Rolling for real - discuss^

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Rolling for real - discuss^

Postby YvonneB » Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:21 pm

Now this is probably a very silly question, but it is genuine and may give some entertainment on a Sunday afternoon.

I'm thinking I ought to learn to roll this year, so looking at various guidance, descriptions etc of different techniques prior to exasperating some poor instructor. The techniques mostly seem to rely on getting 'set up' first in a specific position. Surely if you capsize for real at sea you are probably trying to use a support stroke and failing, or just getting flipped without any time for preparation. So there you are upside down and hanging on to your paddle somehow if you are lucky. What do you do in this kind of situation?

What kind of roll is best for a beginner to learn, or should an instructor be able to tell what is the best kind for you, given levels of upper body strength, flexibility etc?

Or is it true that we worry too much about rolling and would be better off concentrating on support strokes?

so three questions really.
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Postby Andy Harpur » Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:41 pm

Well I'm a relative novice and only bought a sea kayak at the end of last Summer. I figured that learning to roll would be one of the key elements for survival so I joined a club and have been going along to indoor pool sessions, 1½ hours per week; though I haven't managed to get along since before Christmas. The first couple of sessions were spent on support stokes. I managed my first roll on about my 4th session, though it didn't have much finesse. The last time I went I only had to bail out once. I've been learing a screw roll.

I guess I'm just trying to say, just get along to a club and give it a go. There will be people there who will be willing to instuct and it's technique that's more likely to get you back upright again, not upper body brute force.
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Postby Twix » Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:50 pm

I am learning at the moment. I think that the reason for learning in a set up position is so that you learn to roll, how it feels and then move on from there to real life as it were. Once you can get up reliably every time from the set up position then you move on to moving into the right place under water from whatever way you went in. By this point it should feel natural and almost automatic, which it won't when you first start.

I understand that the C2C is the roll that everyone loves at the moment. There is probably a better explaination for why than I could give on the inland board somewhere. I think it shouldn't matter about upper body strength as it should be all in the hip flick.

Support strokes are good, and so is T rescue (hip flick back up from the front of someone elses boat) but in the end I know will be happier once I can roll up myself everytime.
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Postby Dorset Clive » Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:03 pm

Hi Bonnie. I've been paddling for about two and half years, and have never found not being able to roll, caused a problem, except that I felt it was a skill that would give greater confidence in my ability to control my kayak. I went to a 4 weekly sessions organised by my local outdoor centre (Weymouth Outdoor Education Centre), and failed dismally. Not dismayed (well, just a bit) I booked up with Plas y Brenin and did a week-end Sea Kayak rolling course. Again, dismal failure. You can imagine, this was getting to me, so when my local centre, WOEC, organised another set of four weekly sessions in the pool, I had to go, slightly afraid that the instructors, all of whom I knew well, would write me off. Not a bit of it. By week three I was rolling!!!

I put it down to getting stuck in, concentrating on one style (every instructor has their own pet rolling style) and believing that you will do it. I stayed with Loel Collins' recommended C to C roll (Black Art of Rolling Demistyfied - Pesda Press).

Is it worth it? You bet. You say about not "setting up" when you roll for real. True, but it gives you the positions to adopt and actions to perform all the way round, so that when you accidently survey the sea bed, you don't panic, you don't wonder what to do. You just roll.

Well, that's the theory. Ask me again in a week or two's time if it works.
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Postby Jim » Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:57 pm

Which order should I tackle these in?

- The vast majority of people never capsize sea kayaks, I'm not so sure about inland tourers though. Therefore it seems proven that a relaible support stroke should generally conquer. I've never capsized my sea boat and I've taken it into some pretty rough locations. HOWEVER, rolling is a stroke that is worth adding to your repertoire, it will help with your general confidence and it becomes useful when you try new things or do support stroke practise - even if your roll is unreliable it can cut down the amount of times you have to swim and empty out on such sessions, and thus help you accelerate your learning in other areas.

