extended C-to-C roll

-- Last Updated: Jan-16-07 4:43 PM EST --

After searching around in the archived messages a bit, I ran across some discussion of the "extended paddle C-to-C roll." Can someone help me visualize what the term "extended paddle" means? I took my first rolling class this past weekend. Most of the people at the class were whitewater kayakers, so the instructor taught a C-to-C roll. After about an hour and a half, although I could get up with a paddle float with just a little air, I couldn't quite pull it off with just the paddle alone (admittedly I was pretty darned tired at that point).

I know I need to work on a better hip-snap and letting my head follow the rest of my body, but if there's a way to make it easier to nail the roll while working on those skills, I'd be all ears.

Oh, and something else I've been wondering about -- hip snap. How important is the "explosive" hip snap? My instructor harped on it quite a bit, but I've seen a demonstration and videos of people doing rolls in sea kayaks that look much more graceful than explosive. Is that just a product of good form, or is there something else going on here?

“extended” would be same as
a pawlata roll (checkout http://www.useakayak.org/roll_extended_paddle.html).

Some Experience
The extended paddle is simply that. Move your grip with both hands so the blade is out further away from your boat. More leverage.

Once you develop a ‘hip snap’ you’ll love rolling. I think ‘boat twist’ might be a better term for it though. You are actually twisting the boat up with your thigh as well as the obliques. Think about lifting with your knee as you flip the hip.

Until you get a good ‘snap’ or ‘twist’ you can roll nicely by finishing with your head way back. Just lean way back before/as you come up out of the water.

Eric Jackson’s DVD “EJs Rolling and Bracing” helped me a lot in learning to roll.

hand position
For an on-side roll, move your left hand down to the end of the paddle blade and move your right hand down so your hands are normally spaced. Keep both hands in front of your face and your left hand and elbow close to your body. Do a normal hip snap. Or better yet, do a lay back as in Jay Babina’s video.

“How important is the “explosive” hip snap?” Not that important. For a textbook C-to-C you get support from the paddle from the resistance of the water to the paddle breaking the surface and to it traveling downward. The less support you have the stronger your hip snap will need to be. So, for example, if your outside paddle blade is not above the water after the sweep you will have a harder time and need a more “explosive” hip snap. Probably just as important, if not more, is the timing of your maximum energy output in the hipsnap. Many WW boats with strong secondary stability need a delay in the point of maximum energy output until you reach that secondary stability point. The usual explosive hip snap with most of the energy expended at the beginning won’t cut it.

In my opinion the C-to-C is the hardest roll to learn for most people and generally the least reliable unless you are young, strong, flexible, and not overweight. Learn a sweep roll or the EJ roll.

One one of the most complete rolling
tutorials on the web can be found here:


It covers C to C, Screw Rolls, Back Deck, Hybrid, etc… videos and text

Explosive versus slow

– Last Updated: Jan-17-07 6:24 PM EST –

Comment on the extended paddle - while it is easier for most, if you are a klutz like me you may find that as the blade gets more out there you'll have a tough time keeping it at a useful angle to the water. I could only do an extended paddle roll with a Euro paddle after I got reliable with the paddle in the normal position. Extended is the normal starting position for a greenland paddle, but that wood stick operates much more generously in a roll than a Euro.

As to explosive versus slow - it comes down to purpose and a little bit the boat. If you are really in messy stuff, like rock gardens or WW, you want the hip snap to be quite strong and as quick as you can do it and still be reliable. That's because it is only a matter of time before body parts and rocks start connecting if you stay down there mulling things over. Also, in current etc you may need a very powerful snap (or however you want to think about it) to overcome water movement that is trying to keep you down.

Then there is the boat - WW boats, especially the planing hull boats, tend to need a harder thrust to get them past the da-whup point. Traditional sea kayaks tend to respond to a more gentle continuous motion from the paddler - it's the nature of the hulls. The benefit of that slower roll is that it requires more detailed control from the paddler - maybe you could call it a more conscious roll?

For you for now - I'm no expert but personally I'd go for the power your instructor wants. Get it now so that you have the body memory and something that'll work in nasty conditions. It is much easier to go back and refine a big explosive hip snap than it is to add power after you've initially learned to roll - by then it may have become too easy to depend on the paddle as much as you can get away with rather than as little as possible.

