best paddle offset for back deck roll?

i’m going to try to teach myself the back-deck roll on my waveski. here’s a link to a video of the roll as i want to learn it:

so far so good. only, i’m a lefty and my understanding is that my current paddle – with a 45-degree offset – is only going to get in my way. bear in mind, i haven’t even gotten in the water yet to try this roll out, so my knowledge comes only from what i’ve read. and this is what i just came across during my internet travels:

"let’s begin upside-down, leaning up against the back deck of your boat, facing the bottom of whatever body of water you’re in… the first step is to change your vulnerability profile. We do this by turning your torso to one side or another… and your choice (which direction you turn) determines which paddle blade you’re going to use. For our purposes, let’s turn to our left, meaning that our right paddle blade will be the active one.

“Begin by cocking back the wrists (visualize opening the throttle on a motorcycle) and setting up. Note that for most paddles with >30 degree offset, the inactive blade will automatically climb when rolling up on the right, but will dig when rolling up on the left. For flatwater ambidexterity, a low-offset paddle will make this much easier when going to the left.”

wow! what this means to me is that if i’m going to the left – and i am – then i need to maybe use a paddle with much less of an offset.

again, i haven’t tried thr roll out, so i don’t know if my current 45 degrees is going to in fact be a problem or maybe i’m just looking at everything wrong. but i thought i’d ask here and see what yall thought.


Reverse sweep roll
I would think that zero offset would be easiest (My GP bias showing here), and 90 degrees would be fairly easy as well. The reverse sweep is my “go to” roll when all else fails, because it can be done with little effort in most kayaks.

Check out & see if there is a reverse sweep roll video or two there. They have a big rolling video archive.



Whatever angle you normally use it at…
… while paddling out and surfing.

I Learned Backdeck Roll
with a 45 offset. You should learn it with whatever paddle you favor. It is easier with a smaller offset since the effect of the inboard blade is minimized and your don’t have to pay as much attention.

Another thing with smaller offsets is that doing some of the tricks that involved a backdeck roll, e.g. and air screw. You can actually cheat by slapping the inboard blade first flat on the water to initiate getting the boat in the air and rotating. The completion of the actual sweep of the supposed active (outboard) blade completes the roll and the move.

My sense is that some of the other play moves are also easier with a smaller offset.


thanks …
thanks, guys, for weighing in. btw, sing / are you a lefty or a righty? my assumption is that a 45 degree offset makes this particular role easier for a righty, harder for a lefty …

I Am A Righty But…

– Last Updated: Nov-30-05 2:41 PM EST –

at this point my strong side is my left, whereas the right is more my "offside."

BTW, here is a site that shows "airscrew" and other techniques. Look at Jim Blakeney's "Air Screw" and you'll see what I am talking about. Also note his use of a low offset bent shaft.


Discussed on Boater Talk recently
The consensus seemed to be that for the full 360 keep-your-head-dry version (the video is the 180 version) the maximum offset is about 45 degrees. Smaller makes it easier. But I see no reason why it would matter if you can roll a regular kayak on both sides.

you got me there, dr d – i’m a one-side only roller and not even that on most days. so, i need all the advantages i can get and, in this case, proper offset might just be one.

The other left?
Righty or lefty shouldn’t make any difference, should it? Left and right paddles are offset in opposite directions so the blade angles relative to body positions should be the same, just a mirror image.

Just thinkin out loud. I don’t use an offset.


makes a difference…
For a backdeck roll, a feathered paddle allows one side to roll easily and the other side will be difficult as the non working blade will be providing resistance against the sweep. With a feathered paddle, I can do a smooth backdeck roll on my onside and a not so smooth backdeck roll on my offside due to one of the blades catching in the water. My whitewater playboating paddles are unfeathered (optimal for the backdeck roll) so it is easy on both sides.

Since the original poster only has a one sided roll, assuming he has the more common right side roll, the backdeck will work fine as the right hand feather will only interfere on the off side. (Remember, since it’s on the back deck, your onside typically initiates on your left and the offside typically initiates on the right.)

left left left
sadly, i initiate on the left. that being the case, no offset would be best, i gather. but what about wayne’s 90-degree thought?

