right from our very first paddle we knew the Stellar S18 would be the right kayak for our 2 month, 1200 km exploration of the Inside Passage of British Columbia. We were immediately impressed with the combination of speed and stability the S18 provided and it also offered the volume required for an expedition of this length.
The S18's suitability as a long distance touring kayak was confirmed throughout the expedition and it was comfortable in all of the sea conditions that we encountered, including rolling ocean swells and bouncy tide rips. Even fully loaded the S18 maintained an impressive cruising speed and we were able to easily eat up the miles each day. This certainly proved to our advantage during one leg of the expedition where we were kept off the water for 5 days due to bad weather and it then became essential for us to cover long distances to make up for this lost time.
Although it excelled as an expedition kayak the S18 is also an excellent choice of kayak for day trips and its speed also makes it an ideal kayak for fitness training. As a qualified kayaking instructor I have been impressed with how beginners are immediately comfortable in the S18 and will then make the most of its stability and speed to quickly develop a fast and efficient forward stroke.
Overall the S18 has shown itself to be an impressive kayak capable of fulfilling many roles; from a stable and speedy trainer through to a long distance cruiser, the S18 can do it all!
- Garth Irwin
Kayaking instructor and lead paddler
United World Kayaking Expedition
SR Surf Ski
1. Stability - After paddling both skis in mild flatwater conditions the stability goes to the SR - hands down!! This is both from the perpsective of PRIMARY and SECONDARY stability. Even though I never went over on the Huki ski - I never felt secure enough to put the power down and even after an hour still wobbled occasionally. On the Stellar - I was rock solid from beginning to end and found it almost humorous that I could stop completely and put the ski on such an extreme edge that the water almost came over into the bucket WITHOUT A PADDLE BLADE IN THE WATER! Nuff said - SR is the stability king for us newbies.
2. Speed - I didn't have enough chance to feel any difference in speed though it seemed that the Stellar seemed to "glide" better in between strokes, i.e. - held its speed longer.
3. Seating - Wow. . . what a difference! First off, the Stellar bucket is wider than the Huki S1-R - and the Huki seat (I was told) was actually their WIDE seat version. My hips are 38.5″ wide and there was no extra space for me in it. Not so with the Stellar as there was plenty of extra room. Secondly (and here comes the "grain of salt") the seat in the Huki made me feel like I was leaning backwards, much like I was paddling "uphill". . . whereas the Stellar positioned me to feel like I was leaning slightly forward without having to work to do so. Make sense?
3. Tracking/Turning - both skis turned well and easily and were very responsive. (especially for a guy used to kayaks with skegs!) As to tracking, for some reason it seemed as though the Stellar had better tracking as I was constantly making little steering inputs on the Huki to go straight. (remember, I am a newbie though)
Hope this helps some of you out on your ski choice. Now if I can just make up my mind regarding color I can get that excel layup SR ordered!
- Scott Lovrien
Tested SES excel twice off pt Cartwright - Qld in 15 20 knts ocean conditions. My previous boat v10 performance- verdict
Speed ses -much faster down win and flatwater.
Stability ses - primary was same similiar as v10
Stability ses - secondary much more than v10 when needed. ( my weakness on v10)
Build quality - excellent
Price/value - excellent
Features liked 3 pt footplate, carbon scupper , and bullet venturi. 11.5 kg , hull designed for my weight, stiffness of boat, footplate robustness, low nose volume doesn't catch wind or rogue whitewater as bad
Dislikes - high volume of cavity in front of footplate.
Verdict- paid the money. One month on- dramatic improvement in flatwater race time. Downwind not raced yet. Still happy loving the boat zero buyer regret.
I am loving the boat so far. . . it's great to finally have a boat that fits so well (my weight approx. 170 lbs.). It seems to catch our short wind swell better than any ski I have paddled yet! In the short "slop and chop". I feel the 20′ length is perfect. At times when my 21′ boat would bury, the SES fits perfectly between the waves. I am pulling 9.5-10.5mph avg. on a few 15-20 knot downwind runs I've done recently. In the flats I feel I am .1-.2 mph faster as well. I am going to stick with the heavier boat for now since I tend to get lots of use. The boat actually stays on my truck 5-6 days/week. My last carbon boat dinged up pretty good. I will let you know about the mayor's cup. It is a very comfortable seat (not quite as much as my 6), but I have no backside and need to pad up any boat I have ever had. I also adjusted the cables with a couple small clamps just behind the peddles. I felt they were angled too far back. I also added some bungees to the pedals so that the steering will auto adjust.
