SES vs SEA vs Viper 46 Ski Demo Paddle

2 weeks 6 days ago #36267 by mcnye1
I just wanted to take a moment to share my impressions from aside by side demo paddle of the Stellar SES(2G), SEA and Nelo Viper 46 Ski.  I was in the market for a boat to race inflat water races so the test venue was an inland lake in the Orlando area.  Conditions were gusty so I had a chance topaddle upwind, downwind with some side chop.I am an intermediate+ paddler (5’7”/150#) who has beenkayaking for 10 years but only racing for the last five years.  About 2.5 years ago I came over to the darkside and bought my first ski, an SEI(2G). With over 1000 miles in the SEI, I am very comfortable with that boatand can handle it well in the 3.5’ steep breaking waves that we get in the St
Johns River (Jax FL).  For bigger waves,I prefer one of my 20”+ wide wooden racing kayaks.  About 18 months ago I bought a StellarRapid-S with the intent of using it for flat water races, but I never really
got comfortable with that boat.  I foundthe RS to be about 15 sec/mile faster than the SEI for the first four miles,
but after that both stability and physical comfort issues would start to slow
me.  Over the course of a 10-12 milerace, I found that I was just as fast in the SEI, but much more comfortable and
much less likely to take a swim.  Luckily,I found a buyer for the RS which freed both $$ and space for a new flat-water
boat.I started by paddling the SES.  As expected, the speed and stability weremuch the same as the RS that I had owned but the bucket was much more
comfortable.  A short paddle in the gustyconditions convinced me that this boat was not stable enough for me.  I could keep it upright but could not consistentlypaddle with any power.Next, I paddled the Viper 46 Ski.  I found it to be very much more stable thanthe SES but noticeably slower.  Thestability was such that I could easily develop full power without any concern
for stability.  The bucket was quitecomfortable and with the standard Nelo rudder the boat was very responsive,
maybe too much so.  I could almost knockmyself out of the boat by using too much rudder at speed.  For the racing that I do, I would certainlygo with a smaller rudder.  I would alsohave to add the option to convert to an over-stern rudder for some of our races
where underwater obstacles are common (both Stellars come with this option
installed at the factory).  This boatreally was a joy to paddle and would make a great ski for somebody looking for
an intermediate boat.  The short length(17’) is an advantage making this boat very easy to transport and store.  As much as I liked the Viper, it does notreally add anything to my paddling arsenal because my SEI has basically the
same stability but is a little faster.Last up was the SEA.  Ifound it to be a little less stable than the Viper (and my SEI) but much
faster.  It took me a couple tries tofind the seat pad/shorts combination that worked with the high sided bucket,
but when I did, I was quite comfortable, and the ride was much drier than the
other boats.  Even in the gustyconditions I had enough stability to put full power into my paddling with no
fear of a swim.  Having pretty muchdecided to buy the SEA, I took it for a couple mile paddle at race pace with a
GPS.  I was comfortable enough that Icould have done a 12-mile race and was a solid 10-15 seconds per mile faster
than in my SEI.  Before making the finaldecision, I did a couple of remounts to make sure that I could get back into this
boat.  As expected, I found remountingthe SEA to be a fair amount harder than my SEI. Because of the high sides, it requires more strength and balance to getyourself up/over into the bucket.  Aftera couple of failures, I figured out my hand position and was able to get back
in.  With a little practice, I have nodoubt that I will be able to quickly and reliably reboard my new SEA. 
The following user(s) said Thank You: Atlas

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2 weeks 6 days ago #36270 by M.v.E.
I own a Stellar SEI 1. Gen. for many years and use it mostly for flatwater (inland lakes) For the ocean I use my SR 2. Gen.
which is very stable. Last year I had the chance to test the new Stellar SEA for a quick spin on flatwater. I was really surprised how stable the ski was considering that the beam is only 41 cm!  I was able to put all my power in the stroke and the boat was significantly faster than my SEI. However I have no ilusions that I could handle the boat in rough water.
Then I tried a reentry with the SEA which is very solid with my other skis. I was really shocked how difficult it was to get into the ski with my proven sidesaddle reentry. Lifting myself up was no problem but somehow I wasn´t able to get my bum into the bucket due to the high sides. I wonder if there is an alternative reentry method that would work better with this narrow high sided ski ?

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