By Eric Jackson
When I first conceptualized Jackson Kayak, before I had a business plan, or funding, or any boats designs done, I already knew that my way of getting the word out about my boats would be through my team of individuals that I would call Team Jackson Kayak. While there are plenty of consumer brands that pay famous people to endorse their products, this was not my vision. My vision was to make boats for the most enthusiastic, skilled, and friendly kayakers that wanted others to succeed and have fun almost as much as themselves. This meant that just being good wasn’t enough to be part of Team JK, but to be a good ambassador for kayaking and to make other’s lives better in the process.
The reality of this vision couldn’t have turned out any better, 11 years later. Still true to form, Team JK, almost 200 strong between whitewater and fishing, and exploration, is made up of many of the most enthusiastic, skilled, and sharing/caring people in the world. Yes, we get teased by the other brands, a lot, as being childish and “not very cool” as we enjoy hanging out with the average boaters, act like children sometimes, and don’t worry about trying to impress our peers in ways that are not inclusive of others. Of course, you can’t talk about Team JK without talking about their achievements on the water, and this week’s World Championships is certainly a place where you can see the quality of paddling they are capable of.
The squirt competition at the worlds has just ended and Team JK took 5 out of the 6 available medals include both golds and silvers. The surface boat competitions are about to begin and the new 2016 Rock Star will get its chance to shine as well. The new 2016 Rock Star is one of the reasons we have such a strong team, of course, as was the 2014 Rock Star, the 2012 Rock Star, the 2010 All-Star, the Karma, Zen, etc..
It was my vision to make sure that if you were on team Jackson Kayak, you would never wish you were on another team due to them having a better boat. One of the ways we assure that is that we are willing to design and manufacture new boats on a regular basis, to assure that we always have the best boats going. Most brands have random boat release schedules that are determined by an accountant, or non kayaker, that can’t possibly know how to keep their team and customers in the best boat on the water in that category. Even so, it isn’t easy to keep every boat at the top of the heap at every moment. There are lots of good boats out there to choose from.
This is a week for the whitewater side of Team Jackson Kayak to shine. The World Freestyle Kayak Championships not only has many of the “who’s who” of freestyle kayaking paddling our boats on our team, but they are also the ones to beat. Dane Jackson, Emily Jackson, Nick Troutman, Claire Ohara, Peace, Hitomi, Clay and the list goes on! The part of the equation that is most important to me for the success of Team JK and Jackson Kayak as a company is not that these paddlers are likely to win medals, but that if you met these paddlers randomly on the river, they would be the most pleasant and helpful. The good news is that it isn’t difficult to be a good ambassador for the brand and the sport for our team, as it is in their nature, and they are comfortable in their own skin, with their own skills, faults, and personalities to just be themselves and not try to be something else. This was one of my main goals for my own kids and seeing it become a reality in them, as well as Team JK, and simultaneously, is something I consider our biggest accomplishment.
So, when you cheer for Team JK this week, know that when you meet them on the river, you are more than welcome to ask for help with a skill, or ask advice, or get an autograph, photo, etc. and they will be happy to oblige.
Our fishing and exploration teams are the same, of course. I hope we can continue to attract such a high caliper of individuals for our team in the future and that we never lose sight of what Team Jackson Kayak is all about. It is about helping everyone on the water have more fun and learn and be the best they can be.
There is a reason that our logo and mascot is the “Fun Guy”.
Good Luck Team JK this week! I’ll be watching and cheering from the sidelines, which is new for me. I know you’ll represent well and your sportsmanship will be something that we can all be proud of!
But don’t be fooled- our motto in competition is “dominance by dominance”, we paddle for fun but compete to win, and we do it while helping our competition as much as they want, offering coaching and encouragement, but it will take more than that win the World Championships! It will take the best boats, the best skills, and the confidence to throw down when the moment arrives… this is another part of being part of Jackson Kayak- learning to perform your best when the pressure is on- and that extends to our factory, management, and ownership.
We hope you take pride in your ownership of a Jackson Kayak. It really is conceived, designed (thank you David Knight and Tony Lee and Team) and manufactured under the pressure of doing something that has never been done before and making it better than anyone has made it before.
Time to go to the river!
see you on the water!