first time roll attempts

i was in maine this weekend, at a lake with my lookshah sport. i just recently got my NRS spray skirt in the mail. i decided to try some rolls

i found a quite little brook branching off of the lake… plenty deep, little to no current, and an easily accesible sandy bank.

i had no, and still have no, real knowledge of the proper process for a roll. so i just hucked myself… kind of

before trying to get upright, i just fell to either side a few times, to get used to exiting the boat from the spray skirt. i got that fairly quick.

because i was uncertain of the role of the paddle and arms during the roll, i left my paddle on the shore.

when i tried to roll, i could make it 3/4 of the way around… the last 1/4 of the roll obviously being the important part.

can someone offer, or point me in the direction of, a well explained step-by-step walk through of rolling a sea kayak?


Some Visual Aids

This will get you up

but it’s overkill.

Maybe you should invest in the videos …

The Kayak Roll or Eric Jackson’s Bracing and Rolling.

here is an onsite resource

try this

first roll
I found Jay Bambina’s 1st Roll very helpful. But try to take a class or lesson from someone, since getting feedback helps a lot.

Find A Practice Place
Once you take advantage of the good advice above regarding learning technique, I’ve found that having a good spot where you can practice without having to exit and re-enter each time helps. Some ideas are: a dock with a rescue rope (like I do), a nice beach and learn to bottom brace(pretty easy to do) when a roll fails, a pool where you can use the edge to come back up on a failed roll, or a partner’s bow and learn to do a bow rescue when a roll fails. I find that having a way to practice my myself gives me a lot more available time to practice.

Good luck…Lou

if I may
Pretty new to all this roling stuff also. I got “The Kayak roll” and it helped understand the mechanics.

BUT, the motivation for me to learn to roll was so that I could learn to lean a lot more and to exercise more fine tuning with the boat without worrying about having to do yet another wet exit or drag the boat to shore. After all, after getting a bombproof roll down, the idea is to get profficient enough to not have to use it except as another tool in your box for safety reasons. As Derek Hutchinson said when asked if he practiced rolls he answered “what for? I don’t capsize” (or something like that)

I did several days of 3/4 rolls as you mentioned. What I finally did was to put a paddle float on the opposite blade so that when I failed I switched blades and brought myself up with the paddle float. (Again so I didn’t have to wet exit and do paddle float rescues again)This also sort of helped with figuring out the positioning fo the blade on the surface. NOTE: I only allowed myself one day doing it this way as I did not want any dependency on the float.

I feel it is important with the first roll to have your forearms in exactly the same position on the side of the boat when beginning doing a sweep roll so that your mind stops thinking about it and automatically aligns itself there. As you sweep you turn your head into the water and snap the hip bringing the boat under you as opposed to rolling the boat up…kinda hard to explain but if you consciously keep your head tucked into your shoulder or just down and have swept the blade out properly, you will succeed in a very short time. I surprised the hell out of myself the first time and then the next day I ddi 10 in a row…it can be done! Of course as Flatpick will tell you this is all attributable to the fact that I bought a tempest 170 which practically rolls itself.

BTW, 50 yrs old, and 3 weeks into a performance kayak from an old town rush (very flat bottomed, 29" beam rec boat).

(Having said all that, I am scheduled for a rolling class at Florida Bay Outfitters on the 27th so I can learn how to do it corectly :slight_smile: )


Nice Idea
Switching blades to one that has a float on it when a roll fails at practice.

If you’ve read any of my posts regarding rolling, you know that my education has been very slow. I certainly haven’t gotten as far as you.


Head down
Keep your head down - just keep repeating that in your head. Don’t dig you paddle. Nice and easy sweep. You should be okay. The Kayak Roll video is also very good.

I’ve read your posts “the fear factor” I believe…don’t know what to tell you other than by eliminating the fact that I would have to do a wet exit by having the paddle float and having it in my mind that I had an alternative at any time greatly reduced my stress level if I didn’t make a roll. Heck there were times when I dove the paddle twice and still set back up again and got up specifically because the panic factor was gone. I knew I had two options: One was to roll up with the paddle float, and the other was to use it as a pillow and just rest my head above water until I was ready to go back down again.

having gotten rid of the danger/panic factor as much as possible, I could concentrate on keeping my head down and getting that sweep just right. The comment about keeping your forearms in the same spot on the boat comes directly from the video and was a big help in orienting the paddle above the water and setting it up to not dive.

