If there is one big question I have been getting from people who are currently competing and playing in the 2012 Rock Star is what can I expect when I change over to the new one? Paddlers with 2 years of experience with the original Rock Star are nervous about switching to the new model close to the world championships. It is not an uncommon feeling for athletes to not want to mess with equipment near a big competition. I used to be the same way, and to some degree, I still am, unless….
- The New design is based on the last design and the changes don’t require a technique change.
- There are clear advantages to the new design that would overcome any lack of confidence or adjustments needed.
When David Knight and I started working on the new The 2014 Rock Star we agreed to the following main performance improvements:
- Much easier to get vertical in flatwater, in a hole, or on a wave.
- Easier to move around the foam pile, or on a wave without being edgy or quirky
- Bigger/easier air for hole moves.
- Easier to get backwards in holes for doing McNasties, spins, etc..
- Easier to pull bow or stern through retentively for lunar orbits and trickywoos.
- More retentive
- Faster rotating in air or through water to complete moves with less effort.
- Faster surfing speed on any wave.
- Easier to take off the water on any wave.
What we did to achieve those goals:
- Our classic Swooped parting line, first seen on the Wavesport X, versus the straight one.
- Lower volume bow and stern in the last 1/3rd of bow and stern.
- Rocker profile with more rocker under the seat, similar to the new All-Star
- Narrower hull- chine to chine
- More volume in the center of the boat
- flaired out bow edges
- More bow rocker
What does it feel like to paddle the new Rock Star compared to the old one?
When you slide into the water you’ll notice that the hull is stiffer. If you are in the competition model, you’ll be blown away at how stiff it is due to the carbon track.
The first thing you’ll notice on the water is that the bow doesn’t pearl as much in flatwater due to the increased bow rocker when you are paddling forwards. You’ll also notice that the front view makes the boat clearly look shorter. The knee area feels super secure with less movement than the last version. When you try your first flatwater cartwheel the boat immediately puts a smile on your face! The bow goes under so easily, then the stern. It goes fast and without effort and feels balanced, very balanced, bow to stern. Then when you try your first flatwater loop, the boat bounces easily, and you can really feel the volume in the middle of the boat when you start bouncing. When you throw the first loop it flips over your head quickly, and you can feel how light it is, you are feel like you went higher. The extra rocker in the bow seems to get the boat flipping easier during the loop. If the stern hits the water during a move, it pushes through and completes the move easier. The move feels very much the same, but the boat feels lighter, and it feels easier to throw. The landings are easier to stay up right.
What is harder to do. What is the fault in the design? So far, we haven’t found anything. What about on a wave?
When you get on your first wave the boat feels easier to drop your edge and the boat feels a little narrower. It feels faster, looser, and the ends don’t seem to want to catch on a spin. The second you try your first air blunt you know immediately that the new boat is much easier to do wave moves. The bow lifts easier and the edge to edge transfer is quick and easy and the boat goes off the water easier.
So far, there is little discussion about what you have to get used to. In my experience, I was immediately better and could do more. In Clay Wright’s words, “this boat makes you a better boater immediately.” Dane was paddling the Star, the smaller version of the All-Star. He couldn’t believe that the medium size Rock Star was easy for him to do every move in a hole at Vail, and then the same thing at Kelly’s. Jason Craig and Hunter Katich also switched from the small to the medium. Clay, on the other end of the scale, being a little bigger than ideal for the boat, felt that the boat handled his weight better as well. This is because of the higher parting line and extra volume in the center of the boat, but lower volume in the ends.
Anyone who is paddling a 2012 Rock Star today will be pleasantly rewarded, immediately, upon trying the 2014 Rock Star for the first time.
If you are lucky enough to try the Competition model, you will be blown away. Picking it up you’ll smile at how light it is. Feel how stiff the carbon/foam core/glass track is. It is amazing. Light and stiff. If you get in on the rocks the feeling of sliding in will be like you have never felt. Even the standard model will surprise you at how stiff it is. The improved hull support of either design is easily noticeable, and the competition model is incredible. The swing weight reduction of the competition model is so noticeable, and the first time you go back to the heavier boat (about three pounds for a Rock Star, and an average of 6 pounds more than most playboats) you will not want to give up that feeling again.
When surfing a wave the competition model feels faster and looser. You can tell you have less weight to lift off the water and throw around.
Watch Stephen Wright’s record ride at Kelly’s Whitewater park in the boat he calls and has written on his cockpit rim: “Stephen’s Boat of Destiny!!”
Finally, the new hip pad system- assuming you use it right, putting the hip pad shims on the seat side of the plastic plates, provides a confident feeling of security. The hook really holds your butt in the seat. Nobody seems to be having their backband under their butt on big loops or McNasty.
Quick 2010 All-Star comparison- If you have the 2010 All-Star you will find the 2014 Rock Star…
- Much easier to get the bow under.
- Faster, way looser, and about the same edge to edge on a wave.
- More retentive and way easier quicker rotations.
- Way more balanced volume bow to stern that makes cartwheels much easier.
Summary: While this seems like a glowing biased review of my own boat, I really can’t provide a more accurate description of what you’ll feel when you switch from a 2012 Rock Star to a 2014 Rock Star. 100% of team JK who tried the boat the day before GoPro Games used it in the GoPro Games because they were sold on the first try. This rarely happens and when it does, it speaks volumes. If you either like playboating just for fun, or also like to compete, or just want to win the World Championships- you’ll want to get this boat on the water right away!
here is what Dustin Urban and Team JK has say about the design…