- Set up position is an essential part of training. By repeatedly moving into the same position before rolling you will build up muscle memory so that when you need to do it for real you shouldn't have to think, you just naturally go there. Also I think you are perhaps thinking that the setup is something you do on the surface before capsizing (I think a lot of people think this way) - this is only part of the set up. To get it right you have to finish it underwater by manouevring into a position which is too unstable to do on the surface. The point of getting almost setup before capsiziong is just to get your paddle 90% in the right place while you are getting your orientation. Once you can roll its worth getting into the habit of just capsizing in natural positions and then moving into the setup position underwater (more resistance against the paddle) and in time it won't matter waht stroke you were doing when you fell in, you will instinctively push the paddle into the set up position - with enough confidence you will even be able to do it in those situations where you took your hands off the paddle and were doing something else when you fell in! Finally for this part, I find that is I am doing a support stroke and it is becoming bad (danger of overstretching and risking shoulder injury) I will relax and allow myself to capsize towards the paddle moving it easily into the set up position for a reverse screw roll (I have no idea if I can do this in my sea boat).

- There are a lot of rolls, almost all can be done with good technique and little strength (require flexibility). I would generally advise against the Pawlata because it is such a pain to set up for but also because it is much too easy to do it using brute strength rather than technique which can actually be risky. Look for rolls which use a normal hand position on the paddle, the screw roll is generally pretty easy to master with the right teacher but every coach seems to have their own preference these days. If you have flexibility issues try and find a coach with some experience of that sort of thing - it's easier said than done but sometimes asking around locally will find you what your need.
Once you have a roll, try and learn some others, the more you can do, the more options you have.

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Re: Rolling for real - discuss

Postby muzz » Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:02 pm

I would say try to get some pool sessions. You could have a look at various DVD's ' EJ's rolling and bracing' for example.
It seemed to take me ages to learn. I ended up finding the screw roll easier to do as you seem to get more support from it. The set up is just a good starting point and you can actually tip over then go into the set up position.

Get the full story of my learning curve HERE

It's comforting to know that if you have a wee accident, you (usually) don't need to bail out of the boat.
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Postby YvonneB » Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:29 pm

Well thank you to everyone for the advice. I guess it is a case of choose your roll, and keep trying, dont expect to get it first time. My trouble is I seem to become totally disoriented once underwater. I also just cannot visualise what you have to do, when I can do that I will be in with a chance but not until. I think I will get some professional coaching!.
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Postby Owen » Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:32 pm

Jim wrote:
- The vast majority of people never capsize sea kayaks, Jim


I'm not sure that's right. We have a lad in our club who was capsizing all the time and for no good reason. It would be dead flat calm and all of a sudden, splash, in he'd go. Last winter he learnt to roll and hasn't capsized since.

Its improtant to be able to roll on both sides. You're most likely to capsize in surf, tide races or rough weather. If you try to roll up against the water (or wind) it wont let you. On the other hand if you roll with the water (or wind) it will help you up.

It doesn't matter which roll you use as long as you're comfortable with it. The setup position is just the start of the roll, which ever position your in when you capsize, you need to find that set up position. Then flip yourself airside up.
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Postby Owen » Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:37 pm

Bonnie wrote:Well thank you to everyone for the advice. I guess it is a case of choose your roll, and keep trying, dont expect to get it first time. My trouble is I seem to become totally disoriented once underwater. I also just cannot visualise what you have to do, when I can do that I will be in with a chance but not until. I think I will get some professional coaching!.


Don't worry about getting disoriented, everyone finds this to begin with. Warm water and a good coach are the best aids to learning the rolling.
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Postby Cameron » Sun Feb 11, 2007 11:31 pm

I am relearning to roll after taking up seakayaking after a very long period away from paddle sports. My success rate is better than 50% on one side only and I will give it some serious practice when the lakes start to warm up in a couple of months time. I learnt with the pawlata in a swimming pool many years ago before converting to a screw roll (I think the difference between a screw and C to C is a bit fine). I would definitely recommend to go straight for a screw roll after learning to scull for support and getting the feel for the hip flick back up.

Last weekend whilst playing in surf I was a bit slow to brace against a wave and was rolled with my paddle already in the brace position. I was just wondering whether to setup for a screw roll or bail out when I realise that I had gone 360 and was back upright. It was purely by luck but now I know what it feels like to harness the energy of the wave to do the work.

However what I meant to suggest when I started to write this post was to recommend using a divers mask till the basic moves are committed to muscle memory. It removes the initial panic and disorientation and allows you to see the paddle is in the right position and working correctly. Once the roll is performing reliably then you can practice in increasingly more realistic situations.
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Postby sparky2488 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:27 am

As someone that tried Sea Kayaking last summer and decided to go back to to Rivers/White Water I'd say the bomb proof roll is one of the most important skills any paddler should know . . . I know many will say correct paddling stroke etc which of course is important . . but in my mind a correct paddling stroke will assist you in going forward with least effort . . a roll will stop you taking a swim.

