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Initial Impressions

NOTE: Before reading this keep in mind these were just initial impressions, and I now highly endorse this boat!

The new Jackson Kayak Antix seemed like a promising boat when I first saw it. I'm a big fan of Jackson and paddle their boats pretty much exclusively. Their outfitting works, a lot of their designs work for me... they are just my goto. When the Antix came out, I was immeditely impressed by all the footage showing people getting vertical on the tail with relative ease. I regularly paddle a Jackson Rockstar, and am fairly decent in it. I can get vertical and stay there, stern squirt in and out of eddies mid-rapid, surf it, wave wheel it... you name it. That boat and me got a seamless and intuitive connection!

That said, my expectations/hopes for the new Jackson Kayak Antix were relative to my rockstar. I was expecting to give up over the bow moves in exchange for an increased ability to make moves where my bow needs to better carry over features. For example, when making ferry moves through rapids, the Rockstar tends to plow, where a longer length boat with more bow and rocker will stay ontop of the water better. Another place I expected an improvement, was being able to boof over features, instead of just plopping into them. I also hoped for some additional speed in the process, increased ability to surf less steep waves (playboats love steeper waves or wave holes in my experience), all while retaining the ability to get vertical on the tail that makes the vertical so damn effortlessly fun. The videos all seemed to indicate this... but I was a bit skeptical. Jackson tends to put out videos of pros in their medium sizes, and the large sizes can be really hit or miss. I took the plunge though, bought a boat, and decided to go for it.

Initial Experiences

My initial experience paddling the boat was poor. Infact, before I even finished paddling i was contemplating who I'd sell it to. I kept comparing the bota to my Rockstar and my Karma, and I found I preferred aspects of both boats over this boat. I just kept feeling like the boat wasn't for me. "Boy, I wish I'd demo'd this thing first" I thought more than a few times. I struggled to get the boat to do what I wanted. I really struggled to get the boat to move around in a way that was fun for me. I just didn't enjoy it right off the bat, and was rather let down. The near telepathic first experience of my rockstar did not translate over to this boat.

So I was not stoked. Still, not everything I experienced initially about the boat was bad...

The boat does roll insanely easy. Easiest boat to date. I don't struggle to roll almost any boat, excluding impossible boats like sit on tops without thigh straps, inflatable kayaks and boats that blatantly interfere with body mechanics. Part of why I gravitate to Jackson boats is because how they are setup for rolling in a way that works for me and my body mechanics. Nice spacious cockpit that works for rolling up a sweep towards the back and sculling it forward. Anyways, the boat is the easiest to roll boat ever with that ultra thin relatively slicey tail.

The boat does boof like a boss. I went to boof over a big pour over hole on an ill advised line, hoping I'd muck up and lose the boat in a swim so I'd never have to deal with it again (I was enjoying this boat that much at first). The boat boofed great though, and I carried right over the gnarly hole and through to the other side. SWEET! Then of course I get spun around in the swirly aftermath, could barely muscle myself around to a reasonable place, missed an eddy I'd like to have gotten to and could get to in my sleep in my rockstar or karma but couldn't (yet)... so I just got swept downstream. Needless to say, when I first got in this boat I just wasn't feeling it.

All of the above said, I needed to re-evaluate my expectations.

That amazingly instant damn near telepathic experience of the 2016 Rockstar wasn't there. By the way have I mentioned get a 2016 rockstar? The ability to spin sideways in a rapid and make manuevers mid rapid were simply not there right off the bat. The ability to get vertical on any eddy line or into any eddy are not there like I had expected. I needed to learn to read which eddies this boat can work with, what moves this can make, versus what is going to just leave me frustrated. I felt the boat required paddling with limits. I would later learn that I was often trying to overpower the edges, and instead of making them work for me, I was working against them. Still, that said... this boat won't instantly impress you if you're expecting it to be all that similar to the experience of a rockstar.

Keep reading the reviews though, as while my initial experiences were rather meh, the boat quickly grew on me...