Friday, November 10, 2006

Row, Row, Roll your boat

A recent issue of SEAKAYAKER magazine published my letter in which I stated my opinion about the state of art of teaching rolling. No other single skill seems to define the sport, especially to non-kayakers. To many who do padddle, this skill has an elusive and mysterious quality that seems unattainable...until they do their first roll.

While discussing this with Sherri Mertz (ACA open water instr. with rolling endorsement), she pointed out that rolling is an either/or skill. That is, unlike the forward stroke which, even when done badly always produces some forward motion, one either does the entire roll or has 100% failure. That is why I think it so important to get to that first successful roll, no matter how it's done.

The way it is usually done now is to teach the C to C roll which requires a vigorous hipsnap and precise timing of all elements. I find this unfortunate, especially since there are much easier and more readily learned ways of rolling. Enter the sweep roll.

Given a decent boat and a Greenland stick, a beginner can usually get in a roll in the first lesson. Using a Euro paddle with a modified sweep can be just as effective. This method of rolling can be seen the DVD The Kayak Roll put out by Performance Video and Instruction, Inc... (performancevideo .com). The DVD also offers teaching techniques and diagnostic help for those having problems.

By the way, I made the front page cover of, and I just want to let you know that I am not as old as I look. I just feel that way.

Paddle safe...


JohnB said...

So long as you don't act your age we'll all be fine!

derrick said...

I always act my age, I just re-define what that means regularly. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree: the greenland-approach brings a new dimension to teaching rolling. I am also experimenting with crossovers between euro-style-rolling -with the hip snap- and the more fluent greenland-style. I noticed for most beginners (not all) the latter is easier to deal with, than the complex and critical timing and coordination of the C-C-method, even with a euro-paddle!

Silbs said...

Thanks, Hans. We are on the same page. The Greenland rolls do, of course, use the hip action, but in a more protracted and gentle way. Looks like we think alike on this.