Read reviews for the Stellar 18' Surf Ski (S18S) by Stellar Kayaks and Surfskis as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
It felt so good to be back out on some glassy water, checking out all the beautiful water birds. I told my GF that this has always been like a meditation for me!! Some background, I used to kayak, waveski & surfski in the 70's but moved on to windsurfing & surfing again. Now at 66 I have the paddling bug again!
This 18 footer is a dream to carry, sit in and paddle. I have the "Advantage" layup (35 lb) and it is effortless to pick up and move. In the water this thing glides so easily that you can either set up a workout or sit back against the bucket back (very comfortable) and just cruise.
I had been looking for a kayak but found that my arthritic knees didn't agree with scrunching up to enter the cockpit.... so SOT, but which one? The new hybrid surfskis are a great answer as mine has two bulkheads, two hatches, tiedowns behind the bucket and adjustable foot braces / steering.
To say that I'm happy with the purchase is an understatement.
The ski is good, stable & forgiving. At 60yrs old getting wet in winter is not fun. Like others, a mid handle for carrying is the only thing missing & yes I have dropped it damaging the front.
All in all a fun ski & as other have said a great alternative to sea kayak or SOT
Stellar states that they strive for especially stable boats. They did definitely nail that part. I hadn't paddled a boat under 22" at the beam in some time and after an initial second or two of twitchiness I calmed down and fell right into a calm and stable rhythm with her. The stability was definitely on the boat side at least as much as my balance. It's not hard to get comfortable in this ski quickly. It was also my first time using a Winged Paddle (yep -- learning 2 new things at once -- figured I'd get it all over with up front). 11 mph winds out of SSW on the Indian River Lagoon. Moderate chop. I did not swim once. I almost should have just to practice re-entry and will have to do that if she never does toss me.
Build quality is VERY good and so is the price of these ski's, especially the model I picked. All the fittings and the finish were flawless. Everything hardware-wise was perfect. Just great craftsmanship.
My one and only gripe (and this may be just the nature of surf skis that you have to deal with) is that it's definitely slippery when wet and you really have to figure out where to grab her. No cockpit area grab-spots or handles. I may rig something because I definitely don't want to drop her.
Speed: Lots and lots and lots of speed. Leans well and secondary stability is ROCK SOLID.
I will be using this boat to cross-train and fitness paddle in and will start doing some distance this weekend. Yep!
This past week I tested it against my 18X, and my V-10. I can attest with confidence that I like it better in most regards than the Epic 18X. The fit and finish is excellent, and the features that it has is unheard of in any surf ski's that i have found.
The performance is the best part! It glides very well, and the steering is the best that i have ever paddled. Obviously its very fast as Joe Zellner won last year's MR 340, and the Dakota challenge with one. I do not expect to win this year's MR340 on it, yet I can't wait to paddle it on this incredible race.
Kudos to Stellar Kayaks for building such a wonderful product.
At 18' long x 21" wide, with a rounded hull, the S18S possesses a great combination of speed and stability. Designed to fit the requirements of the USCA Sea Kayak class, the S18S will run with the fastest sea kayaks on the market, yet the stability will make the boat comfortable to most kayakers. If you can paddle most sea kayaks, you should have no problem paddling this boat. I do have to warn you, however, that you're used to paddling a standard sea kayak, and not a surf ski, the openness of a "sit on top" boat will feel strange at first. Many sea kayakers are used to holding their knees against the top of the cockpit – something you can't do in a surf ski! What you will find, however, is that getting in and out of the S18S is far easier than any normal sea kayak – simply straddle the boat and sit down! Likewise, if you do fall out of the boat for any reason, reentry is as easy as it gets for any boat. Plus, there's no need to pump water out of the cockpit, etc. – simply pull the plug on the venturi bailer, paddle, and any water in the cockpit area is sucked out!
Some of the neat features of the boat include two large hatches to carry lots of gear – a first for the hybrid surf ski/sea kayaks. There's also a water bottle holder in the cockpit, a leash attachment point, handles at each end of the boat, a plug for the bailer (a nice feature when you aren't in rough water and don't want to start with a cockpit full of water), the best footplate/rudder pedal system on the market (a very stout 3-point attachment system and quick-released latches making adjustment easy and rapid), and 3 rudder options: a long under-stern surf rudder for surfing the waves on big water, a shorter weedless rudder for calmer water and shallower /weedy areas, and an over-stern kick-up rudder that can be swapped in quickly for those rivers and such with underwater obstacles.
The layups available in the S18S go from around 36 lbs down to 27 lbs; all are far lighter than most sea kayaks, really easing the load when it comes time to carry the boat or put it on top of your car. In spite of the light weight, the S18S is a very solidly built boat. The various curves and ridges in the deck and the layup of the hulls give the boats an unusual feel of solidity without compromising lightness.
As a surf ski paddler, I find most sea kayaks feel like barges to me. Their full decks generally interfere with a good paddle stroke, and I sort of feel lost inside cockpits. The seating isn't generally all that comfortable to me, either, and tends to inhibit good rotation in the paddle stroke. The S18S, on the other hand, has the sporty feel of a surf ski, but with the super confidence-building stability of a sea kayak – just the thing for tackling windy and wavy water! I found the cockpit to be quite comfortable, and the open surf ski design allows for good paddling ergonomics. This is a boat that's equally at home cruising across flat water or surfing waves on the ocean.
I was immediately impressed by the S18S on my first paddle (I have an Advantage layup boat, spec'd at 35.3 lbs). I thought "wow – this boat really feels good, and it's fun!" The hull speed was surprisingly fast - I can comfortably cruise this boat in the mid-6's, and sprint up to around 8 mph (I took it to the USCA Nationals to race Sea Kayak class, and came in 3rd overall – my best placement at the Nationals to date). The S18S turns well, and you can lean it until water is about to come into the cockpit. The secondary stability is particularly sweet, since there aren't any surprises – just a very smooth, linear feel as you increase the lean on the boat. At a recent lakeside gathering of friends with various paddling abilities, I brought along the S18S for everyone to try, and even those with very little paddling experience found it easy to get comfortable in the 18S and found it to be a lot of fun. The more experienced paddlers had a blast with the boat! Later, 3 paddling friends and I took the S18S out onto one of our larger lakes when the waves were kicking up, and found the boat handled superbly in the chop. Two foot beam waves were no problem - just fun, and heading downwind it picks up the waves to surf with ease.
I normally paddle/race high performance surf skis, and I appreciate the sense of connection you have to a boat that responds rapidly and crisply to your inputs. The S18S has a very similar feel, but in a stable package that opens up the surf ski world to a broad range of paddlers, without compromising the versatility of a sea kayak. A solid "10" in my book!