What happens when we take our first generation Zen and do what many of you asked us to for the second generation? We get an unbelievable new river running kayak! After enjoying both the Karma and Zen for the past few years, but those boats were quite far apart in design, it was clear that what Jackson Kayak was missing was a river runner that was more user friendly, fast, stayed on the surface better, and handled a wider range of body weights. A very creek-able river runner; a very user friendly beginner boat; a very fast; light -weight sporty downriver boat was what we pulled off!
Just talking to my family and team, and staff that paddle, about the concept of this boat brought smiles to their faces and the excitement welled up in them. Imaginations of a kayak that had all of the zippy, carving, stable, fun-ness of a full planing hull, combined with enough rocker, volume, and high edges that allowed for big water or creek boating prowess. Kayak schools even pre-ordered the new Zen before it was even designed, citing “this is exactly what we want to teach people in!” We hit a nerve.
But this was all just a concept. NOW it is a reality! The Medium Zen mold has arrived and the first boats were molded! These boats are getting some awesome use in a variety of scenarios.
The first thing that happened was the Green Race, literally straight from the mold on Monday to Asheville on Tuesday and the race on Saturday. The fastest official time and winner of the Green Race was Nick in his new Red Zen. Dane and Isaac both did unofficial runs on race day and were also top two had those times been official in their brand new Zens. Dane left Asheville and is creeking, doing first descents, and competing in Mexico in his new Pink Zen. Clay and I just took advantage of the last big rains on the Cumberland Plateau and hit a high water Caney Fork run. The falls and Sieve City at Rock Island were running at super low, technical water levels and we did some awesome creeking action there as well and again it passed with flying colors.
The “Testing” phase is done, the results are in, and the excitement is only building more! Where to take it next is the talk. I hope it rains so we can run X, Y, and Z…. Racing it, river running, and even surfing are all on the list of fun things we are looking forward to.
The reasons for this boat being so anticipated and immediately accepted is its versatility. It is a perfect learning tool, the best full on river runner for surfing waves, the fastest Sub-9’ boat on the water, and super easy to paddle on class 1-5.
Boat weights- The Zen, is, of course, the lightest in its category, as expected for a Jackson Kayak. While everyone enjoys a lighter boat for carrying, loading, etc.., the place you’ll love it most is on the water. Acceleration and turning feel effortless in comparison to heavier boats. I used to always say that “B boat is 2 pounds better than C boat” when comparing two boats. This meant that as long as B boat was no more than 2 pounds heavier than C boat, it was a better boat. If it was 3 pounds heavier, then C boat was a better option. At Jackson Kayak, with our steadfast whitewater design criteria- “Light, Comfortable, Durable, Dry” we bring you both the ultimate design that is, in my opinion- 4 pounds ahead of the competition, and also lighter weight, giving it even more advantage.
This party has just begun! While I am lucky and have a Zen already, they are just now becoming available to kayakers in the USA, and then they will get to overseas paddlers as containers ship and arrive around the rest of the world. Once you get yours, you can share your experiences and we can celebrate them together! More than anything, I want to hear from you, about how the Zen is working for you!
The Large Zen mold is coming next, and then the small one not long after!
Fired up! Check out the video I made from our Caney Fork Run!
ps. Click here to find your nearest dealer to put your deposit down and claim and early one!