Stellar SEI 2G Independent Review

4 years 6 months ago #27732 by portmanm
Stellar South Coast NSW, Australia lent me the latest SEI in Advantage layup to demo @ Wollongong.

4 hours, 40+km in the bucket in different conditions including a 10km wild downwind. I've got a SEI 1G Excel in the garage but paddle the new SEL 2G Excel pretty much all the time, see my bio in the signature below.

Pros

- build quality has improved, the seam is outstanding and colours now included within the mould by the looks of things, no more over-spray
- narrower catch than 1G
- stable intermediate ski
- snugger comfortable seat than 1G
- catches the runs no problems and responsive rudder control
- bomb proof 3-point footplate
- handles bow, stern and middle for easy handling
- thought the handles in the middle may catch things trying to re-mount, no issues

Cons
- footplate adjustments continue to be clunky. I've got 3 Stellars in the shed & demo alot of models, can be frustrating compared to other brands
- rudder adjustments are frustrating, cord and tying knots don't allow for fine tuning, look at other brands systems
- Personally, not a big fan of drink bottle underneath your legs, prefer infront of footplate or bladder in PFD. I use this spot to store my leg leash, always on board
- no hose notch in the footplate to allow a forward hydration system to be installed easily

You may argue the cons are minor & once you set the ski up once you'll be fine.

General feedback from others who've tried the new ski are all positive. Those who disliked the seat in the original are pleasantly surprised.

Like to hear from others who paddle Stellars.

Bio
- 90kg, 183cm, paddling 90+% in ocean conditions for 5 years. Prefer downwind.
- Epic V12 1G, V10 1G/2G, V10 Sport, V8 & V8 Pro
- Stellar SEI 1G/2G, SES 1G/2G, SEL 2G, SR 2G & S2E
- Vadja Hawx 43/46/52
- Think Evo II 2G, Ion 1G
- Fenn Elite S, Swordfish S
- Nelo 560M
The following user(s) said Thank You: tony h, owenfromwales, Atlas

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4 years 6 months ago #27733 by Cerca Trova
I paddle a G2 SEL, SR, and the SEI, among other kayaks, and canoes. At 6'1" and 180 lbs I find the bucket perfect for me. No padding necessary. Of any Ski I have paddled it's definitely the most comfortable. Also on my 6 mile test run on a large lake in Austin TX I recorded my fastest run with it. Surprisingly the new Apex T came in a close 2nd.
Terry

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4 years 6 months ago #27734 by JC
Thanks for the detailed feedback on the new SEI. Portmanm, as you've been paddling the Advantage construction, any thoughts on how it compares to the Excel build? I'm thinking of buying an SEI, and I'd prefer a lighter ski, but the extra cost for Excel is significant. Too bad Stellar doesn't offer a "hybrid" model, e.g., an Advantage hull and Excel deck with an in-between weight. Thanks!

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4 years 6 months ago #27735 by wesley
Here is what i have done to address the Cons of the SEI 2G and really all my Stellars.

1. You must always press down on the cam locks until you hear it disengage. If you can not press the cam lock down then you must press down and then move slightly. If you do not it will be a major source of frustration. When we went to cam locks after a wing nut, I spent over an hour trying to move the foot plate. I even took it apart. In this process I realized all I needed to do was press down and then it moves freely. Where I paddle their is not much fine sand. However, I have done Demo's on fine sand beaches with too much sand in the track so I splashed some water to rinse out the track.

2. The bain of my existence with tying knots to adjust the to pedal angle in the Stellars. Imagine all the times I have had to do this since I have paddled more Stellars than anyone. I have brought this to the powers to be with not much luck. So I decided to come up with a solution. I replaced all my personal skis with a BARREL adjuster just like on the Think and Epic skis. I takes my 15 minutes per ski. You have to re tie the rudder lines at the rudder yoke, line up the pedals. I have this perfected since I have retro fitted 8 of my personal skis!