Here’s The Other Possibility…
Backdeck roll is low brace roll. Use the Steyr – reverse high brace roll – the inboard blade is almost out of the water.

Any roll in the waveski, the CRITICAL component is pulling up on the outboard footstrap with your foot. That’s the equivilent of the hip snap when rolling a kayak.

yeah but…
Ok I get the idea that a feathered paddle makes one side harder than the other for a specific paddler. Why would you assume a lefty’s one sided roll would be the more common right side roll? It’s only more common because rightys are more common, not because it’s easier, yes?

What I was getting at is that a left handed person’s onside roll shouldn’t be any more difficult than a right handed person’s onside roll, if they are each using a paddle feathered for their dominate hand. In other words, leftys are not more disadvantaged than rightys. It’s just that their “easy” sides will be opposite.

I’m not trying to be argumentative, really. I just got the impression the original poster was saying his lefthandedness was a handicap. Maybe I’m misreading the question.


well now …
okay, here, once again, my general paddling ignorance may be messing me up.

you write: “What I was getting at is that a left handed person’s onside roll shouldn’t be any more difficult than a right handed person’s onside roll, if they are each using a paddle feathered for their dominate hand. In other words, leftys are not more disadvantaged than rightys. It’s just that their “easy” sides will be opposite.”

hmmm, come to think of it, i’m not sure my paddle is feathered for my dominate hand (i.e. left). perhaps you could tell me? for one thing, my bicycle-handlebar-type grip is on the right side of the paddle. for another, when the blade on the right side is exactly perpendicular to the ground, the top of the blade on the left side is angled forward 45 degrees. can you tell anything from that and, if yes, what conclusions can one draw about offsets for a lefty w the back deck roll?

yep, the other left…
“when the blade on the right side is exactly perpendicular to the ground, the top of the blade on the left side is angled forward 45 degrees.”

Ok I’m no expert but it sounds like you’re using a paddle feathered for a righty.


my assumptions…
I assumed that the paddler was using a right hand feathered paddle. For some reason, in sea kayaking (similar to the snowboarding goofy vs standard stance), there does not appear to be a correlation between dominant hand and paddle hand control. Heck, back in the day racers used to learn left hand control because they thought it was faster. Now everyone is right hand control. I agree that most people who feather learn right hand control because their equipment forces them to (although adjustable ferrules give you many options) or that was the way they were taught. As the back deck roll is influenced by the blade orientation rather than what you learn as “off-side” or “on-side”, that is the determinant factor of which side is easier.

What we know so far is that swellum is left handed (which doesn’t matter) but also that he has a right hand control bent shaft paddle. Now what we need to know is whether he rolls up on his right side or left side to get the full picture. If he rolls up on his right side noramlly, he’s ok in regards to feathering. If he rolls up on his left side normally, then we need to start either learning his offside or consider decreasing the paddle feather.

Outboard ?

– Last Updated: Dec-01-05 1:11 AM EST –

I'm confused face down rolling up so left side comes up first, you pull (drive knee towards your torso) on which strap?

Whichever Side…
you want to come up on, that’s the foot you want to pull up on. So, you are sweeping left, pull up on the left foot.

The reason, I refer to it as the “outboard” side is because it on the outer edge of your sweep and rotation and has the greatest range of movement.


the facts …
schizopak et al:

here are my specifics:

1/ left handed (though that doesn’t matter)

2/ paddle is right hand control

3/ paddle is straight shaft

4/ and i roll up on my left side.

5/ and i want to learn this roll on the onside

given these facts, what say you now about offset? and what about wayne’s idea of either around zero or around 90?

thanks for the clarification…

– Last Updated: Dec-01-05 8:45 AM EST –

I incorrectly thought you were talking about a bent shaft from the "bicycle handlebar" description. Given what you described, a capsize left-backdeck rollup right scenario would be difficult to learn initially as you are not currently comfortable with hipsnapping on that side. Since you will want to capsize right and backdeck roll up on your left, I think a zero degree offset would be the best option. 90 degrees puts quite a strain on your wrists and also bracing is not intuitive. A zero degree offset would make bracing easier and also help you achieve this roll. Also, since you are surfing a waveski and you won't be doing long crossings into the wind, you won't lose anything by getting rid of the offset.