Surf ski help. Stellar SEL or SEI

So I’m ready to pull the trigger on a surf ski. In my area I was only able to try out the Stellar S18S which I found to have secondary stability even better than my Tempest. The thing I’m wondering is what to expect from the SEL. I know it will be less stable but by how much. For example is it possible to sit still in the SEL for a rest break or is a paddle brace always necessary to keep it upright. I paddle in confused water alot and in the Tempest it’s a breeze but is this going to be especially challenging with the SEL? how much more stable is the SEI at an inch wider?

Thank for your help!


Never paddled one but…
I think I can safely say it’s going to be a very big difference from what you’ve paddled before. I went from a QCC600, which I thought was pretty skinny, to a WSBS Thunderbolt and when I first sat in it I didn’t think I’d ever be able to keep it upright. From a “tippy” standpoint it was a whole 'nother league from what I’d been in before. From what I’m told the Thunderbolt has similar stability to something like an Epic V10. In comparison the V8, which I think is similar to the Stellar 18s, feels like you could stand up a do a little dance in it.

After paddling it at least 3-4 times/week for a couple weeks I started to get pretty comfortable in it. By the time I sold it I was very comfortable and wind and waves were no concern. I think I would have gotten comfortable quicker had it been a surf ski since there’s less of a penalty for tipping.

As long as you’re willing to put in some time I’m sure you can get comfortable with it.


i paddled an sei
Yesterday. It’s a bit tender, but pretty stable secondarily. It’s going to feel very different than the 18 and better than the sel. Another option is the SR. I really like the SR, but in comparison the SEI feels similar.

I just started paddling an SEL this summer. Last year was my first season on a ski which was a Fenn Swordfish, after years in a QCC700 I thought the transition to a ski would not be that difficult but I was wrong. I was surprised at how “tippy” the ski was but was determined to become comfortable in the “bucket”, for I wanted to compete is some of the local surfski races here in the Northeast US. After a season and a half I’ve become fairly comfortable on a ski, however I have put in many hours training. I find the SEL almost as stable as the Swordfish and fairly comfortable to paddle.

While feeling unstable and a few close calls I have never fallen off the ski outside launching in surf, which I am still not that comfortable with.

Yes you can rest without bracing in light chop but this will take a while. When I first started on the Swordfish I had trouble reaching down to turn on my Garmin but have no problems now.

If you are not going to be able to get on the water several days a week, I would suggest the SEI, however if you can get on the water a few hours plus every week during season go for the SEL.

Good luck.

It should also be said that at this stage in the game you aren’t likely to see a big speed increase when you go to a faster ski. Besides being more timid since you’ll be worried about tipping over it takes a lot of training and proper mechanics to put out the speed the big guys do.

When you sprint you’ll find it much faster but your long range average (6 miles) will be disappointing and probably not much faster than what you can do now. I trained what I thought was pretty hard for about 1 1/2 years in my Thunderbolt and don’t know if I was even a middle pack paddler at that point. I could do 6.7mph on flatwater for 6+ miles. When I first got the boat I could do about 5.7mph. I could sprint it to around 8mph and hold it over 7 for a while but I was amazed how much strength that took and have a whole new respect for paddlers that can average those speeds.

The boats have speed available for the taking but it doesn’t come free.


This is falling out where I expected it to. I’m thinking the SEI is going to be my best bet. I can appreciate the statement about being leary to reach down and turn on a GPS. Thats a bit too tippy for me I think. I’m thinking the SEI or V10 Sport is going to be the boat for me. I was a little surprised that my speed wasn’t that much faster for the S18S over the Tempest. Its all about the engine and tecnhique, I understand that. Thanks for all the info, you’ve definitly helped me alot!!


Technique and tippy
I think you’re on the right track. My form improvement was held back by jumping to a really fast and skinny hull right out of the gate. Instead of working on the “proper” stroke I adopted one that allowed me to feel more comfortable in the boat. During my second season in the boat I was feeling more comfortable and finally learned a more proper stroke, but by then I had lots of bad habits to unlearn.