Greetings from Australia,
My ocean ski experience to date includes all epic models, think legend, stealth ocean ski & paddling fenn elites... The SES is an excellent ski & a pleasure to paddle - it is an unusual mx of stability, comfort & speed. Being (180lbs) 82kg & (5ft.8in)1.79m, I felt the SES model fitted like a glove. I particularly liked the slightly shorter length for maneuverability through surf & riding shorter steeper swells. There are many market leading aspects to this brand, including the affordability. I feel this boat is going to blow open the market for the intermediate paddler that is less than 90kg.
- Tony Hackland
S2E Surf Ski
Disclaimer: this is going to read like a sales pitch. It is not. I'm in no way affiliated with Stellar surfskis, not sponsored, no kick-backs, nothing. I love my Epic V10 as much as any man can love a boat. It's the perfect boat for me. But then, sometimes, when you least expect it, another boat just. . . enters your life. . .
Read on at your own risk: Last race season, Heather and I got to race the Stellar S2E tandem surfski, twice. The first time we pulled a 24:45 or so on the Wednesday Night course, not having been in a tandem ski even once in over a year. Race-time aside, we LOVED the experience of that boat.
Then, at the Lake Samish race we borrowed and paddled the same boat again, and fell even deeper in love with it. We had a comparably fast time for that course.
Like everyone else, our main concerns with what we paddle are comfort, speed, and stability. Quality of construction is key, too, then price.
In the first few seconds of sitting in the S2E on water, the comfort and stability are immediately apparent. Both are AWESOME. So awesome, in fact, that I found myself doubting that such a stable ski could be fast (at all). Then we raced it. My doubts were totally unjustified. It's freaking fast. And that wasn't even the light layup.
We've been dreaming of a tandem ski for the past couple years, and with the S2E we've found it. We just ordered one from Drew Harrison, white with a red deck, and will take delivery in the early spring.
Not to overuse the word "Awesome!" but the price was totally AWESOME too. We opted for the Advantage lay-up, fiberglass with soric core (one of Sterling's favorite core materials), 48 pounds, for $2840. Now get this: If you're willing to go 3 pounds heavier, you can get an all fiberglass tandem S2E with your choice of 6 different deck colors, for $2310.
If 2012 is indeed destined to be the "Year of the Tandem", the S2E seriously ups the on-water game, and drastically softens the blow to the bank account.
SES Surf Ski
I took the SES out Tuesday off Sachuest, 10 kt wind and 2-3 foot waves and just a bit of swell left over from Irene, a flat water paddle on Wednesday, and then Saturday which was AWESOME! SSW 15-20 kt winds - went out 5+ miles out from Sachuest pt and screamed all the way back in - I maxed at 13.3 MPH. Waves were often 5 feet with lots of 6-7 footers.
The secondary stability is very impressive - in the flat, I can lean it so far over that water comes over the gunwale and not tip over. This also makes remount very easy since as soon as I hop on it, in any position, I am completely stable.
While I don't have that many boats to compare it to and I don't really time myself on regular courses, I must admit it does seem faster than my Legend, especially in flat to 3 foot waves, as when I look down at the GPS, I always seem to be going a couple 10ths of a MPH faster than I would expect.
I see what you mean about the steering having some play due to the cord stretch. I think that the spectra cord that Think uses (600 pound Q-Power Spectra) does not stretch as much - I pushed on my peddles of both boats in my garage and it seems to me the Think cord stretches less. (Even with stretch, personally I like the synthetic cords better than stainless cable since the stainless cable can corrode from within and it can hard to tell there is a problem until it breaks.)
On the SES, very important to me, the bow does not easily bury in the trough, in fact it never buries in waves up to 3 feet or so, and only if I skate straight down a 5+ foot wave, and even then not all the time.
If you guys at Stellar have not thought of it yet - a 10" surf rudder would be great. The 8" is good in surf, but since it is swept back
slightly it loses some bite.
The SES broaches more-so on large waves (5+ feet) more easily than the Legend, but I think this is entirely due to the rudder line stretch and rudder itself (these make it slow to steer out of a potential broach). Tighter steering rudder line plus a larger rudder (for waves over 5 feet) would solve this issue.
Thank you so much for letting me take the boat - I got a chance to try it out in all conditions I paddle in- it really made a difference to me as I want a boat that performs well in rough conditions.
- Bill L.
S16/S18 Touring Kayak
Last Saturday I met with Drew Harrison at the Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe store on the Columbia River to test paddle the Stellar S16 and S18. I weighed these boats with my bathroom scale, the S16 Advantage at 39 lbs and the S18 Excel at 34 lbs. The seats and back bands were comfortable and the 32" long cockpits made getting in and out a snap.
I then paddled these boats on the river south of the store. This is a no wake zone, with heavy power boat traffic. The current was approximately 2 mph with a good breeze blowing against it. The result was a mixed chop, which would have been very unsettling in my WSBS EFT. I found both boats to be very stable in these conditions. The S18 was slightly faster and the S16 was slightly more stable. The rudders on these boats did not work well and I could have used them in these conditions. These were 2010 models, they are switching to SmartTrack rudders and pedals for 2011. I would rate these two boats at a 9 out of 10 because of their rudders. I am placing an order for a 2011 S18 Excel.
