(L: 14’3″; W: 23.6″; 36 LBS Composite Advantage Layup, $2,220 Stellarkayaksusa.com)
The Stellar 14 is a pretty boat. It has an unpretentious, clean look, and the two-tone gel coat is an elegant touch. The hull we reviewed was the Advantage lay-up, exceedingly stiff and light; I bet I could stand on the deck. The finish inside is smooth and clean and the quality of the finish was top-notch. Clearly the builders have done their homework on composite construction.
The hatches are both oval with Tupperware-style covers. They snap on easily if you line them up properly, so just pay attention to the centerline of the boat and the centerline of the hatch.
I didn’t roll the 14 but with spray and waves there were no leaks in the bow compartment. I loaded it down with enough gear for a three-day trip and there was room for more. Because of the satiny finish, the dry bags slide in and out and there were no sharp edges to catch fabric.
When I cracked the stern hatch to unload my gear, there were a few tablespoons of water in the rear compartment. After some investigative prodding and poking, I found a small leak at the top of the skeg box where the cable feeds in. I called Stellar and they said they had heard of this happening on a few boats that were made in Spring of 2015 but that it wasn’t universal. It was quickly and easily repaired with some marine caulking. I would have been more concerned about the leak if the rest of the kayak were not so meticulously constructed. Stellar will stand behind it.
If you want a rudder, Stellar has you covered there too. The 14 is pre-fitted with tubes for cables so adding a rudder would take about half an hour. The Smart Track foot pegs are rudder-ready. It’s a slick system.
Designed by a group of people who have been designing rowing shells for over 15 years, the 14 felt like it could be the quickest of the bunch due to its design and long waterline. I felt like I was paddling a boat that was longer. The stiffness made me feel that 100 percent of the power I was generating went right to the water.
I was paddling the standard 14 and it felt just right. The 14LV is there for smaller folks. I really like that the hull is the same but with a lower deck. Sometimes lower volume boats are scaled down in length as well as deck height, which gives smaller paddlers a disadvantage when paddling with longer boats. Thanks for not doing this, Stellar.
Other than the small problem with the skeg housing, the Stellar 14 had not bad habits. It’s a nice hull and worthy of consideration in this category, especially if you like to go straight and (relatively) fast.
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