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Rockstar blunt topwave Rock Island, CW

I’ve enjoyed several weeks of paddling the new Jackson Rockstar this winter and I know few others have had the opportunity. So rather than just saying ‘it’s more awesome’ I’m going to try and give some specific pro’s n cons of this brand new play boating design.

Me: 172lbs, 31” inseam, size 11, 5’9” Paddled All-star till recently, also paddle Super-star.

Tested: Dries of the New (mainly top 3 waves) and Surprise, Caney Fork put-in waves, Rock Island from 7500 to 1500.

Cons 1st:

Sitting high: I felt tippy and edgy on my first few rides, so I lowered the seating position and then felt rock-solid but the boat didn’t feel as playful. It’s best to sit up an inch higher in the Rockstar, which takes some getting used to. I have fallen over when I thought I would brace and I’ve whiffed a few rolls in this process, so plan a conservative first day.

Wheeling up: the stern feels longer back there so it’s a bit harder to just lean back and throw the boat into a blunt. The new rocker and sidewall profile and challenged my timing the whole first day and made me want to go back to an All-star for a few rides to get my confidence up. Push through.

entry-move kickflip of CW by SW

Bow Slice: So much easier to get this Rockstar vertical on the bow for me, it’s very easy to power the bow down even when you aren’t very balanced.

Stern Volume: I LOVE the extra volume in the stern, both for cartwheeling and backloops and for just plain paddling around. At 170 the All-star stern has always felt small to me and the Rockstar just floats my weight in a more balanced way for my style.

Spinny and Speedy: it’s faster and ‘floatier’ both in flatwater and on waves than the All-star, which allows it to hold a plane longer, stay on the tiniest of breaks easier, and surf further out on the shoulder without flushing. I feel like I’m surfing a Super-star sometimes because of the looser and faster feel to the hull.

Size:  Same weight ranges as All-star but with the added Stern it seems to handle a bit more weight.  175 feels good and 180 lbers aren’t complaining.  On the other end,   Dane can throw it down at 120lbs, flatwater tricky wu’s, clean cartwheels etc but he’s a Ninja so I’d say folks below 135 may want to try the Small.


20' seal launch starts off a 20 degree day

Carvy: It’s not edgy, but it sure travels across the face of the wave faster and cuts back harder than an All-star. I loved how forgiving the All-star is and have certainly dropped an edge upstream a time or two in the Rockstar, but especially at my weight it’s worth the trade off. I find myself carving back and forth while everyone’s waiting sometimes because it’s so different and I’m enjoying as much about the boat just letting it ride as I am trying another blunt or two.

Slicey: A huge step forwards with the 2010 All-star was the ability to slice into your tricks at any angle and just use your weight throw to make it happen. The Rockstar backs off from this just a touch, as it’s more slicy but also a bit more directional. I’m finding the Mcnasty’s and Orbits and Phonic’s feel much smoother as they come around and I’m able to ‘drive’ the angle more effectively with my knees.

Pop: The 2010 All-star is the master at loops for sure, but this Rockstar is giving it a run for it’s money. In terms of ease the All-star may have it, but on occasion I’m getting height out of this boat that I only get in the Super-star. The timing is different, but there’s an extra gallon and a bit more ‘kick’ in the bow to send it over the top even when you wait till you are nearly airborne to tuck. Maybe it’s the higher center of gravity too, hard to say. Backloops – Rockstar wins by a mile (at 170 anyway).

The All-star may be more forgiving, but at my weight the Rockstar takes it in most categories. I love how easy it is to smash the bow for wave-wheels and macho-moves. I love how easy it is to ‘catch on the fly’ those features you can’t get back to. And I love how high I’m sitting when I’m spotting downstream to find the next surf. The All-star wins for ‘lets drop into this big munchy hole and see what happens’ because it’s just so forgiving on the edges and ends and so easy to roll. This extra height of the Rockstar you will notice, and it’s taken weeks for it to feel ‘normal’ to me, but even while I still felt ‘tippy’ the Dries paddled easier in the newer boat. Again – could just be for my weight.

Leg geometry is a weird science and proto’s are rarely a 100% replica of the plug… that said I’m having no trouble fitting into the Rockstar even with my Cherry Bomb’s on but I haven’t been using as much of the footbag as I did in the All-star. It may be that the shorter bow does reduce just a bit of footroom, but it could also be that the welded on cockpit rim is robbing my knee space and pushing my feet further down. We will know more soon. Otherwise it’s just like an All-star cockpit.

Nice air for 2nd wave

The 2010 All-star is one of the most groundbreaking boats of recent memory, because it brought speed, pop, amazing rotation speed and just a super-refined shape to the JK school of ”Easy”. The Rockstar backs off a touch from the ”Easy” side of things due to the higher center of gravity but pushes forwards with balance, speed, looseness, sliciness and pop. We are all so entertained by this new shape that we’re paddling daily in sub-freezing temperatures and hoping for rain in WV so the Dries will come back up about as much as we are for rain on Walden’s so we can jump-start our creek season with our new 2011 Heros .. and that’s saying something.

Feel free to ask me more in the comments here or on the JK Facebook page:

Clay Wright

(All Photos by Stephen Wright )

"Steezy Shudder Rudder'' by EmJ