Greenland rolls help

Hi, new to the board here and I have a question about greenland rolls. My girlfriend and I just purchased used kayaks (Valley avocet rm for me and ws tempest 165 for her) This is my first foray into sea kayaking. I purchased some greenland paddles and we have been loving them so far. We have spent probably a total of 10 hours in lakes and rivers learning self rescue, rolls and sculling/bracing. This is all self taught, working weekends makes it near impossible to sign up for a kayaking clinic in my area. We both have the standard greenland roll down so that we can hit it nearly everytime. I guess my question is which greenland rolls are going to be most useful in the real world. From what I can tell it seems the standard greenland and the storm roll would be the two best options? I’m just trying to figure out where I should direct my efforts in terms of learning rolls. I would love some more informed input on the matter though. Thanks in advance.


Just my opinion
but I like the sculling roll. One advantage is the continuious sculling stroke qives you more time to adapt to conditions. have some good discussion and instruction.

Good luck


Dan - it sounds like you are off to a good start. You have two nice boats and have found the charm of the GP.

The standard roll will do you well in the real world. That said, I’d recommend you work on side sculling, balance brace, and angel roll. Mastering these will allow you to “own” your rolls. Body flexibility is helpful - do some yoga if you need to improve this.

Work on rolling proficiency on both sides, and on switching sides underwater. Each new roll you work on will improve your overall skills, making other rolls more certain and consistent.

Have fun with it!


For Me

– Last Updated: May-20-12 6:04 AM EST –

There are just two kinds of rolls. Quick, snappy rolls with a lot of knee-lift righting the boat and slower, head-back rolls that rely mostly on the paddle sculling you upright. The snappy rolls are in the C to C family that the white water folks use. The slow, sculling rolls are a Greenland thing. When you brace with a Euro paddle you pretty much push the paddle down. When you brace with a GP you push the paddle down and FORWARD. The lift you get from the GP when you get that down-and-forward sculling thing is tremendous. Practice sculling. After you discover that lift you can finish your rolls with that brace. Learn and practice snappy and slow rolls and braces on both sides and you will be safe and confident in conditions that you don't feel good in now.

Oh yeah. Real world. Practice going over with your paddle bungied / bunjeed / strapped to your deck. Free up your paddle while upside down then roll up. Again, practice coming up on both sides this way.

A new video
I just purchased the video “This is the Roll”.

Great video and not the long winded pool video. Lots of real world situations with greenland rolls.

You are on the right track and the rolls they show in detail are the normal lay back roll, Storm roll and the forward finishing rolls. Highly detailed video and well shot. Anyhow wether you buy that or not, most people in real situation go for the one that’s most trusty because you want to breath not show off. Practicing trick and advanced rolls, allows you to come up without a formal set up and that’s how you will be in a real capsize.

10 hrs. and you’re rolling with no instruction?? Do you give lessons?

Something esle
"Rollers" will disagree, but there is one thing about roll everyone needs to remember - you can never rely on it 100%. Because your roll rate might be 100% in a pool and maybe 99% in real-life situation when you are playing, but when the conditions are bad, you are tired and coming up from a roll throws you into the same situation that has capsized you - your roll is not going to be bullet-proof, ever. Practice everything elase as much as you do your rolls - and hopefully you will never need it. And try rolling cold, wet, without nose clip and eyes open. I had some mean fun with a paddling partner last week - he said he can roll anytime - so when we were drifting in calm water and watching ospreys I yanked his paddle and capsized him. After some struggle he wet exited and we did T-rescue. He was mighty pissed at me for a while too… I need to watch out now :smiley:

Oh Yeah
"Oh yeah. Real world. Practice going over with your paddle bungied / bunjeed / strapped to your deck. Free up your paddle while upside down then roll up. Again, practice coming up on both sides this way."

Always keep your ‘spare’ GP right there at hand.

RubricOfRuin will make you glad you heeded my advice!

Greenland rolls
thanks for the input everyone. It’s always good to hear from people with some experience. jaybabina- im thinking I might pick up that dvd, thanks for the recommendation.

Second Jay
And add ability to roll on both sides and in rough water…

hahaha, I dont think you’d want lessons from me. I purchased the “rolling with sticks” dvd. it has some pretty good instruction although a lot if the info is free on the qajaqrolls site. the explainations are really clear and the standard roll actually seemed fairly intuitive after a handful of real bad attempts on my part

Most ww paddlers are using a slash
or screw roll, rather than a c2c, especially because c2c may not work well with some short kayaks. I learne c2c but mostly rely on slash roll for the first attempt.

Roll Progression
I put my favorite progression on the Qajaq USA website at

In the “real world” I rely on the standard roll the vast majority of the time, but also use the storm roll and the side scull fairly often, depending on the environment.

I think it’s important to have at least one roll that is as bombproof as you can make it, ON BOTH SIDES. I would feel safer with a companion that had that nailed, rather than someone who knew a bunch of recovery techniques, but wasn’t particularly strong at any of them.

That said, as I posted in another thread, working on a wide variety of rolls, once you have a good functional roll, will finely tune your spatial awareness (ability to tell up from down and boat/body position while getting trashed in surf, etc). Once you have developed this ability you can roll instinctively, and often with very little effort, by blending different techniques together. That’s when you stop “painting by numbers” (learning the roll list) and start to create.

To an observer you will seem to “magically popup” in difficult conditions. If asked “How did you do that”? – you won’t be able to field an answer. You felt what was happening, the forces at play, understood how your boat/body/paddle was oriented and simply reacted appropriately.

To paraphrase another poster, even if you become a “kayak virtuoso” you should have backup techniques in case the unthinkable happens and your bombproof roll bombs. Even if you go years between swims, stuff happens out there…

Greg Stamer

roll progression
thanks for that link. That is just what I’m looking for! I like how the progression is laid out and how the reasoning is explained. I’ll be memorizing that list and watching some videos tonight then jumping in the ocean tomorrow for a bit of practice.