But I also understand that having a really fast and sexy boat is alluring. If I were to start over again I’d have a hard time working my way incrementally through boats.


ski safety
dialing in your remount from both sides will make you more relaxed and thus LESS likely to need to use it. It also lets you get more aggressive and progress faster.

Dress for swimming not paddling at least to start with. A few failed remounts in cold water can leave you exhausted and unable to stay upright if you are too cold.

The faster you paddle a ski the more stable it is,especially in chop. If you are interested in racing, look for clinics. Technique improvement is the only free speed in this sport.

I found that out paddling the S18S. You get real intimate with sitting in water. But I actually seem to like the exposed feeling more than I thought I would. I think its because I know if I roll it its not going to fill with water like a sea kayak. I’ve had nightmares of pumping out a sea kayak in bad weather but fortunately its never happened.

I think the both the SEL and the SEI are pretty sexy!!

Thanks for the info!!

Lot of Good Advice Here
However, if you’ll be coming to all stops many a times during your paddle, and there arn’t too many big fish around to nibble on your foot, I’d select a ski, which I can dangle my feet over the side very easily. You may have problems doing this with a deep seated ski? So go test them out with this purpose in mind before you buy. Most of the older generation “spec” skis allow you to do this all the time when stopped in turbulent water.


– Last Updated: Sep-21-14 10:54 AM EST –

Let me start off by saying that I've not paddled the SEI, although I have wanted to for comparison's sake, for some time. I've owned the SEL (and the SE as well). It's a terrific boat, albeit with some caveats... The pluses:

As an elite boat, it's stability curve is probably within the confines of intermediate boats. While the initial is a little low, the secondary stability is pure joy, building linearly and confidently to the point where you think: "I'd have to do something really stupid to fall out of this ski." It's outstanding in confused washing machine-style chop, and in beam waves-just keep the hammer down. it'll see you through. I owned the Ultra layup, and even with its faster roll rate, it was incredible. Crazy light, too, at about 23 lbs.

It's fast. While not as out and out quick as a V12/14, Elite/Glide, SES, Uno Max, etc., if you're not an elite level paddler (Few are.), then what you give up in tenths of a second on the flat, will more than be made up in textured water.

It surfs well-sits on a wave beautifully, and is very controllable linking runs, riding wash, or hanging on a large boat's wake. It'll feel a little loose at times, but let it have its way and it will see you through. Remounts are extremely easy with the low side rails.

The layup and finish was flawless. In the carbon black/yellow iteration, it's downright sexy as hell-people would compliment me all the time on it, when it was both on the roof and in the water. The footbrace is awesome with the three point locking system-no creaks or flex whatsoever. Now the cons:

The catch is wide. I acclimated to this fairly quickly. This was most noticeable when swapping boats with someone else-it needs cutaways.
The cockpit volume is cavernous. I feel the horizontal tracks of the footbrace assembly take up an unnecessary amount of room, requiring a wider footwell than need be. This translates to lots of footwell space to take on water. The length of the foot tracks is unbelievable-Manute Bol could paddle this boat and probably have a few detents left on the rails. Not good in dumping waves, even with a drinking bladder stored forward of the footplate. Water has quite a bit of mass-why would you want to carry gallons of it around? Most owners devise some way to fill the extra space with minicell.

Draining is so, so. Unless you're moving, it feels like you're going down. It's slow to drain, even with the venturi bullets.The bucket, similarly, is so, so. It's much better than the SE, but word has it the SEI bucket fits better still.

My main bone of contention with the SEL was its turning ability in high winds. While it surfs like a champ, it does not like to turn. I can't tell if it's rudder placement, the Spectra cable stretch and the fact that the current pedal/cable setup invites constant slippage, or the rudder blade design itself. I tried mine with the big surf rudder and it was no better, more drag with no improvement in turning circle-it turns like a truck. Peruse the message boards-most Stellar owners modify the pedals immediately-either tying off the lines, or affixing backing plates to prevent line slippage. Going over to Q-Power line helped a bit, but it's a definite Achilles of this boat. In high winds, leave it home and take something else, preferably something with stainless lines like a Fenn or a Huki.

In a nutshell-potentially great boat. I'd like to see them make these needed adjustments/changes. They would make an already very good ski, well, stellar.