A kayak rolling question

-- Last Updated: May-02-11 2:15 PM EST --

I tried to search out topics that addressed this, but without luck.

My wife is new to Kayaking, and her first boat is a "Nifty 430" by Delsyk. She has gotten a Neoprene sprayskirt, and removed the rigid seat back and installed a back band in the boat.

She is taking a class that is geared towards WW boating in a pool nearby, and part of the lessons are rolling in the WW boats provided.

She would like to be able to roll her own boat, and may get the chance to try in a couple weeks during the 2 final classes.

My question is this: We are getting differing feedback on if it's realistic for her to try to learn/roll in a 24" wide boat. We have seen a video on youtube showing a Necky Elaho being rolled, and it looks similar to hers; but that person may have years of experience.
There is a photo series showing a 430 next to an Elaho here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59078921@N00/sets/72157619025493469/with/3587002238/

So, is it realistic to expect to be able to learn to roll in this craft, or is this setting her up for disappointment?

Thanks for any feedback on this!

How big is she?
Her boat has a cockpit that is 35 inches long inside if I found right. First can she hit the thigh braces? If she is coming short or barely touching them, that’s a bigger problem than the width.

The width is going to be more difficult than a narrower boat, but a good fit may help.

That said, learning to roll is harder than pulling one off once you have nailed it in a forgiving boat. So while the boat is rollable, if she is loose in there or the volume is way big for her, it won’t produce a happy learning curve.

Re the Elaho, beg to differ but that chined hull is way easier for rolling than a lot of boats. We have one and are familiar with them.

She’s not tiny, ~160lbs
She has done some “fitting” and the boat is snug to her OK. The thigh braces are OK, as far as her being locked into them.

I don’t understand what you disagree about as far as the Elaho; her boat has a multi chine as well? I though the hulls looked similar?

Yes Rolling is Possible
The 24 " width should not stop her from rolling. She will need good contact with her boat ( thighs/knees, hips feet) to help with her roll. Learning with the WW boats will help as they normally have a better set up for contact vrs touring or rec boats

Good teacher
will have her rolling in 30 minutes or less. That’s my guess. This is an easy skill that is over-intellectualized by fearful, or timid folk.

Hardest folk to teach are the paddle clubbers who’ve kayaked for a long time and convinced themselves rolling is advanced magic (my experience with teaching). Help her go at it with a clear head and open mind. Listen to the coaching and have fun.

As long as she can get a decent fit and grip of the kayak she’ll have no issue rolling it. The physics are the same.

Have fun.

she should be able to roll
If I remember hearing right, the Nifty was made by Mike Neckar, who was one of the original people behind Necky Kayaks. It is very similar to the old Looksha Sports.

If she can fit in the boat well enough to have contact at her feet, thighs, and butt, it should be rollable. There are people who say that if you can get that contact in any boat, you should be able to roll it (and I have seen a video of rolling instructor Helen Wilson rolling a recreational boat, which is much wider and larger cockpit than the Nifty).

But even if rollable by someone, the next question is will it roll easy enough for her to do it. Some boats roll easy, some not so easy. I can roll a Looksha Sport (did it in the surf this past Saturday, actually). Guess she will just have to try.

ps - The Fall 2010 issue of California Kayaker Magazine had a review of Helen Wilson’s rolling video. Might be worth checking out. The magazine can be read online for free at http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html.

My Experience…

– Last Updated: May-02-11 6:21 PM EST –

The classes geared toward ww will likely not teach you a layback roll and that roll might very well help with that boat. Pick up Eric Jackson's Bracing and Rolling DVD and try rolling his way. Every time he says "hip snap" you think "thigh snap". Right that boat with your knee and not your hip.

Ww folks will talk about a layback being risky. Jackson and his kids are all alive with no disfigurement.


Limitations of pics online

– Last Updated: May-02-11 6:45 PM EST –

On the pics I saw, it wasn't clear to me that the chining was continued around in the Delsyk the same way as the Elaho. Of course with the latter I can go look at the real thing too, so see more detail.

A post below indicates that the designer for this boat series came out of Necky and works with one of the Looksha boats, also diamond chined, so I am probably all wet.

At her size, with a good fit and chining that is similar to the Elaho, the 24 inch width should not be an issue. In this case she should give it a go to learn rolling in her own boat.

Just watch for the issues named by Kudzu. If the instructors try to get her going on a traditional C-to-C, and it is frustrating her, do not pass go and find an instructor used to working with long boats. There is no reason to become dreadfully frustrated by rolling - there are lots of approaches and the same one doesn't work for everyone.

Most modern play boats
are very wide across the hull and make for hard C to C type rolls. As a result there’s been a move to more sweep in the rolling with these hulls.

I think too much focus on this or that type of roll is one of the things that can confuse folk and create needless complexity. JMO

use provided boat
It is realistic to learn rolling in that boat, but considering confines of the pool she will have more fun in a shorter ww boat.

Skills transfer, if she learns to roll correctly, she will roll nifty - sea kayaks are, usually, easier to roll than WW boats ( even the older displacement type hulls)

The counterargument would be bad fit in the WW boat - some have movable pegs/bulkheads, some don’t. The ones that don’t might create issues.

Try not to focus on rolling, instead try to learn how learn rolling. You need to know what the body has to do, what common mistakes are, how to get rid of them.

Good luck, and have fun.

Looks like a perfectly nice boat with thigh hooks. Should not be a problem. Tell her to start with an extended paddle roll (Pawlata).


I Understand… Simple is Good.
It’s just that I walked away from those ww-boats-only classes with such a crappy roll. Very discouraging. Jackson’s DVD, good tips from fellow PNetters, and the GP helped me tremendously.

thank you salty!!!

– Last Updated: May-02-11 9:41 PM EST –

This is not black magic, folks. I've seen people of all shapes and sizes perform pretty and ugly rolls - all effective. And I've seen well-meaning instructors and fellow paddlers unnecessarily mystify the roll. A good TEACHER is key - almost anyone can learn to roll but not everyone can teach.

It is a simple reflex action. This is not hitting a driver straight off the tee every time. And the inuit didn't mystify the roll to each other.

Don't make this rocket science, folks.

Fit looks good in the boat. It’s key not to fall out…

The main thing is that it’s fun… and you guys seem to be getting in that groove …

High back deck
Only downside of this boat is a high back deck which might make layback rolls a little more difficult.

almost anyone can learn to roll but not
"…almost anyone can learn to roll but not everyone can teach."

Excellent and accurate point!

Those edges and diamond nonsense
mean zero to rolling. ZERO. They may mean something to catalogue readers, but they are nothing more than marketing hype. Believe me on this one…

Plus un-feather the paddle.

Didn’t say it was the edges per se
The Elaho is a fun, great boat for rolling. The Delsyk it appears has some similarities in design lineage, thru the designer. So the two should relate.

If it required diamond chines to be a fun rolling boat, my little fat very round Piedra or the Nordlow would have no excuse to be such fun rollers.


– Last Updated: May-07-11 5:34 AM EST –

You're right. I hope the rear deck isn't too high. I borrowed a QCC 600 once and it felt like the back deck was hitting my shoulder blades.