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This past weekend I got the chance to try out the new Rockstar 4.0 on the Dryway section of the Deerfield River. I was a bit apprehensive at first to try out a new playboat design, because I have just been so in love with the 2016 Rockstar. The 2016 Rockstar made learning to playboat extremely easy, and I progressed a lot in my freestyle thanks to that boat.

So, coming into trying the 4.0, I already had some bias towards the older design. However, I wanted to keep an open mind and I was excited to experiment with the new features. After seeing my good friend Dave Su paddle his new Rockstar, I already knew that I wanted to put a decent amount of foam underneath the seat to raise myself up. There is definitely a lot of added volume in this boat (61 gallons up from 55 in the 2016 RS), and I felt it most around the knee area, causing me to feel a little bit lower in the boat. I typically like to sit with my bellybutton about 1/2 to 1 inch above the front of the cockpit rim, because that’s what I feel gives me the best leverage. To start, I put two hip shims under my but, which raised me up about a half inch. This is just my personal preference, folks with longer torsos may find that this boat is good to go off the bat.

The biggest difference I noticed right when I sat in it was how different the bow shape is. While the 2016 Rockstar has a more scooped bow, the Rockstar 4.0 has a more cheese-wedge shaped bow, however, it doesn’t feel chunky or too big in any way, it’s just different.

Getting the boat wet really allowed me to experience the changes far better than drooling over pictures of it online! Although I was able to have a true playhole or flatwater freestyle experience in this boat, I spent some time between rapid on the Dryway trying out some freestyle moves and learning the boat. It definitely felt easier to get more air on my flatwater loops, just because the reshaped bow rejects you further out of the water. Surfing waves and holes was noticeably faster than in the 3.0, and it was actually surprising how much more fun it was.

Running the river in the 4.0 was a different experience as well. The added volume, redesigned rocker, and slightly longer hull made for a more stable experience running down class III and IV rapids. I felt like the boat wanted to ride over big holes and waves better than the previous version, where I felt like I would just get swamped.

I’m super excited to get this boat out more and really unlock all the awesome potential it has for some amazing freestyle!