Question regarding long races in Surfskis

I’ve heard that people win long races like MR340 in boats like the Stellar SR. Is this true, and are there common modifications to help with comfort? I bought a Stellar SR a couple of months ago and I love it. I didn’t buy it because of that note, I found out afterward.

I paddle it in about 40 miles/week on flatwater and feel comfortable in it. My typical route is 13 miles, about 2 1/2 hours per session at the moment. My goal is to do MR340 next year but I wonder how people are able to do it in a boat like this. I’m a newer paddler but my back does get tired, the stability doesn’t allow you to totally relax, and butt/glute soreness does exist.

My choice would be a Stellar S18R to allow more back support and more stability. The issue is that I’m married and I would need to buy her one as well which I can’t afford. Kind of sucks because that order goes in soon and won’t be in until next Spring which means I’ll have to wait a few more seasons. I actually was going to get a tandem (ST21) because I could afford that instead but my dealer says it won’t fit on their truck. Pretty bummed, so that’s that.

This leads me back to my original thought. What kind of things do people do to make it more friendly to longer miles? Is that true, do people win long races in boats like this?


You could buy an S18S and she could use that or vice versa. A lot of it is bucket time and also core strength so upping those will help. I got this summer so I could paddle my Nelo 550L which is similar stability to the SR, for 5 hours at a time without stopping, but there is no substitute for seat time. An S18S will allow you to relax more from the twitchiness but you’ll lose a little speed which may be worth it.

I think you can fit a backband in the S18S, not sure about the SR. I put an Epic backpad in my Nelo and that helped, but the back of the bucket is a different shape than the SR. Since you are sitting down in the S18R that may not be as compforable, even though the hull is the same, so you’d really have to try it. It would be hotter as the S18R is less open than the S18S. You can put a seat pad in but I have not felt the need in my Nelo as it fits me well, you might also see if a different brand fits you better, the Nelo and Think Fit, Zen and Ace fit me better than Stellar and Epic but others say the opposite.

– Andrew

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The MR340 is not an easy race, regardless of the boat you’re in ( I know, I’ve done it). There is a fine line between going fast and therefore obviously finishing faster, and being comfortable. The fastest boats are usually in the high 30s in terms of hours, which means paddling essentially without stopping. For a lot of paddlers though, a little slower boat will actually mean a faster time, because as you alluded to, a really fast boat can absolutely destroy your core, especially as you get more tired.

Your best bet for this question is really on the 340 facebook page. It’s pretty active, with a lot of the top finishers on there answering questions. Another interesting source of info is the forum. If you go to the forum home page, the first topic in the general 340 section is a comprehensive record of finishes. You can look at every year, or just the records, or finishes by boat. The Stellar S18R has finished 8 of 10 attempts, and the S18S is 33 of 42.

I’d call Stellar direct if you’re thinking about the ST21. I’m having a hard time believing your dealer can’t get you one because it’s “too long”.

Anyway, good luck, and maybe I’ll see you in the 340 next year!

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Thanks for the reply and S18S recommendation. I have test paddled the S18R briefly so I do know what that’s like. But I agree… I think the S18S may be a better choice. I need to get the wife to agree to let me buy one for myself and I’ll likely go that route.

Oh my gosh, it does look very hard. I do have a lot of experience in endurance sports but I am not at all going to underestimate such a thing. I am familiar with a slower boat likely is faster which is why I am looking at more options. That’s where I ran into the financial bit and began looking at ways to improve what I have (myself and the SR). We’ll see what happens.

I’ll check out rivermiles, thanks!

Yeah, so I was told there isn’t enough room on the truck coming out west for the next spring delivery for the ST21 by my dealer.

The forums at have a lot of advice for first timers (and 10 timers)!

As others said - seat time. A lot of it. A very strong core (from a lot of seat time).

That said, the SR is extremely stable for a 19" boat (due to its huge flat spot on the bottom).

Tandem kayaks dont have great resale value, so you may look around on the forums / craigs for a tandem kayak. You can probably find one over the winter, especially if you put out a couple WTB’s.

MC makes a good point above about used tandems. There are several decent tandems (I don’t think any ST21s) in the classifieds. If you give us a ballpark location we can be on the lookout for you if you’d like!

ps - there’s a used S18R for sale on rivermiles that looks to be in great shape ( as well as a westside bullet tandem

I have always preferred a sit in kayak for really long races, especially flatwater.

It is not about the seat or back support, it is about being able to move your feet around a little. Surfskis have no place to do that and it tends to make my feet get all pins and needles.

If you are set on trying a surfski, my recommendation would be the Think brand. Their seats are a lot more comfortable than any other ski. It might be because they have a smaller hump than most other skis.

Sometimes you can go faster, in the long run, in a slower boat

I’ve done the Everglades Challenge 300 miler eight times in an Epic 18x. I also have a V12 and a V8Pro ski. For races where you need to pack a full expedition load, the lack of hatches in a ski is an issue. I like a hard glass seat for rotation, but my butt is horribly bruised if I don’t add padding after 100 miles or so. I use a thermarest foam pad with a thin teflon sheet on top to allow comfort and permit rotation. If you train with a number of 30 milers you will quickly discover where you chafe, hurt and suffer, and modify accordingly, and will need to discover what solutions work for you.

Normally in my 18X I don’t touch my backrest, but there are occasions after multiple days when my core is fried, that I tighten up my backrest for support and enjoy the support, although it always means some blisters due to torso rotation (lower back rubbing across the backrest). I cover my backrest with teflon, but if you lean on it, and rotate, you will chafe painfully.

One advantage of a ski is that you can put your legs overboard for stability, but you are more exposed to sun and rain, as compared to a sit-in with a skirt. That said, it can be done. Carter Johnson has raced a ski multiple times at the EC300 and MR340. Google him or check or and

Greg Stamer

For chaffing, try using a cycling chamois cream. I use the Body Glide Balm for cycling and paddling for longer distances. I like it because it not as messy as the usual chamois cream.