This is a great question and I am so happy that Jackson Kayak is able to give you two amazing options. Let’s start with price- if $1399 is too much money, than the Standard version is your choice at $1249. That part is easy to figure out. Now, here are the details on the configurations and the benefits of each.
Standard Model: $1249 and the medium is only 29.9 pounds- 2+ pounds less than most medium sized playboats.
The Standard model has a new 2014 hull support system that starts with our welded on track from last year, but it has been upgraded substantially with composite “L Beams” that are molded right into the plastic. These fiberglass beams add an incredible amount of stiffness to the hull at an extra weight in the hull support of .5 pounds.
To keep the weight from going over 30 pounds (the benchmark for me) we are using a lighter weight seat that offsets the composite reinforced hull support. The net sum is a reduction from our 2013 boats that weighed in at around 30.4 pounds. The new 2014 Rock Star is lighter than our 2012 Rock Star or our 2013 All-Star was in 2013.
The hull of the 2014 Rock Star is made with a higher density plastic than our 2013 models that will handle abuse even better and maintain shape better. The standard model has more plastic in the hull than the competition model so it is better equipped for the following types of playboating:
1. If you are at a shallow whitewater park, like Reno, or in a shallow very abusive hole with a bad rock in it, like T’Ville where I was just at, you should get the Standard version. It will “take a licking and keep on ticking” .
2. If you are going to do some hard river running where you are bouncing on rocks going down slides, etc.. (like running Dragon’s Tongue on the Ottawa a lot) then you should use the Standard version.
Competition Version: Weighing in around 27 pounds (exact weight still being played around with this week- but under 28 over 26.5) This boat is for people who want lightweight and stiff. What is special about a few pounds? You will feel the difference when throwing the boat around. It rotates faster, is more retentive, and completes moves easier. It is simply a joy to paddle. The design, of course, is the starting point that makes the Rock Star, 2014, so special, but the construction completes the package.
The hull support is a vacuum formed/ resin infused carbon/foam core/fiberglass track using vinyl ester resin. It only weighs about 1 pound and is really stiff, board stiff. The new lighter seat is mounted on top of that and new “U-channels” or vertical supports in front and rear of the cockpit rim. This track makes the center of the kayak incredibly stiff and when you slide in the water for the first time, hold on as it slides so much faster and feels incredible having a totally rigid hull down the center. The hull is still plastic, so the edges of the hull are still able to conform to the rocks, etc., and are not supported like the center. This gives you a similar feeling on landings of wave moves where you don’t hurt your back, but at the same time you have a take off that feels snappy and the water transfers its energy into the boat and you fly!
Like any composite part, it is possible that you can break the composite track, with a hard enough hit from the bottom, or simply overweighting it and enough abuse. The track can be fixed with epoxy and carbon fiber, Kevlar, or fiberglass by the owner. Both Stephen and I broke our extra lightweight test tracks that we used to see just how light we could get away with. They literally were super thin on the bottom part, which was clearly not enough material, but handled some good abuse before giving up. The production tracks have 2 times as much material to handle everyday use. However, they are not indestructible. If you are not willing to, in the future, fix it, don’t buy it, get the standard model. While you may never have to fix the track- it has a purpose, to be light and stiff, and if we make it 100% indestructible, it will no longer be light-weight. The warranty on the track is only manufacturing defects, not breakage of it due to heavy loads on the water/ rock impacts, etc. We will make the tracks available as a replacement part for anyone who wants to switch them out in the future.
Who should buy a competition version? Anyone who wants the highest performance plastic boat they can get. The benefits of plastic, but without the weight. I am using the competition version and will continue to do so: it is AMAZING!
Finally we are making a full composite kayak available in the 2014 Rock Star in all sizes as well! Rock Star S, M, and L can be purchased through Murky Water Kayaks-www.murkywaterkayak.com- or email Stephen Wright for info at Swright@jacksonkayak.com to get yours on order. Price $2,200. This is the lightest, stiffest option. There are downsides to a composite boat, of course, like durability, comfort, etc.. but the weight and stiffness is unbeatable. I am getting a composite boat, but will likely paddle my competition version in the 2013 World Championships so I can loop off the bottom of the hole and not worry about it. I don’t like stressing about hitting bottom, or banging my boat up. If you haven’t seen Stephen’s, Dane’s, or Clay’s 2013 composite All-Stars made by Murky Water, they are amazingly well made and anyone getting one will be impressed by the craftsmanship.
Standard Rock Stars are being shipped today at a rate of about 75 per week. Competition Rock Stars will begin shipping in another 2 weeks.
If you want to get one fast- please make sure your dealer contacts customer service to let them know you have a deposit down on a boat. We always put the customer order ahead of stocking orders by dealers if we know about it.
Outfitting: We have a new Sweet Cheeks 200 that is awesome, combined with your option of a Foam block or Happy Feet.
Sweet!!! This is our best freestyle kayak ever. Easiest to learn to flatwater cartwheel, easiest to go huge in, and amazingly fun to paddle anywhere!
Here is the promo video for the Rock Star by Nick and Dane… Learn about the actual design here, versus our discussion above about construction…