Explosive hip snap…
A strong hip snap dosen’t hurt , but an explosive hip snap seems to be more required in ww than sea kayaking.

I find my ww boat more demanding than my sea kayaks as far as requiring a more affirmative hip snap.

As far as learning to roll, I can’t say enough positive about Jay Babina’s “First Roll.” I also think Eric Jackson’s "E.J.‘s Rolling and Bracing’ is excellent.

The extended paddle
has been adequately covered above, as has the “explosive” vs. gradual hip snap. I would try to learn with as quick a hip snap as you can muster. Once you’re able to do that, you’ll find it easier to roll in less-than-perfect conditions, such as when your paddle is about 2 feet under water when you initiate the roll due to water currents or something. If you can roll a wide WW boat, you can roll just about anything. The first time I rolled a sea kayak with my normal hip snap I snapped myself right over the other side and had to roll again!

I also second learning a sweep roll if you’re having diffuculty with the c to c thing. More powerful roll, easier to do if you have flexibility issues.


hip snap…
…I kind of think it’s a bad name.

I think of it more like kneeing somebody in the groin.

By explosive, you can’t sneak into it. Do it

with authority.

Others have doubtless said this: once you get it,

you’ll wonder why it was ever so hard.

The times they are a changing
The strict C to C roll - dependant on a strong hip snap is the greatest reason that rolling was always consideded a major feat. As you know it’s not easy. That’s why there is such a huge percentage of failure at pool sessions teaching that method to beginners.

See if you can find someone to teach a lay back style of roll for starters. If you use a conventional paddle you can extend it a bit or even hold the blade. The greater leverage will make it easier in the beginning. 100% of paddlers are rolling in about a half hour with that method. Later you can work on other rolls and develop a good hip snap and a C to C style of roll too. Some people take a long time to develop a decent hip snap. It’s also dependant on a good fit in the boat with good thigh braces. With a lay back style roll and an extended paddle you can cheat all over the place. A Greenland paddle is even easier.

WW roll vs. sea kayak roll
"The strict C to C roll - dependant on a strong hip snap is the greatest reason that rolling was always consideded a major feat. "

It’s a chicken and egg thing. For a long time, sea kayakers debate whether they even NEED to roll. Some argue it can’t be done. And those who could roll are considered “experts”, etc.

But for white water kayaking, rolling isn’t a matter of “if” you need it, but a matter of “how soon” you can nail it. In the white water world, rolling isn’t a “major feat” but just a step beyond “basic skill”. So, rolling for a long time is largely influenced by the white water kayakers.

In white water, a forward finish is pretty much drilled into most beginner’s brain. So a layback finish is frown upon. And, due to irritated water, it’s generally consider less than reliable to use a sweep roll. Hence, the strong preference to C2C. Since the majority of white water kayakers are young and fit, they eventually get the C2C despite its relative difficulty.

That’s what I think why there’s such a strong emphasis on teaching C2C as a first roll, by the white water folks. Now that there’re a lot more sea kayakers and better fitting sea kayaks, I think the “other” rolls will receive more notice. Maybe even change the prefered roll for first timers.

Yep, cat’s out of the bag
Rolling really is easy and a gateway skill, rather than being advanced/difficult.

Soon, thanks to the likes of Jay, EJ, and most especially to the Inuit and Greenland enthusiasts - rolling will be more commonly though of as a “basic” skill for sea kayakers, much as it is for WW.

Many more options now, different rolls, different ways to learn. Something to suit a WIDE range of physical types and personalities. From there, learning other rolls is fun.

first roll
"From there, learning other rolls is fun."

That’s quite right!

Although I learn my first roll as a C2C, I use a sweep roll for my sea kayak. It’s just easier that way. And I still use C2C for white water.

First Roll
My first reliable roll was Jay’s. I was having very little success starting with a c2c.

Then I learned other rolls (still in process).

Now, when my ‘regular’ roll (sort of a c2c) fails me I often fall back to Jay’s roll and it brings me up.

