Well it’s only been one session in a low water hole, but it was enough to have some strong first impressions of Pyranha’s new freestyle kayak, the Jed (Eye)!
- Outfitting: I dig that the boat comes with an IR deck plate. For some reason these fell out of fashion, but they work well and it means I don’t have to go swapping my Jackson Happy Seat/ Happy Thruster from boat to boat. Hip pads worked fine after I swapped the bigger foam rectangles for the smaller ones and added the bigger foam piece to the top of the hip pad. Can’t comment on the foot foam since I just threw my Jackson Happy Feet in there (not my boat so I didn’t want to cut the foot foam). I like the backband- many aspects of the ratchet hardware are metal instead of plastic, and there’s a nice, durable-looking metal buckle behind the backband which allows you to shorten the webbing, which I needed to do in order to get the backband tight enough (the Project X lacks such a tightening buckle, which is a problem- read more in my Wave Sport Project X Review). I also liked that the seat position felt balanced right away without any seat movement.
- Very Slicy: Although the Jed, at 55 gallons, is only a gallon smaller than the Project X 56, it paddles much smaller. In fact, it was so slicey for cartwheels and cleans that I was surprised to see just how much volume it has after looking up the specs. The hole I paddled it in was too shallow to plug deep for air loops, so I’m not sure how the aerial hole performance will be, but the Jed McNastied really smoothly, and the pop on the loop portion of the move felt great. I think designer Robert Peerson really nailed the volume distribution and tip design on this thing. You’ll notice that the tips come to a super thin point when looking from the side, and there’s a bunch of volume concentrated around the cockpit and the knees. I think this means enhanced cartwheel performance while perhaps not compromising air on loops. I also think this super slicey tip design contributed to the McNasties feeling so good- the beginning of the McNasty felt fine-tuned and precise with those sharp, slicey lines cutting into the green. And the tip is narrow enough that the 180 pirouette felt smooth.
- Pyranha uses too much hardware and drills too many holes in their boats, increasing weight and leakage over the long run. Jackson has already proven that you don’t need to drill holes in the hull- not sure why other manufacturers haven’t followed suit. I was surprised to discover that the Jed has a thigh hook bolt which protrudes just below the cockpit rim… this is right where you need your skirt to form a waterproof seal, and I’m sure this will contribute to leakage.
- The boat is a bit heavy (30.8 lbs versus 29 lbs on the Medium Rock Star), but once it was in the water it paddled crisp, poppy and light.
The Jed has my attention! I can’t wait to paddle it more and I’m really intrigued by the fact that it’s so slicey while retaining similar volume to the Medium Project X and Rock Star. I’m looking forward to comparing the Jed, Project X and Rock Star side by side, so stay tuned!