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“Composite is no doubt the biggest design leap since planing hulls made their debut over a decade ago”

Since I’ve been paddling Jackson boats for a couple years now, it might seem odd to announce that I have officially joined Team Jackson… but I’m doing just that. For a couple years now I’ve enjoyed what I have considered “free agency” status, paddling the best freestyle boats and keeping it low key. Incidentally, paddling the best freestyle boat has meant paddling the All Star. I’d say that EJ has had one or two dud designs in his career, but at this point there’s no doubt that he’s on a roll. His commitment to putting out new freestyle designs every season or two is huge for the sport, and super important for a freestyle athlete like myself. It’s hard to say where freestyle kayaking would be without Jackson- certainly not where it is now.

But still there was something big holding me back from throwing in my lot with Jackson and making it official. It boils down to one word: Composite. The long-overdue materials revolution. 40% lighter, 100% stiffer. This is no doubt the biggest design leap since planing hulls made their debut (popularized by the X, still EJ’s best-selling single mold of all time). Keep your eyes on freestyle this season, cause if it was ever dead, it will be the phoenix rising from the ashes now.

So that was it. When I sat down with the Jacksons in Missoula this past July, the day I qualified for my 9th US Freestyle Team, and EJ announced that not only was he designing a new playboat (the Rock Star) for 2011, but he was taking the composite plunge, I knew I was in. Of course it’s not a given that a composite boat will be well-built, and it must stand up to the unique stresses associated with whitewater and freestyle. EJ was keenly aware of this from the get-go and has chosen the Czech Galasport, a company that’s been manufacturing slalom boats for 20 years, to build these things. So I feel confident in the workmanship, and can attest from experience that even a pancake-flat seal launch from 18 feet won’t damage the boat! (More on that in a future post)

Anyhow, I’m proud to support Jackson Kayak in continuing to push the envelope and progress the sport. Here’s to a new era in freestyle. Stay tuned.