3. Drink bottle. Nice idea but I found it just gets in my way. So I cut lines and take this feature out along with the drain stoppers. Some paddlers like the bottle feature. I use a hydro pack(camel back 70 oz) with an extender tube in front of my footplate, and run the tube along the outside of my foot plate with 2 attachement points within the footwell and one on the outside of where my knee is. This way I never have to mess with my hydro pack if I capsize. It is totally secure no matter what and is easy to attach and detach. If you are a taller paddler you will not have much room as I have though most paddlers have plenty of room.

4. Lastly though Portman did not mention, I change(increased) the angle of my footplate simply by moving the bracket to the front of the footplate vice the back. This takes 5 minutes and put the angle of the footplate similar to the Thinks and Epics. Where I paddle virtually everyone wears paddling shoes. But if you paddle in other parts of the world and go barefoot you may find the your heel up against the bracket. So don't mind, others do.

So my Con's are the same as Portman but I have found a reasonable/cheap/easy solution to to address these minor issues. The SEI 2G Excel (24lbs) that I race/train in big conditions is in my mind the fastest intermediate ski at 20ft 18 inches with superb glide. Most other intermediate skis are wider. You could classify it as a High Performance Ski I suppose. Regardless of how I classify it, it is a wonderful all around ski. If I could only pick one Stellar ski for all my needs, just one, for my skill level the SEI 2G checks all my boxes. I think many paddlers in 2017 will find that out for themselves. Hope this helps. Thanks Portman for putting the pros and cons out there. Looking forward to 2017 and reviewing more skis!!!!

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.
The following user(s) said Thank You: owenfromwales, Atlas

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4 years 6 months ago #27736 by TaffyMick
Well I will be picking up portmanm's demo SEI tonight after work and having a pre and post work paddle on it tomorrow. Very interested in this boat as I have a 2Gen SR and have owned 1Gen SRs and SEIs both in Excel. I am interested in the Advantage and discovering if the improvements on the 2Gen SEI are the same as with my 2GenSR. If they are I will be more than happy. Personally, prefer the bottle holder between the legs, but agree that the knot tying for pedal adjustment is an absolute pain in the arse.

In fact was mucking about with my pedals on the weekend as the knots had slipped resulting in the pedals not being in line with the footplate (which I prefer).

Anyhow, looking forward to having a test paddle on the SEI tomorrow and will get back to you all later on my feedback.

Cheers,
Mick

Stellar SEI, Fenn Bluefin S, Sladecraft Comet Long Rec & Vajda K1

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4 years 6 months ago #27737 by Watto
Not sure what I'm doing right but with three Stellars (SES, SEI and Gen 2 SR) swapping between wife, one son and a few of his mates have had no footplate adjustment issues for couple of years now. Yes the cam lock position needs to be precise and moving the footplate can be a bit fiddly until you get the knack. I generally lift up, push down then give front footplate solid whack with palm and it moves.

See attached (if they have loaded .. failed tried everything &5#$*! images small too. whatever .. . I thread rudder cable through a sister clip on each footplate so there's never slippage. To alter footplate length it's just a matter of undoing clamps and shifting to whatever position then reclamping, nothing else. The footplates just retain their original angle, no knot undoing, no adjustment through each footplate, nil, nix, nought. Son is 6'4", wife 5'7'' so fair bit of max-min movement going on.

Sister clip primary purpose is connecting two lines, most commonly for raising flags. I use these for GoPro/Vibe camera leashes and paddle leash for big days.

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4 years 6 months ago - 4 years 6 months ago #27738 by TaffyMick
Took the demo 2 Gen SEI (Advantage) down to my usual high tide haunt this morning. Adjusted the pedals to my usual settings, which took less than 30 seconds. You do get used to it.

Straddling the SEI and flopping into the seat and it felt like my 2Gen SR. Probably a little bit more snug, but very comfortable all the same with that "locked in" feeling. This is probably due to the 2cm difference in width. But it also felt it had much less volume and (to me) felt it had a distinctly narrower catch. Anyhow, off I went with the first couple of dozen strokes (flat water). Testing the limits of it's primary stability, one area I was not all that happy with with my 1Gen SEI (Excel) with it's tendency to roll. All I can say is "chalk and cheese". So much so that primary stability after a couple of kilometres was not an issue.