I just had to email you. Last Thursday, I had one of the most enjoyable, and eye-opening paddling experiences, that I have not had in a long time. I paddled a Stellar SR Advantage surf ski.
Now, I am very familiar with the "Mako XT" surf ski, and the "EpicV-10 Sport", surf ski, so when I heard people talk about how stable, and how forgiving the Stellar SR was, I had to try it. I have a "Show me, I'm from Missouri" attitude, and don't believe all that I read. So I went and demo-ed the kayak.
The lines were aesthetically pleasing, the ski weighed 31 pounds, and easily carried to the water. I sat in it after a slight adjustment to the foot pedals, and off I went, as I stroked away from the dock. The seat was extremely comfortable and fit me very well at 5 "-10" and 205 pounds.
Within a minute or two, I was applying a "full on" power stroke, with my wing paddle. Can this be I asked myself. Me at 73years old, in a surf ski. My conclusion: I've got to have one.....still smiling. Best regards,
I really enjoy my Stellar S18 Advantege:-) I have been kayaking for 23 years, and the combination of weight/stability/speed is incredible! When my father tested my new kayak he had to buy one just like mine a couple of days later-WE LOVE STELLAR-KAYAKS!
- Hans-Petter Rustad
I received my SES and finally got to it this morning. Saying I am very pleased is an understatement! Bruce made arrangements with your driver Justin and the boat was dropped off to the Miami Rowing Club for me - could not have gone smoother. Boat was in perfect condition under the protective wrapping.
As for Wesley's blog and reviews(http://www.surfskiracing.com/), these are also is an understatement. Excellent quality and unexpected stability in a fast boat. Hope you can engage a top paddler to campaign the boat as the potential is huge.
With warmest regards,
- Geoff Pearson (Miami, Florida)
I am 5'-7" about 165 with short inseam as well. Felt like the fit of this boat for me is one of its major strengths. Also the stability, especially the secondary is exceptional. Had a nice session this morning doing my usual up and downwind route, feeling better aquainted with the nuances a new boat offers, and dialing in the personal fit in the cockpit with pads. I did a couple of flat water paddles initially in our estuaries and it seemed fast and very stable but in truth I really went with the boat for livelier water and was looking for a more stable platform in Hawaii's usual big water. I am 53 and very busy with work so was looking for a craft that worked well in the conditions I paddle in most of the time. She surfs well, I've had carbon boats previously so this advantage lay up feels heavier and takes a little more to bring up to surfing speed on runners but once up there's a nice momentum that feels solid for lack of a better description. I caught a long surfing wave coming back into the beach and she responded well, I think the shorter length is a big plus in fitting in steeper waves. Build quality and finish is excellent, feeling solid throughout. The one area I feel could use redesign is that going into the wind, the boat tends to slap on the way down after going over a wave or steep swell. I focused on it today and it seemed that the flatness of the hull about a 1/4 of the way from the bow caused this. Perhaps this feature helps with the great stability but its what I observed and the only area I would change. Overall I am very pleased with the boat and look forward to developing the unity with her that cultivates confidence and expression in varying conditions. We do have a super water community that can paddle year round here, I have a OC6 paddling program for Youth at Risk that has been very helpful in reconnecting the kids to their culture and steering them away from some painful and hardcore lessons. I've appreciated the kindredness of the paddling family that comes through in your writing and sharing. Be well and enjoy each moment on the water.
- Kelvin Ho
I have recently been able to spend some time on the Stellar SR (advantage layup) and on a Huki S1-R. To be fair I must admit that I am a kayaker by trade and have only started to paddle surfskis, so please take my views with a grain of salt!!
I just tried my new Red SR, great ski, did 1 hour with full power on, it has a lot more glide than my V8 and the quality of fittings is first class. This ski would suit anyone who has had some basic technique and wants a stable craft with speed. The footrest adjustment will suit any size paddler.
Well done Stellar.
- Gerry Foster
Thanks for the delivery of the mighty little S14S,took her for a spin this afternoon although was all gusty cross wind,she performed perfectly. I would describe as "playful" but with total stability,so was an enjoyable paddle so easy to turn with the short length and just the right amount of rocker. Handled the white water very well and gave a surprisingly dry ride with stability as well accelerated quickly from stationary and soon got a good turn of speed from the hull actually felt like a longer boat with the speed she produced. Seat was comfortable and the rudder was very responsive. I certainly would recommend the S14S ,with the ease of handling on and off the water with the cockpit side handles making carrying a breeze.
Yet another winner from Stellar,and can't wait to try her in smooth water and a warm day!
Best regards -
- Murray, New Zealand