Jackson Rockstar M – Manufacturer Specs:
Volume: 57 Gallons
Weight: 29.5 lbs
Cockpit Dimensions: 34.5” x 20”
Max Inseam: 33”
Max Foot: 11
Optimal River Running: 150 lbs
Optimal Play Boating: 170 lbs
Optimal Overall: 160 lbs
Capacity: 200 lbs
- MSRP: $1249
Wave Sport Möbius 57 – Manufacturer Specs:
Volume: 57 gallons
Weight: 32 lbs
Cockpit dimensions: 33” x 19”
Paddler weight: 130-200 lbs
Reviewer Info: 5’10, 170 lbs, shoe size 9.5, 30” inseam, 30″ hips
Test Locations: Washougal River; Conestoga Wave, Deschutes River, OR; Skookumchuck Narrows, BC; Glenwood, CO
Over the past several weeks I’ve been doing a direct A/B comparison with two high-performance plastic freestyle hulls—the 2014 Jackson Rockstar M, and the Wave Sport Möbius 57.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in each boat, but in recent weeks, I’ve made an effort to bring both to the river—same day, same feature, same flow. There are other freestyle boats that I would like to have included in this “Vs” review, like the Pyranha Jed and Dagger Jitsu, but I don’t currently have access to those hulls.
Planing speed tends to dominate the discourse about play boat performance.
Well, the RockStar is faster on a wave. There you go.
On the green/flushy Washougal Wave in southern Washington, I was able to stick clean blunts and carve around in the RockStar. By comparison, with the Möbius, I spent most of my energy just trying not to flush.
But speed isn’t the only important characteristic of wave performance for a play boat. Sure it is a big deal on marginal waves, but both the Rockstar and the Möbius did great on more retentive waves that I surfed on the Deschutes River.
The Möbius feels edgier than the Rockstar, which has some pros and cons. The Möbius locks into precise carves when front surfing on a glassy wave, but sometimes I had trouble releasing those edges when initiating tricks like a blunt.
The Rockstar feels much looser, which makes it easier to spin, but not quite as fun to front surf and carve. It also meant that I never felt like my edge was getting hung up when initiating aerial tricks in it.
I made a trip to the Skookumchuck Narrows this December, and I brought both boats with me. I fully intended to surf each of them on this trip. As the surf sessions progressed, however, I continued to favor the Rockstar, and never quite managed to take the Möbius out on the water. After several days of head-to-head testing leading up to the Skook trip, I had become completely hooked on the Rockstar.
The Rockstar has a significant edge over the Möbius in terms of downstream performance and river running. When ferrying through big, boily eddy lines, the Rockstar felt more stable side-to-side, and had less of a tendency to stern squirt.
The Conestoga Wave on the Deschutes river requires a boily ferry to catch the wave, followed by a quick eddy to make after flushing. I had more trouble catching the wave and making it back to the eddy in the Möbius than I did in the Rockstar.
The Möbius actually felt less stable for river running than my old 2012 Rockstar, which isn’t exactly the king of stable play boats.
I was impressed with the 2014 Rockstar’s downriver performance among high performance freestyle boats. It still requires good body positioning to avoid constant tail stands, but it is a huge improvement over the 2012 version, and it beats the Möbius hands down.
Downriver stability was one of the main reasons that I stayed in the Rockstar for the entire duration of my Skookumchuck trip. Missing the initial eddy at Skookumchuck means a 20 minute paddle-battle through massive whirlpools that I didn’t want to deal with in the Möbius.
Small Holes and Flat Water Tricks
I didn’t have the opportunity to do any direct comparisons (same day, same conditions) in these two areas, but I have used both boats in small holes and flat water in the past.
While doing flat water cartwheels in the pool, the Rock Star felt more balanced, end to end. I could transition between clean ends with a lot of consistency throughout the rotation. The Möbius, on the other hand, felt a bit less stable, but gave a really nice “poppy” feeling between ends, which was fun to play with.
In flat water, both boats will do all the moves with no problems, there are just some slight differences. There was no noticeable difference rolling the boats in flat water.
In holes, the Rock Star’s loose hull made it easy to spin between back surfs, side surfs, and front surfs. The edges on the Möbius made it a little harder to bring out of a side surf once I was locked in. But still, both boats felt very capable in a hole and could do all the tricks in the book from cartwheels and loops all the way to the Phonix Monkey.
Outfitting and Comfort
Wave Sport clearly put a lot of effort into designing their WhiteOut outfitting system, which incorporates a lot of cool features like a leg-lifting adjustable ratchet that is built into the seat. This is a cool feature that I was initially excited about, but it doesn’t really keep me feeling as “locked in” as I feel with the inflatable Jackson Happy Seat under my thighs.
The Möbius’s outfitting also has easy fore/aft seat adjustment, and a place to store water bottles and/or a rope between your legs. The seat fits securely in place, and has yet to move around on me.
Despite Wave Sport’s obvious efforts to create a superior outfitting system, I just can’t seem to get comfortable in the Möbius. The thigh hooks either put a lot of pressure on my knees or dig into my thighs, depending on the positioning. I also have trouble with foot room in the Möbius. I have short legs and relatively small feet, so this usually isn’t an issue for me in medium play boats. The tapered bow of the Möbius doesn’t have a ton of space, so I end up with my toes pointed inside the boat, which leads to foot cramps when I’m pushing hard against my foot foam.
Jackson’s outfitting is basically the same as it has been for years, with just a few recent changes. The backband now sits higher on my back, and the seat height is a bit lower than it was in the 2012 Rockstar. These are both good changes that keep me locked in and feeling stable. Jackson has also added a wide/flat plastic beam underneath the seat that keeps the seat in place and adds rigidity to the hull. This is a big improvement over the thin tubular beam in older models. I was comfortable in the Rockstar right off the bat without any major adjustments.
When sitting in the Rockstar, my knees feel slightly higher and wider and are in direct contact with the hull of the boat. This gives me a much more comfortable and secure feeling than the Wave Sport thigh hooks, which keep my legs slightly lower and more extended.
In my experience, the Jackson Rockstar has a clear edge over the Wave Sport Möbius 57 across all wave conditions. And the Rockstar feels more stable in boiling eddy lines and pushy ferries, too.
Wave Sport put a lot of effort into designing their Whiteout Outfitting system, but to me it felt too complex and caused me some knee pain. However, you might sit in both boats and find that the Wave Sport’s outfitting is actually more comfortable for your particular body type.
I don’t want to give the impression that the Möbius is a bad boat. In fact, it is pretty darn good. But if I am spending over $1000 dollars on a new play boat, I’d have to go with the Rockstar out of these two hulls.