With all of the hype this summer about the Rockstar 4.0 (Medium) and how HUGE it goes, I was really really excited to get my hands on a Rockstar 4.0 (Small) today! Sidenote: big thanks to Stephen W and Kristine J for making that happen. I had tried a medium a few weeks ago and found that it definitely had pop but it was also a lot of boat for me to manoeuvre and control.
The first thing I did was check out how it rolls. I did a couple of regular rolls and then did a head dry back deck roll – good on all fronts. It wasn’t harder or easier to roll than my current 2016 Rockstar (small) so no concerns about the added volume making it harder to roll.
Next up was some flat water tricks. I was caught off guard with how easy it was to stern stall – first try and my head was in the water and my bow was straight above my head. It took me a couple of tries to get my bow stall – the bow has more volume than the 2016 so it is all about figuring out the right way to slice the bow in so you aren’t fighting against the volume. Lean cleans were as easy as the stern stall, which was great! I was really impressed with how the narrower width and slicy ends make it easy to throw around in flatwater.
Feeling pleased, I moved out into some whitewater. The Ottawa wasn’t at a great level (2.0 at McCoys) for any of the features but I made the most of my demo time by playing at Right Side Horseshoe, Centre Horseshoe, Babyface and Cornerwave. The hole at Rightside horseshoe was not as clean as I wished in terms of doing loops and space godzillas but I was still able to plug and get a sense of the increased amount of air that you get in the 4.0 vs the 2016. It feels like it has a more immediate “pop” right after you plug and spins on a dime. I can’t wait to get this boat out into a cleaner hole – the cleaner edges feel like it will be much easier to throw McNasty’s and other tricks that require greater edge precision.
The boat felt really stable and fast in both a front and back surf, which was great. When off the wave and working through the boils, I did notice that the bow was grabbed downwards at times since it is narrower. I think that can easily be managed by leaning back a tiny bit to get your nose up over the leading edge of the boil.
I was starting to get to the top weight range for my 2016 small so I am really excited that I can stay in this new 4.0 small and not have to move up to a medium, which is a bit too much boat to throw around for a smaller paddler. The other great news is that it is as light or lighter than the 2016 small – I’m always happy to lug less weight around!
Overall I was really happy with how the boat paddled and now just have the really tough decision about what colour I want to order!