Since I wrote my first beginners review of the Stellar SR surfski a year ago, I’ve put my various SRs through more conditions than you could possibly imagine. I’ve taken them into wind-blown chop on Botany Bay, bounced around in the rebound off Sydney’s North Head cliffs, paddled a World Surfski Series race in the huge swell off Mauritius, paddled 111km down a long cold flat river, and surfed them on various waves and breaks including the green waves of Port Hacking, the rocky right-hander at the Bower in Manly and even the treacherous Le Morne pass in Mauritius.
I’ve also taken the journey from big, fat kayak paddler to a slightly smaller, fat surfski paddler, and all on the SR. I’ve learnt to stay on the ski in rough conditions, and I’ve learnt how to remount when I’ve come off. I’ve even learned how to catch ocean swell and barreling waves. So I think I know this surfski pretty well, and from the first time I started until now I still love it. It’s a surfski that is a real enabler – it enables bigger paddlers to get into surfskis, it enables paddlers to get out into rougher water, and it enables people to learn to surf.
The best way to describe it is to say it’s a genuine ocean ski with a big bucket and lots of secondary stability. It feels very similar to an Epic V10 Sport in terms of stability, although is easier to keep upright in the chop. It can go fast in the hands of the right paddler (anyone but me!), and surfs like an absolute dream.
In ocean chop and swell the secondary stability really kicks in and I think that is the single best aspect to the SR. This is a surfski that is incredibly forgiving and allows paddlers to worry less about swimming and more about really paddling hard for runs and waves. I’ve heeled the boat over a good 80 degrees, had water pouring into the bucket and yet with a decent brace managed to right myself and keep going. Few surfskis will do that (and pretty much none at the performance end of the spectrum).
In terms of ski fit-out, one of my favourite parts of the Stellar SR (and equally an area of annoyance) is the bucket. The SR has a huge bucket which perfectly accommodates my big arse. I’ve paddled the boat over 16 hours of an ultra-marathon and not had any issues with seat comfort, it’s that good. It does however hold a ship-load water when the cockpit floods, which can lead to stalling and takes a bit of time for the single venturi to empty. If Stellar ever redo the moulds I’d suggest finding ways to reduce the volume as well as find ways to drain it faster – perhaps a two-venturi set-up could be warranted.
Of all the surfski manufacturers I’ve seen, Stellar have surpassed them all with their footplate design. The three point system keeps the foot plate nice and secure, distributing the considerable of strain of big feet constantly bracing into it. My older SR used wingnuts to secure the adjustable footplate mounts on each side but the newer, clip-down system is much, much easier to use (and faster!), which is great when you have different paddlers trying the ski out.
There’s no doubt I love the Stellar SR – it’s a quality boat that makes the sport of surfski accessible to beginners and fatties alike. It handles rough water well, surfs like a dream, is constructed well and fit out even better. If you think it might be a boat for you, don’t just listen to me, get out and demo one and see what you think. And maybe I’ll catch you out amongst the waves someday! Cheers, FP
If you want to try a Stellar SR ski here in Sydney, contact Gavin from Slipstream Surf (based in Rose Bay) for a demo.
Slipstream Surf/Stellar HQ
5 wunulla Rd
Point Piper NSW 2027
PH 61 418 442 515
*DISCLAIMER: FatPaddler.com is sponsored by Stellar and gets access to their surfskis. That said, all thoughts in this piece are genuine and there is no doubt that I love my Stellar SR. Very few skis allow a big unit like me to take part in such an athletic sport, but the Stellar SR is an exception!
Here’s a video showing how good the Stellar SR surfs (in my white Stellar SR Advantage)
Here’s a video showing the SR in rough, choppy water (in my red Stellar SR Advantage)
And here’s a vid just showing some general fun in the surf (in my red Stellar SR Advantage)