I am short and very light.
Since getting too tall for the Shooting Star around three years ago, these two factors mean I have constantly been challenged by the larger volume of the next biggest boats. I’ve been lucky enough to paddle and compete in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 small Rockstars, but being about 50 pounds lighter than what is stated as the ‘optimum playboating weight’ for each spec hasn’t made things easy.

Without a doubt, there have been advantages to being a tiny paddler in a not-so-tiny boat, mainly getting HUGE air on loops and becoming far stronger from throwing around the extra volume. However when it comes to flatwater and harder whitewater moves, things become increasingly difficult. I sit so far out of the water when bow stalling I can only just reach the water and manoeuvring the boat around in a hole for moves like mcnasties, phonics monkeys or even cartwheels has been equally hard.

Until now…
I have never been so excited to try out a boat. And that’s saying something as my basal level of excitement regarding kayaking is always crazily high. Since the Rockstar XS was released in the USA, I had been reading reviews, blogs and product descriptions, desperate to see if I would fit it. Yes, it was being promoted as a kid’s boat and yes, I am a 19 year old student but an intermediate between the Shooting Star and small Rockstar sounded perfect. It wasn’t long before Aaron had some demos and I got the chance to paddle a lovely lime-coloured one on the Lee Valley Legacy Loop.

Just a couple of minutes on the flat and one run in the top hole of the course later and I knew my excitement had been justified. A custom boat built with my measurements could hardly have fit me better. Flatwater cartwheels, splitwheels, loops, bow and stern stalls could all suddenly be done again with ease and the control I had over the boat in the hole was fantastic. Loops were still big despite the lower volume and cartwheeling and linking moves had never been as smooth. It wasn’t long before my attempts at the likes of entry moves and phonics monkeys started resembling the target moves, and this was only my first outing! Everything felt snappier and took so much less energy but, because it is just a smaller version, the Rockstar XS still handles like the small and therefore took little time for me to adjust.

Whether you are a young freestyler who has recently outgrown the Fun 1/ 1.5 or shooting star or like me, simply a small paddler, this boat is perfect. I am 5’2’’ and weigh around 38kg (84 pounds) and fit very comfortably with a foam foot block at the feet and the seat in the middle position. Equally I have seen paddlers up to 50kg and 5’5’’ now choosing to paddle the Rockstar XS as well as those at the lighter end of the range.
Now that my term at university had ended, I can’t wait to see what is possible in this boat and am already looking forward to my next session on the water. It is certainly shaping up to be an exciting summer of freestyling!
Here is a short video from my first couple of outings in the Rockstar XS: