Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Jackson Kayak is kicking off the New Year by turning up the volume and amplifying what the world expects from a freestyle kayak to bring you the Rock Stars. Jackson Kayak’s iconic Star series is will continue to play the game as the new Rock Star line takes to the spotlight on the world stage in small, medium and large sizes in both rotomolded and carbon/Kevlar models. Jackson Kayak founder and president Eric “EJ” Jackson and his longtime design partner David Knight promise the new Rock Star will do everything easier, bigger and snappier and boost freestyle scores to unprecedented levels. “Our team riders asked for it, so we’re delivering the boat they need to continue to take freestyle to new heights,” explained Jackson, a four-time world freestyle kayak champ. “The plastic Rock Star series will be the Porsche of its class; carbon/Kevlar takes it to Formula 1 performance levels.” “I love how much better balanced it is,” said JK Factory Team and veteran US National Team member Clay Wright. In Wright’s opinion, the Rock Star is faster, looser, carves more aggressively while being a bit more forgiving in the bow and stern when surfing and is “very entertaining” on the waves. Key design features of the new Rock Star series include a refined rocker profile/drop chines and thruster chines, while incorporating a new higher seating position that gives paddlers more leverage. Initial tests by Jackson Kayak factory team members indicate that after a very brief adjustment period to the higher vantage point, the ease to initiate, execute and gain amplitude on all moves from simple spins to complex moves like the Helix or McNasty to the combo moves that lead the sport. “Groupies are great, but everyone can be a Rock Star now,” said EJ, pun intended. Composite versions of Stars and Rock Stars are even lighter still, faster and more retentive thanks to the dramatic reduction in weight that comes with the use of high-tech carbon/Kevlar materials. Having the exact same design in both plastic and composite gives the gear junkie or serious competitor the perfect encore. The plastic Rock Star and All-Star weigh in at 29.5 pounds while its composite counterpart will and do weigh just 19 pounds. “Imagine putting a 10-pound weight into your kayak and going playboating, then take it out. This is what every paddler will feel immediately,” Jackson said. “The ease of initiating moves is noticeable the first time you try it due to less swing weight. The rigid hull stays true to the design in any situation and shines on big waves for massive take-offs.” The enhanced performance may not be for everyone. The lightweight materials are more expensive to manufacture, more than doubling the price of the kayak from $1199 for crosslink plastic elite models ($1049 for superlinear) to $2800. And like all carbon/fiber hulls – from America’s Cup yachts to Sprint canoes and slalom kayaks – the lighter weight material does make the boat more vulnerable to damage especially in shallow, rocky whitewater. “Hit a rock and you risk breaking it; hit enough rocks and you WILL break it,” Jackson warned. Repair is possible with epoxy and any type of Kevlar, fiberglass, or carbon fiber, but Jackson advises to keep the boat off the rocks. The new Rock Star series is scheduled to begin hitting retail floors later this month. Carbon/Kevlar Stars and Rock Stars are available for ordering through any of Jackson Kayak’s US and Canadian dealers and foreign distributors, as well as ordering online at www.jacksonkayak.com. Delivery times will vary. A dealer locator can be found on the company website. Founded in 2003, family owned and operated Jackson Kayak is passionate about kayaking and committed to helping boaters of all ages, size and skill excel. The global leader in whitewater boats, Jackson Kayak also proudly designs and produces rec/touring and fishing kayaks from its manufacturing facility in Tennessee.