Fast lightweight kayaks

I’ve been looking at some of the faster light weight kayaks, mostly because I think they would be fun. Ability to use them for a multi day trip is a big bonus, but not really the primary thing. I have other boats after all.
I’ve really been looking at the Epic 18x and the sport version, preferably the 2019 version or earlier with the integrated rudder rather than the over stern, along with the Stellar S18R. Both are hard to find on the used market and since I don’t actually plan to compete, I don’t want to spend the +/- $4k on new. The epic’s I’ve seen tend to be on the east coast, private sales that understandably don’t want to bother with the shipping and they are rare.
I have possibly found a stellar within about 350 miles though. Hoping to hear back.
I was wondering about people that paddled them. I’ve read reviews, watched videos and done what I can for a boat that I can’t lay my hands on to try out.
One thing I’ve noticed is the Stellar has no real bow volume and goes through the waves rather than over them, again because it’s built for speed. The epic seems to have decent touring properties, but the stellar I’m less sure of. These are rudder boats, but do these edge really? Open water racing and day to day paddling have different turning needs. Not really something mentioned in the reviews and I want to make sure that I don’t buy a fast boat that only really has manors and is manageable in open water cruising. I want to just get out and paddle, be able to handle some weather, hopefully be able to practice rolls. Hoping for insight from people that use these boats.


I was at Stellar Dealer Univ. today and got to examine and sit in the S18R for a bit. It shares the same hull as the S18S surfski so if you can find one of those locally that should give you a good representation of what the hull will do. I’ve had fun with the Ski version and found that I can put some edge to it but the contact is a cockpit would allow for more. It is still designed as a ruddered boat firstly. The S18 has more of a feel like the Impex Force series and has better abilities on edge turns. Fast but not the same potential top end speed of the S18S hull.

With the understern rudder I have been impressed as to how nimble the S18S is on pivoting to pick up on wakes for surfing.

Hope the ramblings provide some insight.

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I appreciate the insight.
Nowhere around here to lay hands on a ski either.
Actually if there were people into ski’s and kayaks like these I could really get some first hand insight and maybe lay my hands on some examples of the type of boat I want.
Probably the closest opportunity would be one of the annual paddle events with the various manufacturers represented out near the coast in spring. I remember two or three years ago in Vancouver Washington epic had a couple ski’s there.

Can’t help with the Stellar but I have an Epic 18X Sport and it certainly fits your criteria if you can find one. There’s one on ebay for “only” $3k, Wisconsin. Its the lighter weight, more delicate Ultra layup.

Didn’t know they changed the rudder.

I am kinda stuck on the 18x. Not sure if it’s just because that’s me and sometimes I just get a thought in my head of what I want or if its because of more sound judgement! lol
They have gone to the standard large deployable rudder, which means it’s never really not there. It’s in the water or being a sail, like all other rudders.
$3k plus shipping is a bit out of my comfort zone for a used boat I don’t get to look at. If it comes to that I’ll probably order new, although I have been looking in the $2600 range at some of the ones I can’t connect on. $400 isn’t a big difference, but you have to draw the line somewhere and say if I’m paying that I’m going to throw on another $1500 for new and probably have shipping paid by the store.

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The Westside EFT might also fit you. They are great boats and you can almost nap in it, like the 18x.

The first generation 18x had an over the hull rudder. Then they went to that molded in model.

When they found out that the molded model was almost worthless in big water, they added a retracting skeg to it. That means that you need to keep that clean, a little debris can clog it.

That is certainly more of the history of the boat than I knew!
Presumably because of the way it handles in big water they have done away with the integrated rudder for this year and it’s over the stern again.
I don’t expect to be in those sorts of seas so I’m looking for the integrated with the drop down extension.
I may have located one in the Ultra layup, but I though that a couple other times. Far far away, but it’s a demo boat at a dealer so hoping things come together for shipping and all.
Hoping anyway!

Not sure if you’re absolutely set on a sit inside fast kayak, but if you’re open to surfski’s you can find some pretty good deals here:

If you have any questions about ski’s I may be able to help

I actually have thought about a ski, but having never paddled one I really don’t know if it’s something I want. I know both the Epic 18x and the Stellar S18R have hulls very similar, and use the foot board and rudder, but I do want to paddle one before thinking about them as an option. My understanding is that Ski’s tend to be awesome in ocean currents and waves where they race them, but I’ve never seen them used otherwise. My paddling tends to be mid sized lakes, often busy with motor boats. The big lakes I hit are Coeur D’Alene which is about 50 square miles or Pend Oreille which is about 150 square miles and near a quarter mile deep, mostly lakes that are less than 10 miles across and although I will take some coastal trips with a kayak, they will involve hitting an island to camp so not ski trips. Still, I think for hitting the water and busting out a few miles a ski might be great, I just need to paddle one first.
I believe I have a handle on a brand new 18x sport in the ultra layup, last years model so it has the integrated rudder rather than the over the stern variety. Great price but in East Texas so still figuring out how to get it here.
I am going to make paddling a ski a goal so I can figure out if one of those fits into the mix for me.

Coeur D’alene is a beautiful lake.

The hulls of skis and sea kayaks are basically interchangeable.

I have a ski I use specifically for touring with two bulkhead/hatches. In some ways the ski has a benefit with touring, because you won’t need to stow the same amount of safety gear.

If you get a chance, I’d highly recommend giving them a try. Most people I know who have done both usually stick with a ski.

The real difference is in the cultures–not so much the boats.

Skis with a lot of rocker are better on big water. Flat keeled skis are more for flat water.

The Epic V-8 is an 18x with a ski deck.

If you want to think about skis that is a good beginning. Another is the Fenn XT. There are others that also make good beginners models. Think and Stellar both have them.

The ride to East Texas is a hard one at this time. Hotels and restaurants are so hard to deal with right now. Wish you luck.

Well it looks like I’ve got a new last years model 18x sport in the ultra layup arriving Monday, so I do appreciate everyone’s thoughts on the subject.
Can’t tell you how excited I am about it!

Congratulations! That is a beautiful boat!

Thanks! Now it’s the part where I go nuts until I get it Monday and still have to wait until after work Tuesday to get it wet! lol I’m feeling pretty excited about finding exactly what I wanted.

Congrats! And regarding your multi-day trips, 18x’s hold plenty of gear. Maybe I missed it but the few surf skis that I’ve seen didn’t seem to have hatches.

Btw my 18x seat drove me nuts. Got a foam replacement from redfish.

Yep, that’s one of the reasons I really wanted the 18x, or possibly the stellar s18r. Fast, light and can be used on multi day trips.
A ski could have been ok for just paddling and I have other boats for trips, but I really had my heart set on the epic.
I’ve also been picking up some backpacking gear to give me more minimal space and weight options.
Buying a nice boat this late in the year means my dry suit is going to be earning its keep this winter!