Posts Tagged ‘rolling a kayak’

The last few weeks I have been working with a guest that wanted to learn how to roll their kayak.  It is always interesting to learn why someone wants to learn this skill.  I have also been reading Pam Forsyth’s blog posts about her journy of learning to roll: Rolling as religion, Both sides of the story, . And these things got me thinking on my own evolution as a kayaker into a paddling coach.

Some people roll for attention, others roll for necessity, and a number of paddlers know how to lessen the need of rolling.  I roll for the body awareness, stretching, and abdominal strengthening that can occur when the maneuvers are done correctly.  It can be like yoga with a boat attached to you.  However, Sean thinks that the below cartoon is why I roll.  See, he does not know how to roll…

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Bubble Street - 06 June 2006

…without a paddle float…LOL

I never thought I needed a roll until one day the motion of the ocean taught me humility.  I had been paddling for two years…I came out of my kayak in four foot breaking swells between Mullet Key and Egmont Key, Florida.  I was shocked because I had paddled in more challenging waters.  But this time I went over, came out of my boat, and could not get back into it without the assistance of Sean.  I doubted myself, and I was a little fearful of paddling again…

After that I put my energy into perfecting emergency reentries in rough water, and learning how to roll.  It took me a long time to learn to roll.  I just could not get the rhythm down and it was painful.  Then after several rolling instructors, I met a paddling  coach that told me a secret to rolling.  It was that rolling should not be painful; furthermore, rolling was not important.  A successful roll was a sign of an unsuccessful brace.  Hence, a brace was the key to having fun on the water.  For braces truly let you naturally move without thinking.

I practiced my brace in rough and confused waters near friends that could assist me with a bow, stern, or put-across rescue.  I practiced sculling for support with a modern euro blade paddle.  Then I discovered Greenland Qajaq traditional kayak techniques and learned how to perform side sculling and chest sculling with a Greenland paddle.

jeff_qajaq_ballance_brace

balance brace

After all of those hours of practice playing on the edge between clouds and sea grass I discovered that I had not had an unplanned capsize for over a year.  But I had also developed water on the brain.  I fell in love with the allure of Greenland kayaking because it rejects modern technology to embrace the technology of history.  I also think I could have been a seal in a past life… so I started to learn how to roll with a Greenland paddle.

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Bubble Street - 12 Feb 2008

I can perform, as well as teach, twelve capsize maneuvers.  But I have realized that the perfect roll always looses against the perfect brace in real life applications.  Rolling improves balance, timing, and bracing.  And a perfect roll in eye shot of a non kayaker can scare off or entice them into trying out this lifestyle.

Nevertheless, playing between air and water does put things into an interesting perspective, and I always have fun when a guest learns how to lessen the chances of an unplanned capsize.

-Jeff