Jackson Kayak Rock Star Review.

I have had my Rock Star for just under a year now. It hit the UK shores a little over a year ago. As they say the Honeymoon period is over! So how is the Rock Star shaping up? In short, great! But let’s go into a little more detail.

I am 5ft 10 (155cm) and weigh 10.5 – 11 Stone (around 150lbs) and paddle the Medium Rock Star. I can fit into the Small but chose the medium for the extra volume that it offers. I also have the Elite spec of boat. This is for no other reason than I wanted the solid green colour. My friend purchased a red medium Rock Star in the Super Linear spec the same time as me. Both are holding up about the same. I wouldn’t say there was any significant difference between the two so far.

I have owned the 07 Allstar, 2010 Allstar and now the Rock Star. I’ve bought each from new as they have all offered something different from the previous boat.

In the 07 Allstar I wanted a shorter boat with more room for my knees, exactly what the 2010 Allstar gave. In the 2010 Allstar I felt like I was sitting to low and wanted to be higher without compromising my knee position, exactly what the Rock Star offers.

Out fittings & Sizing

The Rock Star comes in three sizes small, medium and large with the same great out fittings that you come to expect with a Jackson Kayak. No boat that I have used in the past (apart from the 2010 Allstar) comes close in terms of comfort. I can literally stay in the boat all day long. Just twenty minutes in some of my previous boats and I’d feel my legs going numb and need to lift my knees to stretch my legs or get out of the boat. Not a problem anymore!

First up the backrest has been improved over the Allstar. The back band would occasionally slip down especially after doing a big loop. It is a simple fix and if you have the previous style of backrest I’m sure you could easily solve it. I have included some photos of both back rest systems below so you can do just that.

Happy Feet are great! They literally let you mould a custom shaped footrest to your feet, allowing you to make comfy caves for your toes to sit in. I know a lot of people don’t get on with the Happy Feet but I absolutely love them. The secret is not to use the second bag to move them towards you. As this bag fills with air I find it doesn’t provide a stable enough platform to push your feet against. You need to have them fit solid against the plastic at the front of the boat. They come in four different sizes so make sure you have the right size for you. If you are a little shorter and the happy feet still don’t fit snug then put some foam in front of the Happy Feet. The handy thing is the super linear version comes with a foam foot block perfect for doing just this which is what my friend Rob has been using in his Rockstar.

Sweet Cheeks work much the same way as happy feet, moulding a seat of bean bag beans to the shape of your bum. I use the 200 size as it allows me to raise myself up that little bit higher in the boat.

The only minor issue that I have had with the boat out fittings and it is a minor issue is the way you move the seat. The screws in the elite version are on either side  behind the hip pads so it can be a little tricky to get to the screws, only the elite version suffers from this minor issue and it looks to have been solved with the new 2012 out fittings.

http://jacksonkayak.com/jk-kayaks/whitewater/rockstar/outfitting/

All the info on setting up your Happy feet and sweet cheeks can be found on the JK website it even has a video.

http://jacksonkayak.com/jk-kayaks/whitewater/rockstar/accessories/

Performance

As I said earlier I paddle the medium despite being able to fit into the small. The small may be easier to throw around on the flat but it just doesn’t give me the pop and the bounce of the medium.

The higher seating position feels a little strange at first and certainly takes some getting used to. But after 20 minutes or so in the boat it all comes together.

Some of you may be put off by the numbers when it comes to volume and it is true this boat is bigger in volume but because of the shape and the higher seat position it is actually easier to throw moves!

Most of the extra volume is in the stern but the extra volume gives you more around the knees and feet. Which means it is also more comfortable and if you found you was a little large for the Allstar then I’d definitely go and sit in the Rock Star. You might well be pleasantly surprised.

Stern squirts slice through with ease, cartwheels feel like they want to go straight!  It was much harder keeping the Allstar in line but now it’s easy it almost feels like it wants to go straight.

Once you get used to the balance position bow and stern stalls are easier. You can sit all day long in a bow stall no problem!

Loops go huge! Because of the extra volume around the knees & other tweaks this boat just wants to pop straight up and out. It took me a little while to get a feel for it as before in the 2010 Allstar I would pull down and then it would stall for a split second before it would release. So as you jumped you would be leaving the boat behind you. But now it just wants to go as soon as you’ve pulled down and it wants to go bigger and faster than before!

I was blown away on my first loop. The rotation in the air is so quick! It just whips right around your head. If you are having any trouble at all with the rotational part of your loops you shouldn’t have a problem in the Rock Star, it comes round seriously fast!

Now as it swings round quicker and releases sooner not only am I hitting bigger loops I am also hitting loops that I may have even missed before. As the boat is shorter, has more volume and releases quicker it doesn’t need to go as deep for both loops and cartwheels so you can play in spots that were too shallow before.

When it comes to catching waves the Rock Star makes it so much easier. It glides straight on and is happy to sit and surf on the smallest features. Spins are easier than before and I am blunting on waves you wouldn’t think possible.  The boat just feels loose and free.

Conclusion

I imagine many of you reading this review will already own a 2010 Allstar and are asking yourself is changing to a Rock Star is worth it?

Well you’ve read the review! If you have a solid roll and feel comfortable on the water in your current boat then go and get yourself one! Remember it makes every move easier! Whether you are aiming to surf some small waves or want to throw huge loops! This boat literally does it all but does it bigger, faster, easier and more comfortable than any boat before!

Go ahead and demo a Rock Star! If you are in the UK contact your local dealer or Square Rock. They are a friendly bunch and if you see me about and on the water feel free to ask me for a go in mine.

As I couldn’t find any elsewhere online I shall leave you all now with a few comparison shots between the 2010 Allstar and the Rock Star.

Cheers!
Mike


Rock Star Back Rest

 

Allstar Back Rest




2 Comments so far

  1. Bartw on July 13th, 2012

    Great review! I owned) both the same boats and have the same experiences!

  2. Rhona on July 17th, 2012

    Great write up from Mike, We meet Mike and his brother Chris at Decathlon demo day. Look out for these inspiring guys on the water. Happy paddling guys.

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