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Sterling Reflection

Updated: Jan 27

5 Stars

Sterling Reflection Kayak


I got a chance to try out the Sterling Reflection at the Lumpy Waters Symposium in Oregon in 2019, and I remember my first paddle with it into the surf. Immediately, I felt that my surfing skills had been upgraded from intermediate to advanced. Timing the catching of the wave became quicker, and steering on top the wave became simpler. "Oh, I think right and the boat goes right, and left and the boat goes left!" This boat gave me a level of confidence is my abilities that I had never felt before or since. Plunging down the face of a six foot swell, suddenly didn't feel scary anymore. If Miami had a reasonable surfing conditions throughout the year, I would have bought the demo boat and taken it home with me. If I ever mover to a place like California or the Pacific Northwest, I will buy this boat. I wish my touring kayak had a button to transform into a Sterling reflection whenever I want to catch a wave.


The Reflection has sufficient cargo space both in the front and back hatches for short and medium expeditions. The front hatch is 10 inches wide and allows most drybags and gear to pass through with ease. The rear oval hatch is well suited to fit long objects such as tent poles. The day hatch behind the seat is 8 inches and suited for smaller items. The day hatch does share some space with the skegg box which can get in the way of things. One of the things I wish this kayak had is a front day catch in front of the cockpit to easily access items such as your phone, sunscreen a few snacks and other things you might want to grab on the go.


This is not a fast boat that you will be using to cover long distances. If you don't have the skegg down the boat will wabble from side to side on the forward stroke, but once you put it down, it will not be a problem keeping up with a flotilla paddling along the coast.


The Reflection is the ideal play boat. The boat has a lot of rocker and is almost like a double bow. It only takes an edge and a single stroke to turn 90 degrees and get you ready to catch a wave, and you can quickly accelerate to into the right position on top of the wave. You'll also find that the boat is very responsive to your stern rudder, and it only takes a slight edge to straighten yourself and hold on to the wave, or change direction. If you find yourself leaning into a foam pile, you can recover and continue to ride the wave with only a couple of strokes.

The YouTube Videos below from Reg Lake, Jay Howell, and Ut Naturen AS show people surfing a sterling reflection.


The kayak comes with a comfortable seat that can be molded and shaped to the paddler's preference. The thigh braces can also be fitted with extra padding for comfort, though I did not find that to be necessary.


Even with the hard chines, the large amount of rocker on the hull means that the Reflection is a very easy boat to roll. I had full confidence purposely rolling while catching breaking waves, and diving under giant foam piles without giving a second thought. Rolling on the left or the right, it felt like riding a bicycle.

The YouTube videos below from Plankton and Jim Snyder show how to roll a Reflection


If play on waves is what you want to do, then I can't see any obvious negatives about this boat. Put on a good keel strip to make sure you don't get any hard knocks on the hull, and try not to get sand in the skegg box. There should not be any reason for you to even have the skegg down while you are surfing with this boat.

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