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By Jesse Coombs

Hey EJ and Carman,

I went out boating in my area recently with my new Allstar, and I am speechless. But being without words doesn’t stop me from writing, so I thought I would let you know about my out of body experience. The Allstar does it all. It catches all the waves. It plays all the holes. It spins, blunts, cartwheels, loops and everything else you could ever want to do with a guiding hand that says to its pilot… ‘come on, let me show you some new moves’.

You know those small hole pourovers that were better for getting flipped or flushed than anything else? Well now they are the easiest things ever for spinning. I was getting automatic spins and cartwheels in these features without trying and without concern for catching edges and flipping.

You know those small waves and wave trains that are more enticing than surfable? Well now I have a boat that easily catches and surfs these small waves all day long. I could not believe the ability of the new Allstar to catch and hold these things when all other boats were never able to make it happen.

You know those large steep waves, with or without a pile, that wanted to toss the boat and power carve you right off the wave or stuff you on a real bad pearl with the bow or stern? Not so in the Allstar. While everyone else had to work hard to hold their line and set up the move my Allstar was sitting right in the groove bouncing higher and higher with complete control asking me when I would like to throw an air blunt. I hit a huge blunt off the second bounce, and my buddy said he didn’t see it, but he knew it happened because he could hear the boat bouncing on the face of the wave. Of course it didn’t hurt that I was yelling at the top of my lungs with excitement.

And you know those great looking features that are half way across the river by the time you see them and realize you want to play in it? It used to be a lost cause to try and get the ferry over to them, not so any more. Several times I went for catching it anyway, because the exercise is always good, and I caught everyone one!!! How cool is that?!?!

I am taking it on class 4 and it is perfectly balanced and predictable. No matter if I am dealing with cross currents, holes, curlers, pourovers, wave trains or anything else on the river, the Allstar makes them all fun features of play and navigation as opposed to concerning. Combine all that with it being crazy comfortable and dry and I cannot say enough great things about this boat.

I am loving this boat and everything it does. The Allstar is a great name as this boat is the MVP of playboats. If I were to name it, I would have to call it The Bond. Because ‘No Boat Does It Better’.

And let me offer two pieces of advice to those who want to improve their paddling.

1) Don’t get in a bigger playboat because it feels more stable. I have seen lots of people who weren’t sure which size of boat to get pick the larger of the two. In fact I recently helped a friend into a boat, and he said it was too small for him. Not because of comfort, but because of as he put it ‘he was spending all his time trying to stay upright and not burying the bow.’ Yet he was paddling the same size boat I was paddling and he weighs 5 pounds less. I am trying to figure out why people are leaning toward bigger boats, and I think it is because they feel more ‘comfortable’ (read: less tippy) in a bigger boat. Maybe it feels more like a creek boat to them that will hold them upright despite bad habits. Here is the trick. A smaller boat teaches you balance. It doesn’t give in to bad tendencies of leaning too far back or too far forward. It will be responsive and if you lean back on an angle, it will do what you are asking and slice the stern. If you lean too far forward it will again do what you are asking and bury the bow. And a lot of people sit in their kayak like a lazyboy chair with poor posture and leaning on the backband. You want to sit in all your kayaks like you are sitting on a stool. Keep great posture with no slouching and your paddling and balance will improve dramatically. If you want to become a better boater and a better playboater, you want to be in a smaller boat. The smaller boat will make it MUCH easier to work on your flat water moves. Sure you COULD throw flat water moves in a bigger boat, but the time and energy spent building the muscles (and it takes strong muscles) and good technique will just be frustrating and slow down your learning curve. And a smaller boat will teach you to keep your weight on the boat and in the cockpit. This will tremendously help your paddling. When you are throwing aerial moves and want more air, then look at the bigger boat.

2) Consider play boats in harder rivers to improve your paddling. I credit some of the largest jumps in my paddling ability to taking playboats on harder and harder runs. One important word of caution is to make sure you know the river extremely well and that the river is well within you capabilities. With that said, taking playboats and river running boats on harder runs and big water runs teaches you a ton about your paddling. It will quickly show you if you are balanced in your boat. It will teach you to use currents to your advantage. It will teach you to melt drops and keep your composure and stay upright even when submerged. You will be a stronger paddler who can anticipate and work with currents, make efficient ferries, punch holes and make the necessary moves much better as a result of using playboats on harder water and big water runs. What constitutes harder rivers? Well, that is up to you and your experience and skills. If you are a class 3 boater who uses creek boats on class 4, then look for an easier class 4 you know well and start there. If you eat up class 4 in your playboat, consider easier class 5 runs for your playboat. For me personally, when I am running the Little White Salmon in Washington in my Fun and eating it up with little to no rolls, I know my paddling is in top form.

Happy Paddling!