I tried a demo Flow Kayaks Rockstar on the Avon in 2016 when I was normally paddling my Eclipse and found it wasn’t too much of a difference stability wise. It was certainly a bit twitchier when paddling in the wash at group sessions, and I couldn’t turn around to look behind me for a while, but I noticed the difference in speed straight away. I felt like Lisa Carrington on her way to winning Olympic gold!
Compared to the Eclipse, the Rockstar responds quickly when I want to speed up, and it runs or glides further between each paddle stroke. Over winter in 2017 I spent a few months in tippier boats on flat water - a Phantom on the Avon and my Flow Addict surf ski in Nelson. So when I bought my own Rockstar in October I felt really comfortable in it. For the first few times on moving water I felt a bit tippy and found I couldn’t really switch off. But with time and practise I pretty quickly felt stable and happy in it.
Coast to Coast Longest Day in the Rockstar | Photo credit: Jemma Wells Photography
If you feel strong and (mostly!) bulletproof in your Eclipse, and are keen to go faster then it’s definitely worth considering a step up to a Rockstar. It’s faster but still stable enough that it won’t be long before you’re paddling comfortably through rapids, and without that twitchiness you’ll likely feel on your first time in it on the river. This is perfect for us females, who want to go fast but shudder at the thought of struggling to keep the darn thing upright on moving water. In 2017, 5 of the top 10 Coast to Coast Longest Day females paddled Rockstars, so it’s evident that it works. But it’s also a great option for guys who are confident, and want to go faster but don’t necessarily have the time to invest in upskilling to a more advanced boat.
Moving into a less stable boat now is perfect timing because you have all winter to improve your fitness and skill levels, get some time on moving water, and feel confident in your ability come the first race next season.