The one thing that did amaze me was following a weekend in north wales where I was messing about and what seeemed to be a sea kayaking club/trip arrived on the beach in Mora Nefyn . . . they pottered around for a bit in the wind, then some tried to roll . . . . from the lack of success I saw I could see rolling was not something many sea kayakers seem capable of . . . I would guess 1 attempt in 10 failed. I sat and watched each one roll over and try and set . . . most were so deep they had no chance of coming up, there also seemed no effort in the pull as a result they came up half way then went down . . . at the time I was paddling a Prijon Kodiak, this rolled like a dream, with a bit of effort it hand rolled too . . I was always taught that once upside down wait a second to settle, set your paddle at the side of the boat, flat blade forward (in the case of a screw roll) . . then lean forward and out to 90 degrees . . .as you snap back roll your body onto the rear deck lowering the resistance and voila you up . . . if you pull too hard your back over but then it's perfect time to practice your roll again.

I've never been on any sea kayaking course where they teach you to roll, I've only ever been taught by White Water junkies, what they teach is second to none on rolling, if anyone out there wants to roll I doubt you'd go far wrong by learning from your cousins in the funny little boats :-) . .
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Postby glupton » Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:21 pm

As someone who does whitewater as well as sea paddling I would say that it is not that important to learn to roll a sea kayak, as for most people it is a rare occassion that they fall in. In my view the most important skills are learning how to make your boat go where you want it to go in various weather conditions, and the ability to keep it upright. I have tried capsizing my capella when fully laden and it was a struggle to get it over.

The basic idea of most rolsl is to get the blade on or near the surface and use it to give yourself something to pull up on. The hip flick just means that you need less effort through your arms to get back upright again.
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Postby Goldspoon » Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:05 pm

I spent the summer in Greece with Rod at Sea Kayaking Greece (I think you had a trip out there Bonnie? ;-)

Anyway Rod taught many to roll and he also taught me how to teach to roll.

The philsophy is that you have individual 15 minute teaching sessions (no session should be longer).

With complete beginners *(reasonably fit, male or female) who have never rolled before (or attempted to roll) and with Rod teaching the screw roll:

By the end of session 1: 10% complete a roll on their own
By the end of session 2: 40% complete a roll on their own
By the end of session 3: 70% complete a roll on their own

The rest tend to get it soon after.

No joking. I was amazed. One guy had two fifteen minute sessions and was then rolling over and over trying to see how many could do in a minute! The next day hew was rolling both sides.

Most people who struggle seem to get 90% of the way and then fall back in the water.

Two tips:

Always finish the rolling looking down at the blade you used to come up with (rather than trying to throw your head up towards the sky). The other hand should "punch yourself in the cheek" (tucked in rather than being out in the air somewhere). Those two things together make a huge difference.
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Postby MikeB » Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:12 pm

Additionally - if the concept of the "hip flick" is elsusive, forget it. Instead, ram your knee "through the deck" on the side your paddle is on when you come up.

Works for me.

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Postby Yellerbelly » Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:26 pm

Hi Bonnie,

A few experiences from learning to roll over the last year. Currently at about 75 - 80% success rate.

Remember paddling sheepishly around the shallow end watching another candidate having to turn upside down and banging on the hull 5 seconds then 10 seconds before being turned back upright. I was thinking ' I don't fancy that much ' but it was useful to beat the instinct 'I'm stuck under a boat, I'm going to drown !'. I had time to think and not just go for the spraydeck.

Practice the movements upright first so that you can talk to your instructor and look where your paddle is. Found this recently. Helped me do a proper CtoC roll rather than a C to back deck sweep thing.

At my age the words 'flick' and 'hip' rarely occur together. 'Knee lift' is more like it.

Goggles, ear plugs, and noseclip give you more attempts. Getting your ducts and passages flushed with chlorine is distracting.

I think its worth learning. It helps confidence and I have had to roll in anger once during a 'wind and waves' coaching session. Being blown onto rocks while trying to turn on the spot ( forward movement required next time ) I went over down wind. The mantra ' right hand, left knee ' started the first successful roll. The second , less successful was followed by some swimming and rescue. So maybe I'm only on 50% success rate !