BTW, my observation is, as noted by Greyak, rolling is no longer considered an advanced skill in sea kayaking.

kayak rolling in sea kayaking
"rolling is no longer considered an advanced skill in sea kayaking."

While rolling is no more difficult for sea kayak than for WW kayak, I kind of doubt it’ll be as “basic” in sea kayak circle as in WW. The simple fact is, most sea kayaker don’t flip as often as WW kayakers. So the need is a bit less urgent.

There’re a lot of paddlers who “discover” the “fun” of rolling. But that’s almost becoming a different disciplin of kayaking now. I tend to think of rolling in kayak akin to BMX to biking. Having that special skill helps in general. But for many, praticing those special skill is becoming an end itself, even if they never have any need to use it in day-to-day paddling.

agree with most everything but…
your statement regarding the “irritated water.” For highly aerated water (how we refer to it here in the midwest) I find that a slash roll (modified diving sweep roll) is a great roll because it slashes down to the green water instead relying on any surface tension.

I disagree somewhat at well
Use of the C2C by whitewater paddlers is too often just an unexamined continuation of past practice. In reality it has a number of disadvantages that make it the least suitable WW roll. One of those is that the C2C is comparatively slow. Except for the extended paddle roll it is probably the slowest generally used roll. When you need to roll up quickly, which in harder WW is fairly common, you need a faster, more reliable roll. People who creek, where this is especially acute, have turned in increasing numbers to the back deck roll. With a sweep roll/slash roll you are upright before you even start your hip snap with a C2C. If necessary you can do a sweep to C in difficult water which gets you out of some kinds of danger earlier. The EJ roll, which is essentially a C2C with a layback, is equally slow but for most people is far more reliable. On the river I rarely see anyone miss a sweep roll or an EJ roll. I often see people miss their C2C.

Sea kayakers and sea kayakers
The whole rolling thing has come up fast enough that it is getting more important than before to be clearer about what is a sea kayaker, at least when it comes to rolling. For a long time, that seemed to mean anyone in a 14 ft or longer boat who paddled lakes and quite sheltered salt water, as well as aggressive sea kayakers in expedition length boats taking on major conditions.

The latter group takes rolling pretty much as a required skill, includes people who have dealt with tidal races and current at least a bit - in sum people who are likely to try and get their roll about as early as WW folks. The transition boat folks may wait ages before trying, and not feel like working too hard when they do because for them it may not be a critical skill.

I am not making any value judgements here - just saying that you really can’t talk about “sea kayakers” and rolling in broad statements. It just doesn’t work these days.

“Just beacuse you kayak doesn’t…
…make you a kayaker.” - Steve Maynard.

Ergo, just because you paddle a sea kayak doesn’t make you a sea kayaker.

An end in itself?
While you could make a case for that and find people who roll largely for it’s own sake - if you ask those people most of the skills off the pond too.

I also cannot agree at all that rolling is a less basic or fundamental skill for sea kayakers simply because the average number of capsizes is less for Sea than WW. People use that lack of urgency thing as an excuse to downplay and avoid rolling. Please don’t encourage them. If people wait to learn 'til they urgently need it - they are coming to the party a bit too late, no?

I’ve had all of one unintentional capsize (1000s of intentional). By your logic I really had no need to bother my self with rolling beyond maybe some idle curiosity. Maybe so, but I’m sure glad my curiosity and stubbornness won out over my laziness and ignorance (aka - fear).

Fear of capsize has probably capsized more paddlers than anything else. Pretty easy to lose that limitation.

Something else needs to be tossed into the mix here: Capsize recovery may be the obvious use/benefit of learning to roll - but it’s tip of the iceberg as far as I’m concerned. A lot of other things are learned along he way too. One of THE biggest reasons to get rolling down is it reduces the capsize potential even further. Dramatically so for most. The better your roll/brace (same thing) the harder you are to capsize and the less you have to do to avoid one. Rolling ability greatly enhances boat control and confidence - and has a positive impact on all other aspects of paddling.

All of this is toghther is what is slowly being realized in the wider audience. Perceptions changing from closed minded attitude of “why bother?” to a simpler and more open “why not?”