by Sam Ovett
After getting to paddle both the Wave Sport Project X and the Jackson 2010 All-Star I have to say both perform well in a hole. I thought the hull on the Project X was super fast–which will be fun for wave style moves.
I was really excited about the new outfitting in the Project X because it dries much faster, since the material used repels water rather than soaking it up. Hopefully this will help deter some of the rank smells that tend to be apart of kayaking. The outfitting in both the Project X and the All-Star is equally comfortable. When it comes to longer amounts of time on the river I found the backband on the Project X to be more comfortable on my lower back.
With the new Project, because of the added volume I’ve noticed there is more room for your knees, which makes for more comfort and positively affects the ability to stay centered over the boat, which is important for both whitewater and flat water moves. Wave Sport’s ratchet system in the Project X may take a few seconds longer to adjust than Jackson’s innovative cleat system found in the All-Star, but I think it is worth the little bit of extra time. I found that on occasion the ropes in the cleat system would pop loose, which meant all the support provided by the back band is lost. For me this is a big deal when your trying to throw down in a hole or on a wave; also with the use of ropes comes more maintenance since rope eventually wears out and has to be replaced. On top of that it can be difficult and frustrating to restring the All-Star (I found this out through personal experience after helping a friend restring his boat).
The other major difference in the boats would be the ability to go downriver. I found the Project X to be far more enjoyable to paddle down river because the shape of the boat keeps the bow from going under and it carries good downriver speed unlike the All-Star (to be fair the All-Star was designed for park and play).
It is exciting to watch the innovation and evolution of play boat designs. I am not quite sure where play boat designs will go from here, but it certainly keeps paddling fresh and exciting and makes me excited to get on the river.