. . . . . . Ben
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Postby ChrisS » Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:53 pm

ram your knee "through the deck" on the side your paddle is on when you come up.


Trying to ram your knee through the deck is good advice; do it with the knee which is opposite the side you are using your paddle on; so if you are set up with the paddle on your left apply pressure with your right knee and vice versa.
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Postby glupton » Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:55 pm

You can also add to this by kicking down with the heel on the same side as you are using your paddle. Be careful if you use this combination - you may go all the way over and back in on the other side.
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Postby Jim » Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:27 pm

Owen wrote:
Jim wrote:
- The vast majority of people never capsize sea kayaks, Jim


I'm not sure that's right. We have a lad in our club who was capsizing all the time and for no good reason. It would be dead flat calm and all of a sudden, splash, in he'd go. Last winter he learnt to roll and hasn't capsized since.


One person out of how many sea kayakers that you know?

In the last 5 years or so I can only recall 1 capsize on a sea trip, by an inexperienced lad trying to launch off of steep shingle into about 18" or more of surf. We recovered him to the beach, where I was still waiting deputised as last man off to assist the others - I managed to get him away safely the second time. Once beyond the surf zone he never looked like falling in again. I seem to recall that my dad had a near miss halway in as the water receded leaving his stern high and dry but his bow floating - he did some high supporting off the bottom!

I have to go back about 15 years to recall the previous time I've seen someone capsize at sea (roll in the Bristol channel in an Anas Acuta, under high pressure!) - but since I didn't really do much sea paddling between then and about 5 years ago I'm not going to claim that as proof!

I am of course excluding people deliberately practicing rolling their sea kayaks, although since we mainly go for long trips I haven't seen anyone practising for a good few years - too much at stake!

However as I mentioned not falling in is no reason not to learn to roll, rolling can help with confidence in the techniquees used to stay upright.

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Postby tpage » Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:25 pm

Ability to roll is an important tool even in sea kayaking. In my view the best way to learn is to join a whitewater club, learn to roll in a pool and do some easy river trips. This way you will be rolling in real situations and it will become an instinctive reaction to capsizing- a skill that is easily transferred to the sea.
It is unwise to state that sea kayakers dont capsize.
I have rolled my kayak "for real" 2 times in the last couple of years- the first was due a rougue wave uncovering a reef off Staffa the second was during a big surf landing on the West coast of Islay.
In addition, as part of a group of 3 paddling in the Sound of Luing in a force 4 last Spring, one relatively experienced member capsized in the tide rips at Belnahua, and twice near Cuan. He failed to roll each time and had to be rescued. Capsizing while sea kayaking really does happen.

(edited for baddd spelling)-Tony
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Postby YvonneB » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:41 pm

Even thought rolling is a well discussed suject it is really interesting to get these views which confirm my feeling that in order to feel really confident at sea you must be able to roll, and roll well - don't want to use up all my oxygen trying to roll and then have to get spray deck off etc. . Although I havent capsized at sea yet, obviously you can never assume it wont happen, and it must be all too easy to lose contact with paddle and or boat if you have to bail out. The situation where I came closest to capsize was being blown sideways on to 4-5ft waves in a force 5, probably nothing to experienced people but terrifying to me at the time (4th time in a kayak). I stayed upright but if I had had a competent roll I would have known that I could have got up again using the waves to help me. I dont think wet exit practice was enough - I would have got out but probably let go of the boat and paddle and would have had to be towed swimming back to shore about 500m It has somewhat undermined my confidence (which was really kind of denial) and Im sure the only way to get it back properly is to learn to roll.

I'd love to do a course I've seen in Baja - bit expensive Im afraid though so Plas y Brenin here I come.
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Postby daveT » Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:36 pm

Hi, Plasy have Sea Kayak rolling clinics going on Sept, Oct, Dec this year...
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Postby Mark R » Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:35 pm

tpage wrote:It is unwise to state that sea kayakers dont capsize.


I don't think it is...for all the images folk have tried to portray of sea paddling as an adrenaline sport in recent years, most sea kayakers capsize rarely or never.

However...to conclude that rolling and rescue skills are therefore unimportant would be very unwise.
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Postby Twix » Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:21 pm

This stuff is good if you do get water in your ear and it won't come out.

http://www.simplyscuba.com/ProductDetails.aspx?StockID=867

In the short term if you can get the hang of the t rescue (easier than rolling) then that can help you feel more confident because although you aren't rolling independently, at least you dont have to bale out.
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Postby runswick2000 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:41 pm

MarkR wrote:most sea kayakers capsize rarely or never.


