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Nick Troutman’s first time on the Dries in his new Rock Star 4.0…

With such a BIG change in our latest Freestyle Kayak design from the 2014 or 2016 Rockstar to the Rock Star 4.0, many people have wondered what they can expect with this boat… so many unanswered questions…   With a ton of experience in it now, by Team JK, Keeners, new boaters, and old boaters, I can give you the lowdown.

For Starters I am more excited about this boat than any other since the last time we had such a big jump in the design (2010 All-Star).     

Here are some specifics on how the higher volume, new shape performs and how to adjust to it so that your paddling leaps forwards (and Upwards!).

  • Myth- it is too big for me…   Uh, that was the goal!!!    The higher volume, wedge shape is above the waterline, while the hull is actually narrower and easier for a smaller person to paddle it!!
  • Downriver paddling: The boat is easier to control downriver and on a wave for smaller people.   But the higher volume deck allows a larger weight range to function well in it…  Larger people can river run in it better than previous models.
  • Ergonomics:  The 1″ longer design, mostly in the bow, plus the higher volume deck, provides more foot room and pulls the feet backwards (higher knees) allowing long legs and big feet to fit…    Did you used to paddle a Mon-Star?    Now you can likely fit a Large Rock Star 4.0!
    • The higher knee area means sitting up higher if y0u want to make the deck height feel right.    I personally sit on a Sweet Cheeks 200 and a 100!  Dane sits on a 200, and the boat comes with a 100, so the tallest person can fit.   If you want the boat to feel right, sit higher!
    • Sitting higher up means more leverage to throw it around!   It is easier to flatwater, blunt, loop, etc. etc.. sitting higher.    Stability is affected, so don’t get crazy at first- start with a Sweet cheeks 200 and see how that feels.
  • Hole Moves-  Designed, in part, to win the 2019 World Championships in Sort, Spain, this design offers the following characteristics for hole play/competition…
    • More retentive– the higher sidewalls, increased volume, and shape helps keep you in the hole while other boats flush out.    It also increases your chances for linking moves as you land further in the hole ready for the next move.
    • HUGE AIR-  Designed, in part, to give you huge bonuses during competition, the wedge shaped deck, high volume, lightweight package flies big on all aerial moves!   Loops, Space Godzilla, McNasty, Phonix Monkey, Back loops, Macho Moves, etc. go SO BIG!!!
    • Retentive, Easier Twisty Moves:  Tricky Woo, Lunar Orbit, Phonix Monkey, etc.. go easier and more consistently, and they Stick!    The feeling of them is different from the previous Rock Stars and will take a week or so to dial in, but once you do, you’ll take advantage of how the boat flows through the water, but stays up high where less boat is being affected by the green water.   Face is out of the water more, paddle is clear of the water, and things go easier.
  • Wave Moves-  You get the best of both worlds on a wave- more retentive from bigger volume and shape of the boat that lands on the green, and narrower, easier to edge and take off hull!    It is bigger and smaller at the same time!  
    • Seat Position is critical!   Cockpit and Seat are .75″ (one notch) further forwards to help people who want to go WAY forwards, do so.    However, if you sit in the same position as the last design, or more forwards, your stern will increase in length and make taking off forwards much harder!   Our own team couldn’t seem to believe me on this and it took a while to get in them to move their seats backwards.   If you want BIG and easier blunts, airscrews, pan ams, etc.. then keep your seat back at least 1 hole more than the last design, but ideally 2 holes back.   I personally change my seat position for holes and waves…  Holes for me are one notch from the front.    Waves are 1 notch back from center.     A day of doing everything?   I put my seat in the center.   
        • Edging:  Narrower hull makes edging much easier!   However, when it is easier, you’ll be edging when you shouldn’t until you get used to it!!   Everyone thinks they know what they are doing in a boat, but I can tell you from over 20 years of experience designing and putting the best and not the best people in new boats that people don’t know what is going on under them and it makes it hard for them to learn a new boat.  Here is what you can expect…
          • If you are BIG in the boat-  such as Emily in a Rock Star 4.0 Small- you’ll think the boat isn’t loose at first.  The reason is that the narrower hull will edge easily and since you are used to a wider hull, you will accidentally edge it when the older/wider boat would set the angle of the boat for you.    You will drop your downstream edge during a spin, for example slowing down the spin.    After a little time in the boat, you’ll stop doing that.   When you back to a wider boat, you’ll struggle to control the edges as the water overpowers you.
          • If you are small in the boat, the boat will feel loose right away and you’ll enjoy the feeling of being able to control the edges on a wave.
        • Speed:   The hull on this boat is fast!  The other factor that really is impressive is how it rebounds off of the top of the wave.    The high volume design gets caught by the peak of the wave, the stern floats up and tips the boat down the wave and the high surface area of the sidewalls and deck gets pushed down the wave by any foam on the top.   This increases retentiveness, but also speed and how quick you can go from move to move.
      • Flatwater Moves- 
        • Cartwheels:  Super Clean cartwheels are harder to do in flatwater due to the higher volume and longer boat.   Dane and Stephen are around 150 pounds and can super clean the boat in flatwater, but that is about the minimum weight for the medium to do that.   
        • Loops:   This move goes much easier once you learn to balance the boat, which is different from previous models.   Your body is higher out of the water when you are in a bow stall.   The boat goes way bigger, however.    
        • McNasty, phonix, etc..-  these moves go way easier in flatwater as you bounce up on your bow right away.
        • Stern moves- I find them and easier to get vertical in general due to the higher seat position.    
      • Competition Performance…
        • This boat is designed to win in Sort, Spain, in particular.   It is a tough, high volume hole that is best served to have a retentive boat that can capture the “huge” bonuses with ease.    
        • Any hole competition, this is my boat of choice.    If you are thinking of switching, however, you’ll need a good week of training in it before you’ll be better in the new boat.   Once you have 5 sessions or so in the boat, you’ll never go back.
        • Wave competitions are a no-brainer as the speed, retentiveness and ease of doing the moves inspires confidence.   Don’t forget to position your seat correctly so your front moves take off easy and big!

      We are now making all three sizes of the Rock Star 4.0… Small, Medium, and Large!

      Here is a basic guide to sizing:

      Small:  90-160 pounds-  120-145 is a great weight for this boat for everything.   Larger than 140 throws around easier, but less retentive and smaller air in holes.

      Medium:  130-200-    145-180 is a great range for this boat for the sweet spot.   Over 180 throws around easier, while under 150 gets huge air.

      Large:    170-260-    180- 220 is the sweet spot for this boat.    

      Your kayaking is a big part of your quality of life!  Don’t delay the inevitable, get your Rock Star 4.0 today and start living bigger!!



    • Here is a move that I couldn’t do in my previous Rock Star… I got this move during my virgin run in the Rock Star 4.0!!!

Here is the Walk Through Video…