When paddlers start out, the kayak roll is this mythical thing. The domain of advanced boaters and the keys to the kingdom of river and rough water paddling. To many it seems an unattainable skill, privy to only a handful of rad dudes and dudettes! OK, well, this may be a bit of an exaggeration but not to far from the truth.
The reality is it really doesn’t have to be that way. With good instruction and a well thought out progression it may take some time, but once you achieve it, it will feel effortless and reliable. There are many types of rolls, and whichever one you learned you likely think is the best one. The sweep roll is that for us. A roll that is not necessarily the quickest or easiest to learn but, once you put in the time you have a roll that will work in most situations, protects your head and shoulders and requires little to no surface tension on the paddle blade to work.
Now, people are passionate about the rolls they do and/or teach, so this is not meant to be a ‘this is the only way to teach/learn to roll’ article. It is just the one that we like to teach for its long-term reliability and safety factors.
This video is built to be a review/overview of the sweep roll, not a traditional ‘how to’ video as we think seeking local professional instruction is the only way to start out on this path.
1. The Start Position: Simply put, lean forwards and then out to the side of the boat. Push your hands as close to the surface as you can whilst keeping your paddle shaft parallel to the water. One tip we use is to ask people to try and see if they can get their lips to the surface.
2. The Pause: Sounds simple, but for some reason people often forget it (might be the whole not breathing underwater thing). Allow your setup to feel ‘right’ and don’t rush into the next stage of the roll. We have people loosen their grip on the paddle when we are teaching in the pool
3. The Sweep: This is where the paddle is swept (uncoiling the body rotation built up in the start position) away from the boat at or near the surface. For the sweep roll to work most effectively you want to feather the paddle so it slices across (or near) the surface of the water, you shouldn’t feel yourself ‘pulling’ water with the blade. We use the comparison of slowly applying the throttle of a motorbike throughout the sweep
4. The Knee Drive (hip flick): This happens at the same time as the sweep. In a nice roll they will start in unison. By the time we have people working on the roll paddlers will have rehearsed their knee drive off the side of the pool, a partner’s boats and off the hands of an instructor. It is a crucial component of a smooth and reliable roll.
5. The Finish: This is an underrated part of the roll. To get into the finish position you need to have feathered the blade, completed your knee drive and finished your body rotation. These being done will lead you to being rotated looking down the line of the paddle towards the blade that just completed the sweep, with the other hand tucked in to your chin.
There are so many little trouble spots in the roll that it is best to start with checking out the troubleshooting section of the video and if you are still having trouble drop us a line or connect with your local professional paddling school or instructor. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find courses and more at www.aquabaticscalgary.com