A couple of our local paddlers, Patrick and Jeffery Steehler, headed to the Reno Whitewater Festival with the Jackson Rock Star. Here’s what Patrick had to say about it.
So, I was getting off work at midnight thinking, “what was I thinking?” In four and a half short hours I was going to be heading to the airport to board a flight for Reno. By the time I arrived and saw what was waiting for me I knew exactly what I was thinking. There were tens of thousands of people there for the festivities. If you have never been to Reno for the whitewater, then make your plans today. You have been missing one of the best whitewater parks around. Imagine taking a fork in the river, one way goes to a nice challenging slalom course and the other follows the river through a stretch dotted with several waves and holes for paddlers of all skill levels.
I could not wait for a chance to try out this park, but I had one problem………no boat. So we went off to a meet and greet. We started walking toward an area where there were several motorhomes and boats scattered all over. As we approached the end of the vehicles, It was hard to not notice the Mini Cooper with Jackson Kayak plastered all over it with their signature yellow, black and white. Parked just beyond that was the Jackson motorhome with its trailer of goodies (and by goodies, I mean all the newest Jackson boats like the Rogue, Rock Star, Villain, etc. As we approached the motorhome we saw E.J. sitting down chatting with some other paddlers. Our good friend Jana introduced me to Eric and we had a great conversation about World Kayak and what bought us down to the festival. After learning about my boat dilemma, he offered to let me use one of his.
I opted for the Rock Star since Jeffery has been using the boat for about a month thanks to a generous extended demo from John Hart at the Kayak Shed. John even allowed us to take the boat to Reno for Jeffery to compete with. Getting in the Rock Star looked like it might be a challenge for me with my long legs and big build, but it had a lot of room inside. I opted for the large size even though I could have fit in a medium. E.J. said I would be a better fit in the large. Jeffery and I started on the first rapid just off the put in in the left channel. We stayed for several minutes entering and exiting the rapid and attempted to surf side to side and pull off some 180’s. The surprising thing for me in this boat was the ability for me not to get flipped while I was attempting to initiate my spins. The boat stays on edge very well and carves nicely on the face of the wave. After a few more minutes playing around, we inched downstream to try our hand at some of the harder waves. We floated down past where they held the freestyle competition and found a river wide wave that had a nice trough. After entering the wave I was easily able to ride the wave to the other side almost effortlessly. For those of you who know me, you are probably reading this thinking, “Patrick finally learned how to kayak.”
This boat is THAT amazing.
For the final test we took out and headed back to the put in for a run on the slalom course. After doing some more surfing, we took a stab at slalom in the Rock Star. Now if you are a competitor, I am not suggesting you use this in a competition, I merely wanted to see about the maneuverability and stability. After running the troughs and making the gates, I found the boat to be very maneuverable and stable for a playboat.
Now for those of you who are thinking about a playboat for river running, this may not be your boat. For those who are looking for a boat that is going to dominate freestyle competition, you have found your boat. Eight out of the ten boats that moved to the finals at the Reno Whitewater Festival were Rock Stars. There was no question that Steven Wright and Eric Jackson absolutely dominated in their carbon Rock Stars. The air they were able to catch was unbelievable.
So what’s in your quiver?