I guess this makes me special?!
Perhaps the greatest flaw in democracy is the idea that, if a majority of the population believes arrant nonsense, it somehow makes the nonsense true.

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Postby YvonneB » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:26 pm

Twix said

In the short term if you can get the hang of the t rescue (easier than rolling) then that can help you feel more confident because although you aren't rolling independently, at least you dont have to bale out.



I'm sure you are right and it's good advice, however if I had hung around waiting for a T rescue in Milos I'd still be there ..........
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Postby Jim » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:35 pm

Bonnie wrote:Twix said

In the short term if you can get the hang of the t rescue (easier than rolling) then that can help you feel more confident because although you aren't rolling independently, at least you dont have to bale out.



I'm sure you are right and it's good advice, however if I had hung around waiting for a T rescue in Milos I'd still be there ..........


Excellent!

But I think what Twix was meaning was that learning to T-rescue is good for training sessions where you can have a friend standing by ready to move into position you will spend less time swimming and more time learning. Also hanging onto someones bow is a good place to work on your hip pushover and get the feel for manouevring your body and boat around each other. They will be watching intently and be able to give you instant feedback and tips.

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Postby sparky2488 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:57 pm

Sorry to play devils advocate here but the "Sea Kayakers do not capsize so dont need to learn a roll", seems at best foolhardy, at worst down right dangerous !!!

I'd have thought for a group of paddlers that seem to pride themselves on learning how to read tides/weather conditions, fitting out their expensive boats with state of the art equipment to not spend a few hours learning to rescue yourself in the event of that highly unlikely event that you get your beards wet is just plain madness . . . . . I don't care what anyone says, in my book being able to get yourself back on the surface and able to paddle on IS the most important skill any paddler from any section of the sport should learn. . . . any other skill you learn only goes to enhance your enjoyment of your time on the water, being able to rescue yourself seems a a must when your paddling boats that have the turning circle of the titanic compared to river boats making assisted rescues difficult at the best of time.
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Postby Cornholio » Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:09 pm

As it stands I can only do a Pawlata with my 194cm river paddle in a fairly wide(67cm flat hulled) Dagger Honcho at pool training, and with my 220cm sea paddle I can manage it when one hand is next to the blade(having slid them along-probably effectively the same length as the shorter paddle). My flexibility is gash though, and I know this is restricting my attempts at a "standard" screw roll as I can't lean that far forward or up to the side...
But- I don't actually care as my Pawlata has become very (pool!) reliable, and I practice first going over then setting up, sometimes eyes shut throughout, and seeing how quick I can get my hands back in place once rolled up. It'll never be as quick as a "proper" roll obviously- but if I go over again I'll just have another go. I find it much less effort and more relaxed than any attempt at a screw roll I've had.
Looking forward to getting out and giving it a bash for real !(with a semi-dry wetsuit- freezing on the east coast all the time...!!!)
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T-rescue and Eskimo rescue

Postby ChrisS » Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:50 pm

T rescue (hip flick back up from the front of someone elses boat)

That sounds like a bow presentation Eskimo rescue. "T-rescue" usually means an assisted rescue involving getting a swimmer back in his boat after emptying the water out. Like an X-rescue.
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Re: T-rescue and Eskimo rescue

Postby TomWardill » Tue Feb 13, 2007 12:50 am

ChrisS wrote:
T rescue (hip flick back up from the front of someone elses boat)

That sounds like a bow presentation Eskimo rescue. "T-rescue" usually means an assisted rescue involving getting a swimmer back in his boat after emptying the water out. Like an X-rescue.


Interesting, I've only ever heard T-Rescue used in reference to the push off the bow, not as a swimmer rescue. What would be involved in a swimming T-Rescue? Just wondering if I've been using the term wrongly?

As for rolling, as mainly a white water/slalom paddler I can't imagine not learning to roll as one of my first skills, and it's always puzzled me why some sea kayakers appear not to do it, or treat it as some form of rare art.

The thing I found with rolling was to not panic, and to take the time to get to the set-up position. Learn how to set the paddle up while under water, rather than before you go over. It makes a huge different to how you approach it.
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