Rodney Dangerfield became famous for that line, but it seems to apply to the Stellar SEI and S16S as well – only without merit! These two boats are some of the finest boats on the market in their respective classes, but much like the middle child in a family they seem to get forgotten on occasion, falling in those “in between” brackets.
As a racer who ordinarily subscribes to the “longer & narrower” mindset, I was utterly amazed at the efficiency and fun of the S16S. This is a boat that literally almost anyone can paddle; I’ve put people in this boat who have never paddled a kayak and they were able to paddle effectively in short order – without the normal prerequisite swim! Yet it’s also very efficient, outperforming most 18′ boats. Like most sit-on-top / surf skis, entry and exit are very easy; no trying to “pretzel” your legs into a tight cockpit. Just bring the boat in close to the shore, put your legs over the side, and stand up – or sit down, depending on which way you’re headed! But most of all the S16S is about as much fun as you can have paddling; I’ve paddled the S16S on the ocean, on rivers, and on lakes, and it never ceases to put a smile on my face. It tracks well, but turns tightly, paddles efficiently, but with enough extra stability that you’re never worried about falling out. If you’re looking for a recreational, fitness, or all-around fun boat, this should definitely be on your short list.
At the other end of the spectrum is the SEI. Slotted between the very popular (and rightly so) SR and the ultra fast SEL, the SEI is probably the boat that most performance paddlers should be in. While not quite as fast as the SEL in the hands of an elite paddler, the speed is close enough that anyone lacking higher-level balance skills may actually be faster in the SEI. It hits a sweet spot where the stability is nearly as good as the SR, with speed close to the SEL. Someone who can comfortably paddle an SR Excel can generally transition to an SEI Advantage without any trouble (the heavier layup is more stable, offsetting the narrower width). I race an SEL and find it an enjoyable boat to paddle, but my go-to boat when I am not racing and want a touch more stability has typically been the SEI.
Check out these boats at River Bear Racing!