A tale of two surfskis 20 years apart (Stellar SES vs Findeisen Shearwater).

2017 Stellar SES Multisport

vs

1997 Findeisen Shearwater surfski side by side comparison.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Two surfskis, side by side, but twenty years apart!
Stellar SES vs Findeisen Shearwater surfski comparison.

.

Here’s a side by side comparison of surfski design and technology twenty years apart!

Why compare a current state of the art designed boat with a practically antique forgotten ancestor? For one thing, these two specialized kayaks make a great case study because they couldn’t be more different in terms of design. Also I thought it interesting to present them side by side and see the march of progress and trends over two decades.

Exhibit A is my new 2017 Stellar SES in Multisport layup with grey and white trim.

Exhibit B is my original ski – a  circa 1997 Findeisen Shearwater in red over white.

I like to name my boats, so the Shearwater has always been known as “ONE WAY”,

and the SES is the “GREY GHOST“!

The dimensions:

Findeisen Shearwater is 20′ 5.5″ long by 18.5″ wide.

Stellar SES is 20’4″ long by 16.4″ wide!

The two skis are almost the same overall length, with the SES being two inches narrower. This is significant and the SES feels more tender as a result – at least initially. Secondary stability of the SES is excellent however there is still a learning curve, and it is not for the first time surfski owner! The Shearwater also had a learning curve. I remember it took about a month of paddling it in the ocean to get used to handling it. Fortunately the Shearwater is very easy to remount even in choppy conditions, a skill I’ve polished down just a few seconds. In contrast, the SES is very tender to remount in anything but flat water in my experience. I have a solid high brace, so rarely swim, but an upset can happen anytime, so this is something I still need to refine with my SES.

The similarities between these two surfskis are pretty much limited to their overall dimensions – everything else is different!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Two very distinct hull shapes – fish form vs swede form!
Stellar SES vs Findeisen Shearwater surfski comparison – click for larger version.

.

Probably the most obvious difference between the two skis is that they are opposites in hull design. The Shearwater is a fish form type design, whereas the SES is very much in swede form. The two skis have very different volume distribution and thus also the seating positions!

If you’re not familiar with theses terms, fish form simply means that the widest part of the boat is in front of the cockpit. Think of looking down at a fish from above. The fish has a bulbous head which then tapers into the tail. It’s also the shape of a foil or a wing. In swede form boats, the widest part of the boat is behind the cockpit. This  is more of an elongated tear drop shape with a lot of volume in the stern. The two forms however are not exact opposites of each other! For the record, there are also symmetric hulls where the widest point is in the middle.

An analogy to this could be something like front wheel drive vs rear wheel drive on a car. Both will work just fine, but they will have different handling characteristics under certain conditions.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

The Findeisen Shearwater and the Stellar SES both have extra volume in the bow. The Shearwater pioneered this kind of bow design in the 1990’s but the principle is current right up to today, for example in the Rockpool Kayaks Taran!

.

My Findeisen Shearwater surfski was made in the USA in SW Florida and distributed via Venturesport in Boca Raton. I bought it like new from a fellow employee at Waterways Kayak in Hollywood, Florida back in 1997. Waterways was the biggest kayak shop that South Florida has ever seen, and was also excellently located right on the intracoastal waterway across from the entrance to West Lake Park.

In the summer of 2017 I acquired my new Stellar SES Multisport at Virginia Key Outdoor Center (VKOC),  just off Key Biscayne in Miami. They are also right on the water on a lagoon at Virginia Key, formerly known and loved as “Jimbo’s” for decades prior!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

The Stellar SES clearly has a much finer hull entry!

.

The Shearwater was probably lofted using traditional techniques. Designed in the late 1980’s, I don’t think it received much computer analysis. The SES was no doubt extensively modeled in naval computer aided design software before taking shape. Both boats have really interesting shapes with interesting features, especially on the SES!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Here the “dolphin” bow of the Shearwater is clearly seen against the waterline. Also note the much higher volume and peak on the SES!

