By Eric Jackson
Designing a kayak to be specifically targeted for one World Championships feature, always sounds limiting to anyone who hears it, if they don’t know the entire story. When I told people I was designing my next freestyle kayak with David Knight, and it will be specifically made with the goal of giving competitors in the 2015 World Championships a competitive advantage, I still had lots of explaining to do as red flags went up. “200 people in the world will compete in the World Championships on Garberator, shouldn’t it be good for people not competing there, say, in England, Colorado, etc.?
Of course, the answer is yes, having the best, all-around freestyle kayak is always the goal, one that you can play in flatwater and learn your first flatwater cartwheel easily, one that is great in small holes, and one that is great on small and big waves. They can be one kayak. It is like an iPad. Sure, the iPad was designed to be easy to use, so even a child can use it, but it is also designed for the businessman to have a remote tool for managing their tasks and communications. When you push the envelope and make something that just works better, due to better engineering, and a better understanding of how it will be used, you can create a great piece of equipment that shines above all others. This is the 2016 Rock Star.
You have heard the hype, the official statements by Jackson Kayak, usually written by me, and the idea that we designed a boat that would shine on waves, but we now have the biggest freeestyle kayak competition behind us and we have empirical evidence.
Classes in the Worlds that use freestyle kayaks- C1, Junior Women, Junior Men, Senior Women, and Senior men each have three medals- Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The Rock Star won every one of those medals but 2, sweeping every class but junior men. This is the best results of any worlds for Team JK and those not on the team, but paddling our boats with only the 2009 Worlds coming close in the 2010 All-Star. (we didn’t sweep any class but senior men back then)
Obviously the boats don’t paddle themselves and to suggest that the Rock Star would have performed so well without the world’s most talented athletes choosing it and paddling it would be an insult to them. The best athletes, who truly care about winning or doing the best they can, will always consider using the best equipment. There are athletes that believe their boat is better than the Rock Star, I am sure, but I would put money on that they spent very little time in the 2016 Rock Star before they made that decision. Other good boats that do well on a wave like the Garburator are a lightweight Jed, the Gui Gui Easy-mix, and a very light weight Jitzu (you can only buy a lightweight Gui-Gui) The Competition version of the Rock Star in plastic with an Innegra/Carbon/Glass/Foam Core hull support and the full composite version of the Rock Star (made by Murkey Waters) are both very lightweight constructions that are WAY lighter than any other production boats, other than the composite Gui-Gui, which you can also get a light layup.
The Standard production Jackson Kayak Rock Star, medium is under 30 pounds, compared to other USA Made/British medium freestyle kayaks that closer to the mid- 30s (depending on the day they were made as the weights are all over the map). Our competition Rock Star in plastic is 27 pounds- and the performance you achieve with the lighter boats is undeniable. Ordering a competition Jackson Kayak Rock Star from the dealer is easy.
What if you never did any play boating before, and you tell people “I am not a playboater, I don’t need to worry about getting the best playboat”. This is the biggest fallacy in kayaking. If you have the best kayak, learning play boating, like spins on a wave, a flatwater cartwheel, a bow stall, stern stall, or loop is way easier. The 2016 Rock Star is 3 gallons less volume than our last version and has more foot-room as well! This allows a bigger boater to get into it, and be able to boss it around easier, with less skill needed.
Below is a summary of what makes the 2016 Rock Star worth purchasing:
- Lightest weight on the market- easy to carry, easy to paddle, high performance
- Most comfortable on the market- best foot, knee, thigh, and butt position and ergonomics
- All-Around great performance- flatwater, holes, whitewater/downriver, and waves
- Available in three configurations- Standard, Competition Plastic/composite, and Full composite
- Perfect hull width for easy take-offs (get in the air higher and easier), and stability in landing, spinning, etc.
- Ideal Rocker for the fastest boat on the water, plus user friendly bow and stern.
- Carves hard, but also releases for fast/easy spins.
- Ideal volume for support when vertical, but very easy to initiate ends (gets vertical easier than any JK boat before it)
- VERY balanced volume that, assuming you down throw your body all around (a common rookie mistake- keep a quiet upper body when trying to cartwheel), then it cartwheels perfectly without bobbing up and down, or sinking too deep on the stern, making the bow hard to get under.
- BIG Loops- Rocker and volume position gives you the ability to bounce high and it releases without resistance when you throw it.
- Super easy cartwheels- whether learning them, or going for as many as you can (I linked 50 ends consecutively on my second try at “push button” on the Ottawa- a hole that isn’t super retentive… I could have kept going if I didn’t feel bad about taking up time during my clinic I was teaching. I have never been able to link that many ends at the bottom hole.)
- Easiest boat to learn McNasty, Phonix Monkey, Lunar Orbit, and Tricky Woo: not everyone ever gets to the stage where they want to learn these moves, but if you do, use the 2016 Rock Star as it makes the moves easier. Spin backwards easily, pirouette easy, and link and twist easily.
- BIG Loops/Space Godzillas- same as flatwater- even with the 3 less gallons, the boat goes huge and gets a good long pop before you throw it.
I hope this helps! I have been very lucky to be able to design freestyle kayaks with David Knight since 1997 with the Wavesport X, and moving on from there. EVERY kayak that you know me for had David behind the scenes on his computer as THE pioneer for CAD design of kayaks, to the most successful CAD designer of kayaks in history with the Most amount of designs of any person in the history of kayak design. Each kayak in the Jackson Kayak Line-up and many years of Wavesport boats before that (and slalom boats before that), were designed with David and I discussing in detail what the boats need to do, and attempting to create a design that makes new things possible, and makes what we can do already easier. Our incremental approach to boat design assures that we don’t screw things up, but we always push into new ground. Of course this is only possible if you have a company willing to make new designs more often than anyone else, which Jackson Kayak doubles the next brand in the number new designs, allowing us to out-design ourselves before somebody else does.
Here is what some of the top members of Team Jackson Kayak have to say:
Behind the scenes we also have our manufacturing, which, without top notch molders, assemblers, and quality control- we would be plagued with other issues and not be able to make lightweight boats that are durable.
If you buy a Jackson Kayak, we stand behind it. We believe in what we do, and we want you to as well. I am very proud of the fact that the best paddlers are willing to paddle our boats, whether they have their last name on the boats or not. Many of these paddlers started off in a Fun 1 and moved into a Shooting Star, etc.. as well. Yet another way we open the doors for young people to be all they can be in a kayak. Our lightweight kayaks are perfect for old people, that we call “Greyblades”, thanks to Butler Cox who coined the term. Loading a creek boat on the roof of a car is easier if you are loading a Jackson Kayak as well, thanks to my tireless pursuit of removing un-necessary weight, and the implementation by our manufacturing team day after day, overcoming the obstacles.
Signing off from the Ottawa River, this is Eric Jackson.