Stellar Introduces New 18S Surfski, 18R Performance Sea Kayak

Review Update of 18R by Joe Zellner, Winner of the Dakota 72 Mile Race.

 June 1, 2012

Here are my thoughts on the S18R in Excel  layup.  When I first saw the boat all I could think was “Wow, what a fast, pretty boat. I always liked the color orange. Going over the boat, the gel coat was perfect, both top and bottom. The inside was also perfect with no fiberglass slivers in my hands or any limbs. Setting the foot pegs was fast and easy. Your three point hook-up is one of the best in the industry. I like the way the heel plate comes all of the way down to actually hit your heels, most just have a bar across and your heels don’t really rest on it. Your system makes driving the boat that much greater in the 18R.

 The seat is okay, since I have a small bony butt I have to run pads. I have had other people sit in the boat and they liked the seat, – hence, bigger butts. The back band does its job. I don’t use it much it just holds my back in place.

 The deck lines and bungees are set fine for my use. The hatch covers are fast and easy to get into. Since I haven’t had much experience with rubber covers, I hope they hold up over time.

 I have taken the handles off because I didn’t want them getting caught in a wave as I was surfing and I don’t need them because the boat is light and easily handled.


 My first training run was a 10:20 mile run with 6 to 10” waves and a 10 mph wind. My GPS had me at 1:33:58 for time with a 6.5 avg. and a max of 7.1. The boat didn’t seem to want to jump out of the chute fast but it did get up to cruising speed quickly.

 My second run time was 1:34:49 with avg speed of 6.5 and a max of 7.0 with the same milige, and wind conditions. It bothered me that the boat wasn’t much faster than my 18X but it is a much more comfortable boat. I have issues with the X, especially with the foot pegs.

I then started playing with weights in the front end to try to trim the boat out. On my way out to South Dakota Challenge, I was talking to John Abrahams and told him my concerns about the trim.  I got a call back from him and he told me how to move the seat forward. Most people don’t care or don’t know about trimming a boat so that you get the maximum speed out their boat. I was hesitant to change anything on the boat because I knew how the boat handled the way it was set up. I did end up changing the seat and will say that it was a real pain to do but after I did that and finally got the pegs set again the boat gained another .1 mph in speed. I haven’t done a training run with the boat trimmed this way so I can’t give you the speed yet. By changing the seat the boat seemed to come alive and the handling seemed much better.

 Now we’ll get to the best part. I entered the South Dakota Challenge, a 72 miler on the Missouri River. The race had 170 participants with about 50 to 60 boats in the competitive field. In this field it ranged from OC2’s to double K1’s ,single ski’s to racing canoes both singles and doubles. The field was all over the place.

When the gun went off, I jumped out front and lead the pack out. The current at this point was mute as we had a head wind of 20 knots. The wind never let up for the next 72 miles. For about 50 miles you had to search out the faster water. The river opens up with sand bars everywhere. The last 20 miles was more channelized and had a little faster water. In this last part there were also a lot more motor boats, most of them were big cruisers with more wake. The boat literally just ate the waves; it seemed that when it saw a wave it charged them. The performance of this boat is phenomenal. My time for this race was 8 hours and 50 minutes, with an avg. speed of 8 mph and a max of 10. I beat the old record by 1 hr. and 16 min. The next boat was an OC2 and they were about 1 hour behind me.

 You guys have done a superb job with this boat. The way the boat handles and performs is fantastic. You also thought of the little things that that most overlook.

 My only complaint at this point is the seat. As I said earlier, I have a small bony butt and have to find the right set of pads to keep me from getting sore and to stop me from moving. Moving the seat was a pain but you only need to do it once so it really isn’t a huge issue. The last thing is the cockpit rim needs to be just a little wider as some of the waves did sneak under the skirt. Maybe just add a ¼ of an inch would help. This would also help the skirt stay on better. These are very small issues that can be worked out in time.

 I can’t wait to get the boat out in some 4 to 6 foot waves and see how it handles surfing Lake Superior water.

 I will be doing the MR340 again this year and am just pumped about the boat. I already have a target on my back but with this boat they won’t even be able to catch me, Period!

 I’m not one to sugar coat anything, but all that I can say is “its one hell-of- a boat”. The S18R will be the boat to beat!

 Thanks’  Joe Zellner

Joe Zellner

553 CR. 6

Grand Marais,MN. 55604


18S Surfski, 18ft X 21 inches




18S Surfski


Initial Review.

Stellar announces the New Stellar 18′ Surf Ski (S18S). This boat is a
cross-over and promises to have broad appeal to those aspiring racers and
surf ski paddlers and those who also want the versatility and capacity of a
touring boat. The S18S is designed to be an entry level Surf Ski, yet still
a capable racer if so desired. The hull of the S18S is the same to that of
the S18R, so it is a very fast boat with great secondary stability and
compliant with the USCA Fast Sea Kayak rules. The S18S comes standard with
an under-stern rudder, but is also outfitted with steering and rudder tubes
to accept and over stern rudder for those who paddle in shallow waters.

Several weeks ago I time trialed the brilliantly designed 18R sea kayak on one of my
time trial courses, 10.8 miles. My last 5.5 miles downwind leg, I average
7.026 mph. That is screaming fast in a sea kayak and an excellent time even
compared to some of my skis on this course. I have done this GPS course 243
times mostly in skis. This was after paddling upwind for 5.5 miles. I was at
84% of Heart Rate for the entire 11 miles. This was my first time in a sea
kayak in many years so as I get it dialed in I will be even faster. This
prototype model did not have a full footplate in it. The production models
will have the a full footplate for excellent leg drive and greater speeds.

The Stellar 18′ Surf Ski (S18S) has the same hull shape so will be just as
fast or faster than the 18R sea kayak. I will be time trialing the 18S in
March. It will be available in the 4 layups that Stellar offers from
27lbs(12.5kg), 28.7lbs, 35.3lbs, and 36lbs. Now Stellar offers 6 different
surfski models(SE,SEL,SES,SR, 18S, SE2) along with the lighting fast, 18R which is the next generation performance sea kayak.

Stellar 18R Next Generation Performance Sea Kayak


18R at McCorrie Point


18R Time Trial on Sakonnet River





About Wesley

Top 10 finisher Blackburn Challenge(20 miles) 2009-2011;Participated since 2003; Race Series-2nd place finisher 2010,2011; 2009 Website orginated; 2009,1st person to produce Surf ski informational DVD; 2009,1st person to produce comprehensive Surf ski Comparison Chart; 2005, BCU/ACA Certified Level 3 w/4star training,Open Ocean(both expired); 2004, Participated World Indoor Rowing Championships(Crash B's) since 2004. 2012 Indoor Rowing Foundations 8 Hour Certification Course 1998 Boston Marathon 1997 Baystate Marathon, qualified for Boston Marathon 1997 Vermont City Marathon 1996 Newport Marathon 1983-1991 U.S. Navy - 1st place in in Squadron and Command Physical Fitness Test(sit-ups, pushups, run). 1969-1991 played countless hours of basketball. Work: Pharmaceutical Sales after my 8 years in U.S. Navy