.

Aside from the hull shapes, the two boats are in different layups. The Shearwater has a core laminate type construction throughout. This was a big deal back in the 1990’s. It results in a stiff, lightweight boat. The SES Multisport has an updated form of this laminate construction on the deck, with the hull being a single skin laminate of carbon/kevlar to allow some flexibility. This is a strong but heavier layup for the SES, so both skis actually weigh about the same at 32 lbs.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Starboard bow view shows how new technology can produce a really sharp entry on the Stellar!

.

Thanks to computer software and more advanced manufacturing techniques, the SES has a much finer entry in the bow. Also the fore deck peak is much higher on the SES, resulting in a drier ride. Overall it’s an impressively optimized hull shape!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

“ONE WAY” and “GREY GHOST” side by side.
Note the interesting sheer line on the Stellar SES!

.

The high peak of the SES bow combined with the very narrow catch allows for a very efficient stroke. In contrast, look at the missing red paint on the Shearwater (below) where I have repeatedly scraped the paddle over the last 20 years!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Looking at the top, two very different tub configurations.

.

The two ski have completely different seat tub designs. The Stellar like most modern surfskis has a full tub with an adjustable foot track. This is both convenient and cost effective to produce as the tub is just one size for all. Stellar did a great job on the tub ergonomics by positioning the feet lower than the seat, thereby promoting a forward posture with excellent leg drive and rotation. The downside to this design is that it can hold a lot of water, several gallons! This then necessitates some kind of a bailer or scupper drainer(s). The bailer used in my SES Multisport only drains when moving and generally keeps the tub totally dry with just a very slight increase in drag. If the tub gets completely filled up however it can take a minute or more to drain, especially if there’s more water coming in over the side(s).

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

The tub of the Stellar SES is similar to other contemporary surskis of this type.

.

The Shearwater has simple seat tub with separate footwells – one for each foot. There is no drainage provided. The butt displaces most of the water in the seat and periodic foot kicks empty out the footwells. This type of non-adjustable configuration means that the deck had to be produced in several different lengths to accommodate the height of the paddler. No doubt this made it more cumbersome and expensive to produce. In practice when paddling, very little water actually accumulates on top, which is in contrast to a potentially full tub on the SES! However, the footwells necessitate frequent water kicks in surf and choppy seas, something that becomes almost subconscious after a while.  My particular Shearwater was always a little short for my legs and I never quite got used that, just tolerated it. As a result I was never able to get the excellent leg drive that I can now achieve in my SES!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

The seat tub of the Findeisen Shearwater is separate from the foot wells. The two handles are windsurfing footstraps that I re-purposed for carrying the surfski.

.

In rough water, the less water that ends up on top the better. Because of this and the fact that it’s hull is slightly flattened under the seat, I give the nod to the Shearwater for surfing. For everything else however the SES is better and much more ergonomic!

The launching of the Grey Ghost (Stellar SES Multisport surfski)!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar surfski ses kayak grey ghost seat foam padding foot pedals paddle fitness fatigue

The SES features an adjustable three point foot plate like other Stellar surfskis.
The fine art of surfski padding for optimal paddling!

.

The adjustable three point foot plate with straps on the SES is definitely a better setup!

.

Flex Maslan Kayakfari Fitness Surfski Photography Miami kayak green hulk surf ski paddle attitude is everything incredible

The Findeisen Shearwater has a separate well for each foot. There is no drainage. This is accomplished by simply kicking the water out!
Your feet are the key to proper paddling posture!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar surfski ses multisport kayak grey ghost miami biscayne vkoc paddle

My Stellar SES Multisport came with an Anderson bailer and a bottle holder.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar surfski ses multisport kayak grey ghost miami biscayne vkoc paddle

Flush mounted Anderson Super Mini bailer installed in the Stellar SES Multisport surfski.
Note the beautiful carbon/kevlar weave of single skin hull!
The launching of the Grey Ghost (Stellar SES Multisport surfski).

