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Submitted: 08-31-2012 by red_pepper
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If you're looking for an upgrade from a sea kayak, something faster, lighter, and more fun to paddle, but without a significant learning curve, the Stellar SR is probably your perfect boat. This light, fast, amazingly stable surf ski is probably the most enjoyable boat I've paddled – one that puts a smile on my face every time I paddle it.

Our SR is actually my wife's boat. She enjoyed her Think Fit, a sea kayak with a surf ski cockpit, but found the cockpit rim made a deep-water reentry very difficult for her. She also became frustrated with the very plumb bow that tended to catch all manner of leaves and weeds that populate our rivers in the fall, and with the difficulty she had in bouncing the bow enough to clear it. Also in the equation was a desire to find a lighter and faster boat – lighter, because she has limited upper body strength for lifting/carry a boat, and faster because... well... everyone wants to go faster! The final item that sent her on a hunt for a new boat, however, was a friend of ours who really, really wanted the Fit for racing USCA Sea Kayak class. Having a boat essentially sold without effort makes looking for a new one much easier!

We started our search looking at various sea kayaks and surf ski/sea kayak hybrids, but nothing quite hit the sweet spot. Then we looked at the Stellar line and she found exactly what she was looking for in the SR: at 19' long x 19" wide, the boat was a little narrower and a little longer than her Fit for better speed potential, the Excel Kevlar layup was only 25 lbs (compared to her 34 lb fiberglass Fit, which is actually pretty light itself), and the gently curved bow looked like it should ride over leaves and such, much like the Epic V10L I was paddling at the time. Plus it had all the advantages of a surf ski – great paddling ergonomics, easy entry/exit, and a self-bailing cockpit. Furthermore, Stellar boats have a superb 3-point foot plate with easy length adjustment – definitely the best I've seen on the market. With a bit of looking around, a former demo boat in the Excel layup and white color (my wife definitely wanted white!) showed up and found itself on the way to our house and to a new home.

Sometimes you don't get what you expect, but in this case the boat exceeded our expectations. It was indeed light, comfortable, and paddled superbly, running over leaves and weeds as though they weren't even there. It has the feel of a sports car – accelerating rapidly, running fast with a nice glide, and able to be leaned until water is just about coming into the cockpit. The design of the hull provides an unusual amount of secondary stability – something I had read about previously in reviews, but now experienced.

Even though I paddle narrower skis for racing, I find the extra stability of the SR makes it a tremendous amount of fun for playing in the waves of large lakes or the ocean without expending as much effort to stay upright. I was also surprised at how stout the boat felt, particularly for a 25 lb light layup. The work Stellar puts into crafting curves and raised areas in the deck really pays off in making a stiff boat (alongside the layup itself).

Other secondary items that were pleasant surprises included a very effective venturi with a plug (something that's nice to have on our Midwestern waterways in the winter), a built-in leash attachment point, and enough foot well width to allow me to paddle in the winter with neoprene boots! Most surf skis have fairly narrow foot wells, and I can barely get my wide feet into the foot well with thin paddling shoes, much less the boots.

I think everyone who's paddled our SR has loved it, but perhaps the best recommendation from me is to note that after seeing and paddling my wife's SR, I sold my other boats and bought a carbon Stellar SE Ultra for my race boat (another awesome surf ski, but that's for another review…).

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