Following the first few kilometres I decided to take the SEI down to the entrance where a small NE wind swell and strong running incoming tide was surging up the river. What was interesting, as alluded to above, was the primary stability, which never entered my mind as I turned sideways into the small swell and tide. Turning circle has definitely improved over the 1Gen and as soon as I had the small runs and tide behind me it literally took off. After 100 metres and coming over the edge of a sandbank into deeper water, not too sure what exactly happened in the swirling water, but one moment I am powering away and the next thing I am over. Attributed to the surf rudder installed (compared to my smaller racing rudder) and one that is adjusted much looser than what I normally use.

Ah well, thought good a place as any to try some remounting practice (chest deep). As with any new boat, the first go at doing a remount is always looked at with a bit of trepidation. Got myself into my usual position and thought "lets try this middle handle as a grab handle". Anyway "TaffyMick", aka Elephant Seal/Michelin Man, kicked up and surprised himself by just bout rolling straight back into the seat in near enough one motion. Then I realised that the SEI now has lower gunnels making remounting a breeze. Being the cocky bugger I am I decided to try that again, so over the side I go. Tried to do the same thing three times with no success, so reverted back to the good old straddle remount. Thing is, practice will make perfect. It is one of the easiest skis to remount.

With that sorted out and suitably cooled off (was already 26C at 6:50am). I decided to chase a couple washes from boats heading up the river. Having a 4 Knot limit, it is relatively easy to wash ride boats on this river. Well...all I can say is... brilliant. Rode the wash no problems at all. A few strokes here and there to sit on the sweet spot and the odd brace stroke. The look on the owners face when he turned around and saw me riding his wash with a cheery "How yer going mate...alright?"... priceless.

Anyway, it is a work day so had to head back down the river to the ramp against a strong tide and get to work. Took the opportunity to really put it through it's paces. Got my cadence and HR up to a manageable level and was very surprised at the turn of speed and how it could be maintained. What impressed me the most was its gliding ability. My SR can glide too, but the extra 200cm in length and narrower width of the new SEI provided a much more pronounced glide.

Looking forward to trying it out after work and hoping that the wind will be up to see how it handles choppier and windy conditions.

Conclusion, I really like my 2Gen SR but I believe I need to upgrade to the SEI to push my ski paddling skills to the next level and also be more competitive in next years Marathon Series when conditions are too extreme for my K1.

Trust I haven't overly bored you with this review. But thought I should share my personal thoughts and experiences on the 2Gen Stellar SEI (Advantage layup) this morning.

BTW... those carry handles adjacent to the bucket... bloody marvelous for carrying the boat.

Cheers,
Mick

Stellar SEI, Fenn Bluefin S, Sladecraft Comet Long Rec & Vajda K1
The following user(s) said Thank You: Atlas

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4 years 6 months ago #27739 by portmanm
@JC, do you primarily paddle flat or ocean or both ? If you want a touch more stability in the ocean, go the Advantage. If your fine with stability and want speed on flat/ocean, go the Excel - plus I think you'll get a better re-sale $ with an Excel layup IMO.

If you're a pure flat water paddler & cost is an issue, maybe the SEL 2G in Advantage is another option to consider.

Personally, I only paddle Excel layups, more lively/responsive for the paddling I typically do, ocean :-)

Cheers, Matt

Bio
- 90kg, 183cm, paddling 90+% in ocean conditions for 5 years. Prefer downwind.
- Epic V12 1G, V10 1G/2G, V10 Sport, V8 & V8 Pro
- Stellar SEI 1G/2G, SES 1G/2G, SEL 2G, SR 2G & S2E
- Vadja Hawx 43/46/52
- Think Evo II 2G, Ion 1G
- Fenn Elite S, Swordfish S
- Nelo 560M
The following user(s) said Thank You: JC

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4 years 6 months ago #27746 by paddlepup
Really interested in reading this topic as Im currently giving this ski serious consideration. I have owned an Evo2 and Swordy S in the last 18mths and to date the Swordy is my favourite ski offshore and even though Ive only been paddling less than 2 years I never swam off the Swordfish.
The last 6 months Ive been cruising on more novice boats like Eze and Boost and now Im looking to step up again.
Commonsense tells me that the Gen2 SR is fast enough and stable enough to do everything I want (offshore, river racing and surfing) however I feel like the bucket in the SR is still cavernous for me (Im 6'1 85kg and 52yo)
Is the SEI Gen2 similar stability to Evo2/Swordy S/ etc ? If so I will be fine on it and will enjoy it.- if its a tippy beast like perhaps a Hawx 46 then I guess I need to look at padding out an SR (prefer not to) or get another Fenn.
Intended use: 50% openwater/bay paddling and 50% river training/racing.
Looking at Excel layup.