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar surfski ses multisport kayak grey ghost miami biscayne vkoc paddle

Custom foam seat padding on my Stellar SES. The two cutouts really help to locate and position my pelvis bones and therefore my whole lower back.
The fine art of surfski padding for optimal paddling!

.

Stellar did a really good job providing an excellent ergonomic seating position on the SES. With the addition of a little padding it is comfortable enough for hours of paddling!

The fine art of surfski padding for optimal paddling!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison

Findeisen Shearwater foam seat pad I glued in 20 years ago still in place.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

The Shearwater rudder cables run back outside of the hull and are one continuous piece. Over the years I’ve replaced this cable three or four times.

.

The rudder layout is very similar between the two with the SES having a nicer more refined setup. A neat feature of the SES Multisport layup is that it comes with an over stern SmartTrack flip up type rudder for minimal draft in skinny water. This extends the range of the SES to rivers for instance, where contact with the bottom is a distinct possibility. This is also the reason for the Multisport’s pliable single skin carbon/kevlar hull!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

The Stellar SES has a much cleaner flush design which isolates the rudder plate under an access hatch. A separate dyneema type line runs for each foot!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

I acquired my Findeisen Shearwater surfski back in 1997 at Waterways Kayak which was the biggest kayak shop South Florida has ever seen back then or even today!
The ski however was made in the USA in SW Florida and sourced from Venturesport in Boca Raton. They have been in business since 1984.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Virginia Key Outdoor Center (VKOC) is just off Key Biscayne in Miami. They are right on the water and made me a sweet deal on an SES Multisport in the summer of 2017! 🙂

.

I feel that each ski has it’s own personality of sorts, not unlike two different kittie cats! 😉

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

So far, Smokie approves of this post! 😉

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Kaya the kittie cat gives her scratch of approval!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Down under the stern there is the “barn door” style rudder of the Findeisen Shearwater (slightly bent) and the modern foil shape rudder of the Stellar SES.

.

My SES Multisport also came with the 8″ under stern standard carbon foil blade rudder which I will be using for most of my paddling. The Shearwater uses an aluminum “barn door” type rudder blade which I feel works a little better in surf.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Another view of the two rudders. For actual surfing I give the edge to the older barndoor on the Shearwater, but for general paddling the foil on the Stellar works a lot better!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

Stern view: Stellar SES vs Findeisen Shearwater. Two completely different designs!

.

At the stern you can readily see the two different hull designs. The SES carries her volume all the way to the stern, whereas the Shearwater hull tapers out to almost no volume!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

From ground level, the dramatic differences are easy to see. Note the Stellar’s hull volume carried all the way out to the stern, versus the very narrow and tapered stern on the Shearwater!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar ses findeisen shearwater surfski fish form swede form kayak paddle miami comparison review

It really is true – especially in rough water!
The world’s longest kayak hat – all 21 feet!

.

In the end both boats are fun to paddle. The Stellar SES is a modern design and an incredibly beautiful boat to paddle. Yet the 20 year old Shearwater holds it’s own and remains an awesome boat to paddle (once I get her fixed up). I am not too concerned with top end speed or racing, I’m more about fitness paddling and surfing swells, so I plan to keep both. I’ve gotten well used to the Shearwater over 20 years of paddling, whereas I’m only approaching 6 months on the SES. Time will tell, but right now I still prefer the handling and stability factor of the Shearwater for surfing and rougher water.

For everyday fast workouts and sheer joy of paddling, the SES is hard to beat! 🙂

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar surfski ses multisport kayak grey ghost miami biscayne vkoc paddle

“Safe Worship!”
The launching of the Grey Ghost (Stellar SES Multisport surfski).

.

Keep on paddling the beautiful boats, people!

.

.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari.com rasta 420 happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure fitness awakenthegrass everglades florida

.

.

© 2018 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved!

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)

Advertisements