Let me know of your progress. I am convinced you can do it. YOu are like me and overly analytical…you just haven’t systematically eliminated the things one by one that are causing you to fail.


In fact, drive head toward forearm…
… from the start, and then keep driving it. Who knows, that may actually start a hip snap and get you a roll.


– Last Updated: Aug-18-05 1:38 PM EST –

I'm stuck behind a desk all week, and I spend it plotting my next session (kind of like "Pinky and The Brain"). I'm thinking that I may do some drills without the float this week (I have the rope as a safety net). I've been working on the hipsnap. This week maybe I'll try working on trying to initiate the hipsnap with the raw blade.


I’ll do that
What I noticed when working with someone a couple of weeks ago, is that some leverage is needed to initiate the hipsnap. The hipsnap gets the boat most of the way up, and then a second dose of leverage is needed to completely right the boat. The person who was helping suggested that he uses a high brace (which does have the head down) for that very last piece, which I tried, and was able to do a completely unassisted half roll.


aching for shoulder dislocation
not only the elbow but the hand in back of the plane of the shoulders.

What I Am Having Good Luck With…

– Last Updated: Aug-18-05 4:56 PM EST –

is a C2C roll and leaning way BACK. You really don't have to keep your head down. Going to the lake tomorrow for more practice. Lalleluia, if you'd like a little video clip of this roll, send me an email. We made some clips last Friday of our hits and misses.

Layback helps… but still do the head…
… down thing.

Keeping the head down is really one with the hip snap. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the weight or buoyancy of the head.

To the extent that you don’t keep your head driving down (i.e. toward the forearm/shoulder) from beginning to end, you are compromising your hip snap and making everything harder and/or more marginal. Of course, you can still get up, but…

It’s worth it – believe me!


Even in a C2C roll
Even in a C2C roll you should keep your head down, otherwise you are engaging the wrong knee and consequently flipping yourself back over, thus negating the hip flick. The chin to the forearm idea is a good one, a good way to resist the urge to pull your head.

Pawlata Roll
I know all of this has been said before, but our group here in Sacramento were all struggling trying to get a truly reliable roll with mixed success. We got out Derek Hutchinsons book and followed the directions for the extended paddle or Pawlata roll and we seemed to all have instant success. With this roll there is so much room for error. You can have minor flaws in your form and still come up. It’s then just a matter of refining your technique.

I found his suggestion about making sure your bicep on your right arm had passed your nose before coming up very helpful.

With this roll you don’t need to be in the right mental mode and have everything precisely perfect just to right your boat. It just happens so easily, and because there is a longer sweep, you have time to think while your going through the motions.

Thank you Derek

Thank the Inuit…
… first, then Edi Pawlata then Derek H (who does credit the source). It’s the Greenland Standard Roll.

Kayak Rolling - History

“The Inuit people have been rolling their kayaks for many centuries; for them, the ability to roll was a basic survival technique. A missionary, writing in 1765, described ten methods by which an Inuit righted his craft, including full- and half-paddle rolls, and rolls using the harpoon or just the hands. A significant observation in the account is that once the paddle was positioned, the kayaker applied ‘a flick of the hips’ to recover.

The first non-Inuit known to have learned to roll was the Austrian, Edi Pawlata, who taught himself in 1927 after reading accounts by the explorers Nansen and Jophansen. An English explorer, Gino Watkins, learned directly from the Inuit in 1930, but unfortunately he disappeared on a trip to the Arctic soon afterwards. These early European rolls involved levering the body upright from the water with little or no hip flick.

It was not until about 1965 that the hip-flick was re-discovered, and it was this, together with the revolution in boat design and construction caused by the advent of rigid plastic boats, that led to rolling becoming a valid technique for white water paddlers.”

Taken off QCC’s site, but story can be found many places.