When Stellar announced the 2nd Gen version of the SEI, I knew good things were in store – the question was how good. With the 2nd gen SR bumping up against the 1st gen SEI in performance, could they really build in an update to the SEI that would slot in the narrowing gap between the SR and the SEL? In short, the answer is yes and superbly!
The 1st gen SEI was a good boat and probably the fastest of the intermediate surf skis, but some paddlers felt the cockpit ergonomics and the stability could be improved a bit. The 2nd gen SEI is the answer and it is truly a whole ‘nother animal! I heard some very good things about both the stability and speed from Wesley Echols, who was testing out the first SEI on our shores. He reported that the boat was both faster AND more stable than the prior version, as well as having the new ergonomic cockpit that Stellar is using across the line. That only whetted my appetite to try one!
I ordered in an Advantage layup SEI in the stunning green/gray combination Stellar offers, adding in a weedless 4″ rudder to the order so I could switch between the 8″ surf rudder and the smaller weedless rudder. My initial tests took place using the 8″ rudder that came installed. Naturally the boat had plenty of control, but I thought that speed might climb even more with the 4″ weedless rudder (paddling on flat water I didn’t need the wave-control the larger rudder affords). With the smaller rudder I can now obtain speeds very close to my performance in the 2nd gen SEL, but with the advantage of additional stability (which also helps performance). All I can say is “wow”! Stellar managed to accomplish the same stunning makeover to the SEI that it had performed on the SR: a combination of excellent cockpit ergonomics, better fore/aft balance, narrower paddle entry, stability close to that of the SR, quicker turning, and speed nipping on the heels of the SEL. And the twin bailers empty water fast!
We’ll see how paddlers respond to this latest SEI, but from my perspective I would suggest that this is probably the optimum boat for a great many surf ski paddlers. Most surf ski paddlers are probably paddling a boat slightly beyond their skill level, and as such most would probably see a gain in their performance and their rough water skills by moving from their 17″ wide skis to the SEI. Even being fully comfortable in most waters in my SEL, I’m finding myself paddling the SEI more and more often, just enjoying the extra margin of stability coupled with superb efficiency. One more advantage: at 20′ long it fits into the smaller garages better than the 21’ skis!
If the new SEI is of interest to you, contact me and we’ll set up a demo time.