I am managing a kayak club…
I am managing a kayak club with 30+ kayaks. The Stellar S18 kayak is the best kayak in our fleet of sea kayaks. Even paddlers who prefer British style kayaks with skegs have to admit that the Stellar S18 is remarkable.
The Stellar S18 is the fastest sea kayak I have paddled, and still it is very stable - anyone can paddle this kayak. You sit very comfortably, both if you are short and if you are tall. The distance from the bottom to the deck is perfect, giving you a great and relaxing position. You can easily roll with this kayak. The knee support is very good and comfortable. If you want to paddle actively, rotating your body and pushing hard with your feet, there is no problem lowering your knees enough to go clear of the knee support.
In strong winds and big waves, the only thing you will notice is that it goes slower against the wind - but that is only because of your own body catching the wind. I have paddled this boat in waves of up to six feet, and at no point this felt scary, even with the waves coming in from the side. You know that the boat can handle everything you throw at it, and you really feel you are beating the ocean.
The luggage capacity is great. You can pack equipment for long journeys, and the kayak still feels excellent when paddling.
If you fall out (which you won't, because it is really stable), it is easy to get into using buddy rescue. Getting in on your own is easiest if you have a paddle float. Cowboy rescue is not so easy because of the rudder, but you can get up from the side.
When you want to exercise, the kayak is light enough that you manage to keep your pace up - this is not the case with most sea kayaks! This is the only sea kayak in our fleet which is really great both for exercising and for touring.
I paddle this kayak using a wing paddle, which is great for this boat. Many of our members prefer European paddles, but that is a question of taste.
The Stellar S18 is two feet longer than the S16 and a bit narrower. This makes the S18 faster, but the stability is actually the same. The S16 is a brilliant boat, but the S18 is better. One small note, though: The S18 is only 54.7 cm / 21.5'' wide, whereas the S16 is 56.2 cm / 22.1''. Some of our members with a generous behind actually have trouble getting into the S18, and then the S16 will be better.
The Stellar S18 is a superb sea kayak for any paddler.
I purchased this kayak…
I purchased this kayak because it was very comfortable and light. However, after using it once in Casco Bay, I am extremely dissatisfied. Although it is a very fast boat, it is extremely unstable in waves.
I have owned several boats…
I have owned several boats but they have all been very stable. My favorite was and is my Tarpon 160 and I will always have it around.
I started paddling with a group of people who have composite sea kayaks. Needless to say, keeping up with them was a chore. After a lot of research, I bought the 18 S. The first few trips were interesting to say the least. I am tall with a high COG and many times thought I was in the water, only to not be there.
I use a Euro paddle and it 'sticks' frequently in this boat because I am a high angle paddler. Still considering a wing but I have modified my stroke more toward low angle. I had just been on a 2 month hiatus because of a back issue and took the ski out yesterday. Almost felt like an old friend. I am looking forward to our next trip.
One word, AMAZING! This boat…
One word, AMAZING! This boat is stable and very fast. I find myself having to wait on the group. The boat is put together very well and I love how they pull in the sides where you can use a clean high angle stroke with out bumping the boat. You can not find any faster and stable boat. I have the smart track rudder on my 2011 and it works well. the S18 Advantage edges and turns great with out the rudder as well!!!!!!!! 10 out of 10
Last Saturday I met with Drew…
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.