2013 JK All Star Review by Tod Emma

The J.A.W. has been very busy the past couple of months spreading some FREE demo love to folks with the new 2013 Jackson Kayak designs!  Check out this thourogh review below from local paddler, Todd Emma, about the new 2013 JK All Star:

2013 All Star:
• Length = 70-1/2”,

• Width = 26-5/8”,

• Height = 13-1/2”,

• Volume = 59-3/8 gallons

• MSRP = $1199

Let me start off by saying I am a novice play boater with a strong desire to learn. My roll is solid and I can surf, throw a stern squirt or a occasional flat 360, but that’s about all I can do right now, and that’s just enough to make me want way more! I want to loop and cart wheel and throw down all the cool tricks I see. That has lead to me sitting in allot of play boats both new and old in the last few months to find “the perfect beginner boat” for me.

Around Johnson city we are very lucky to have Wesley Bradley and the Jaw wagon to show off all the latest Jackson boats. I had a chance to demo the new 2013 All Star at the local play spot awhile back because of him, it had the 200 sweet cheeks in it. I did not enjoy the rock and roll ride it gave me. Don’t get me wrong the boat surfed amazingly and ferrying across current was a breeze. The seat just sat to high for me. With that being said, I had a chance to use it again to take it out for a few days.

At the pool last week with the 100 sweet cheeks, the boat is amazing with the 100 in it. I was in it for two solid hours doing rolls, back deck rolls and practicing bow stalls (well at least trying to practice bow stall)! The boat felt completely different. Over the last weekend I took it out three days. Two river trips and a day at Big Rocks the local play spot with the new set up in it, and it continued to be amazed at how well it behaved.

So lets go over some of the improvements and changes from the previous model, at 179 pounds I am in the between land of Jackson boats. The 2010 Super Star always felt a little to big, and the 2010 All Star well lets just say I need to drink more lite beers to fit into it. The new All Star skirts the line between the two at 59 gallons it seems to float me perfectly and still be playful enough to let me really toss it around. The solid fit and feel continues with the improved back band. I have heard more than one person complain about getting rubbed the wrong way from a Star series boat, it was never a problem for me, I did not spend enough time in one to get burned. The new line of Jackson boats has an improved back band that fixes this issue, and for me it just feel right. The band is wider and offers more support. The boat is over all a little shorter with a few more gallons in the rear end. The 2010 All Star was 6′,2″ and 54.4 gallons the new 2013 All Star is 5′,10.5″ and 59,3/8 gallons. But what does all this mean? For me, it means that the boat is easier to throw around for back deck rolls and soon with any luck at all cart wheels.

One of the things that I really like about the new boat is that the knee position is lower. Yes I sit a little more Indian style but the boat rolls up easier for me than boats with higher knee positions. I had a chance to speak with Eric Jackson for a few minutes at Gauley Fest this last summer, I explained to him that I felt like I was falling out of the old Star Series when I would roll or try to throw a trick, he explained to me how to properly sit in a Jackson boat. He said I needed to widen my sitting position and get my knees all the way to the outside of the boat, the new All Star really helps me do that. With that in mind my rolls have never been better than in the new All Star, and I think the boats knee height helps.

On the river the boat is very dry and responsive. It felt like it was extremely light weight and made is easy to lift and edge for a quick edge transition. I had the chance to take it down two different sections of the Nolichucky Friday night some friends and I did two laps on the lower Noli a class II-III section of the Nolichucky. The first run involved allot of down river play, catching features on the fly was noticeably easier than in other play type boats I have been in. Surfing in the boat is a dream! I could catch the tiniest of waves and had a blast doing just that. The second run, was about fifteen minutes before dark, the the section we did takes about thirty minutes on average and two hours if you play all the way down. Well with fifteen minutes until dark I had the chance to really drive the boat at full speed down the river. The boat is fast.. maybe not as fast as a true long boat but I had not problems keeping up and because of its stability surfing I was able to really push it hard through the only notable rapid on the stretch and felt good about it.

The next day we took it for the eight mile stretch from the top of the Noli Gorge to the about where we had put in the night before. This stretch of water is class III+ – IV-, right about the level I boat at, so any short coming in myself and the boat would come out quickly. The first thing that really stood out to me was how stable the boat was when I was paying attention and how well it held its lines. In the middle of entrance rapid I was able to stop, look and pick a new line with ease. All throughout the run this ability of the boat really showed itself and helped me. I did get stern squirted a few times during the run but mostly due to my lack of paying attention or picking a poor line over a hole I should not have been in. The boat is still a play boat and the driver needs to pay more attention than in a battle ship but I can say that this boat can truly handle river running.

On the third day the boat truly got a chance to shine, and it did at the local play spot. Dropping in around one pm, there where only a few people there and I managed to get allot of hole time in. This boat is amazing in a hole there is so much stability I was side surfing and dropping stern squirts like I knew what i was doing. I can honestly say this boat gave me the confidence to try moves I would have never tried in other boats. After a few hours of doing my best with it I had to get out and take a break. I offered it to a kid from Asheville NC that had been there with me all morning and trying not to stair at the boat to much. Well he jumped out of his boat and into the All Star, took two quick rolls into the eddy and dropped down into the hole for one of the biggest loops I had seen him throw all day. He kept that up awhile. When he was doing that Clay Write, a boater for team Jackson showed up, with his fleet. To my surprise he drops into the river in the 2013 All Star, double loops and pans ams followed for the next few hours. Clay had let another guy use a 2013 Star he had with him. The boats looked amazing, throwing big air and just killing it. The Jackson, and their ambassadors are truly active in the kayaking community.

Over Christmas I plan on heading down to Florida for some time near Jacksonville, I will be taking the All Star down there to see how it handles in the ocean and hopefully come back with some fresh news about how amazing it surfs.

All and all this is the best play boat I have ever been in, I can not say I will be throwing loops tomorrow because of it, but I am sure that this boat will be the one that gets me there.

Thanks Tod, see ya on the river!

Comments on “2013 JK All Star Review by Tod Emma”

  1. Brenda
    December 1, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Tod Emma is mistaken with which series All Star he had previously. He states the 2010 was 6’2″ and 54.4 gal. This is the size of the 2007 series. The 2010 is 5’10” 55.5 gals. Just not to confuse the two.

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