Bill

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4 years 6 months ago #27749 by portmanm
SEI Gen2 similar stability to Swordfish S, Epic V10S and Evo II. Hawx 46 little less stable but a great ski if you can manage it.

Cheers, Matt

Bio
- 90kg, 183cm, paddling 90+% in ocean conditions for 5 years. Prefer downwind.
- Epic V12 1G, V10 1G/2G, V10 Sport, V8 & V8 Pro
- Stellar SEI 1G/2G, SES 1G/2G, SEL 2G, SR 2G & S2E
- Vadja Hawx 43/46/52
- Think Evo II 2G, Ion 1G
- Fenn Elite S, Swordfish S
- Nelo 560M

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4 years 6 months ago #27752 by owenfromwales
Took my SEI 2G out for its 8th spin, last night. Light breeze generating maybe 3 or 4 inch runners - the kind I couldn`t hold for long on a spec ski, but on the SEI, I could squeeze so much more out of them, even putting the paddles down sometimes.
Not had the chance to do any proper downwind in it yet, but everything else feels great for me.

189cm 90~100kg
Present skis:
2017 Stellar SEI 2G
1993 Gaisford Spec Ski
1980s Pratt Spec Ski
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor
Previous
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor X 3
1987 Kevlar Chalupsky (Hummel) (Welsh copy!)
1988 Kevlar Double Chalupsky
1992 Hammerhead spec
2000 Fenn copy

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4 years 6 months ago #27761 by paddlepup
Matt, just how similar to Swordy S in stability please ??? I found the Swordy fantastic stability - wobbled a bit in really rough conditions but never through me off. I actually found the Swordy better in rough water than in flatwater - I know that sounds daft but maybe if just rolled about a bit in the flat and there was that tendency to over correct, making it feel unstable.

Bill

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4 years 6 months ago #27764 by Newbflat
I can speak to the stability of the SR. I went from two years in an Epic V10 sport g2 to an SR and demoed an Evo II back to back with the SR several times in solid DW conditions.

To me the SR is more stable than both the Sport and the Evo II. It's most similar to the Evo in terms of stability profile but the SR has deeper secondary. It's very confidence inspiring. The sport is a different feel, more solid initial stability than the SR or Evo II but less predictable secondary. I never quite became one with it. I liked the Evo II a lot but I just catch waves quite as easily and the SR just seems to fall into runs, almost sucked along. I'm faster in the SR than ether the Sport or the Evo downwind. I'm faster in the SR on flat water than the Sport as well. Not sure about the Evo II.

Side note, the Evo II demo and the SR demos were done back to back multiple times in big conditions. Both skis had DK "gorge special" downwind rudders on them so it was an apples to apples comparison.

The SR is not perfect. I would call it a lively ski and is in great need of a real DW rudder. I first demoed it in solid conditions with the 8" all purpose rudder and came away thinking it was a dud. Slow to steer, directionally unstable high speed surfing and would round up like a broaching sailboat when surfing diagonally.
I decided to demo it again with a proper DK downwind 9" rudder on it to see if it would fix things.

For the most part it did. Crisp responsive steering, better directional stability at speed (still lively) and much better diagonal surfing... zero broaching. Really, it's like a different ski. It went from last place in my search for a replacement to first, just with a rudder change.

Anyone with a Stellar ski that likes a good downwind would do themselves a favor and get a proper DW rudder. All my Stellar skis proform MUCH better downwind with a real DW rudder on it.


And don't get me started on the increasingly poor quality of Stellar rudders....

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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