Greenland techniques with playboat?

Ok, I’m not a Greenland style paddler but I do share the same love of rolling as Greenland style enthusiasts. I may switch to a Greenland paddle full time someday but I assume that will be when I “someday” build a SOF kayak. :slight_smile: My question is, are advanced Greenland techniques possible in a whitewater kayak? I know many of the rolls (straightjacket etc.) depend on low volume and low decks for laybacks but I was curious what exactly was possible.

Basically I was in a pool session today (borrowed an RPM) and was practicing some rolling tricks. I was trying to see if it was possible to elbow roll the RPM but I wasn’t even close. I can roll the RPM with a single fist but the elbow roll was eluding me. I checked out Qajaqusa and it seems that even Maligiaq has trouble elbow rolling many larger volume kayaks so I’m wondering what chance do I have! Also, I was trying out the spine roll as well and although I can get most of the way up, I couldn’t manage to clear the rear deck to finish the roll and usually would just be balance bracing next to the boat. I managed to do one extremely sloppy spine roll but my current level of arm/back flexibility isn’t allowing me to hold the paddle as high up on my back as would be optimal. Any tips? I’m going to try these things in my playboat tomorrow but as it is a more difficult boat to roll than the RPM, I’m not sure what the chances are of success. On the other hand it does have much less volume and a lower rear deck which may help me out. (I’m sure true Greenlanders are cringing at the thought of me practicing these techniques in plastic whitewater boats!)

i usually try most of the rolls I do
in my sea kayak with my GP in a ww boat too. I usually use a pyranha S:6, or S:8.

I can do all of my rolls with the paddle.

The reverse low brace roll

roll with the paddle held in the crook of the arm

the roll with the paddle behind the head

the spine roll

the crucifix roll

the storm roll

steyr roll

i can handroll with one hand on both sides, but I can’t do the elbow roll in any kayak yet, so I don’t think that’s any indication.

really the skills I have trouble with in a ww kayak are, balance bracing. I seem to be able to do this only in very low volume sea kayaks so far, I can do it in my silhouette, but not in the S_6.

As far as I know there isn’t much of a rule saying

you can’t do these maneuvers in a white water boat. I think it’s good practice.

sounds good!
I actually can balance brace easier in whitewater boats than in a sea kayak. Of course I have never been in a sufficiently low volume sea kayak to test how they balance brace. The high volume kayaks I have tried require me to have a PFD and paddle to balance brace while I don’t need either one for my playboat. I’ll keep trying the elbow roll with the hope that it is indeed possible in a whitewater boat. As for the spine roll, any tips on hand positioning and finishing the roll? I have never felt so awkward as I did when I was attempting to complete the roll. I basically felt “stuck” on the surface of the water with my arm preventing me from getting fully on the back deck.

it worked!
Today I went to an open pool session and I managed to do both the spine roll as well as the elbow roll in my playboat. I also learned the behind the head roll as well as the elbow crook roll! :slight_smile: Geez, I may have to build a SOF sometime in the near future so that I can learn the rest of the Greenland repetoire. Someday I hope to be able to do a straight jacket roll.

different kayaks
I find that it’s easiest for me to learn new rolls in my low volume greenland kayak and then I can do them in other kayaks. The greenland kayak rolls extremely easy and allows me to develope new techniques that I can later do in my other kayaks. Sounds like your haveing lots of fun.

yup tons of fun!
I wish I could be confident in surf with a Greenland paddle as that is the only thing keeping me from using it full time. I guess I just need to practice more and learn to trust the Greenland paddle for aggressive braces. As I’m looking for a lower volume sea kayak right now, I’m even more excited at the thought of trying out these new moves on a longer boat. No tuliq in my immediate future though! :slight_smile:

Sure, Why Not?
you can surf with your GP. Know several people who do. The main problem is not bracing but getting quick acceleration to catch the wave. You just have to anticipate more and get up to speed before some with a grabbier euro spoon would have to.

The other disadvantage would be on big, steep waves. The longer lever gets in the way when you are right against a steep wall. Here you want a shorter paddle to maneuver with. Hmm… guess you can always go with the storm paddle. :slight_smile:


lol, not likely with a storm!
I have enough problems using a GP without adding a sliding stroke to the equation for dealing with waves! I do want a storm paddle for a backup paddle though.

sing, as you do both Greenland style paddling and whitewater/surf, do you have trouble adjusting between the two different blades?

Not Really…
my WW/Surf paddles are 15, 30 and 45 offset but I generally use the first two and not the 45. I have a touring paddle at 60 offset, but I only play with that a lake practice just to stay familar but don’t really paddle with it.

Since I haven’t been touring as much this year, I do find that I have to adjust my stroke a tad bit when I get into the SOF with the GP. I am so used to the shorter strokes with the Euro. So, it takes me a tad bit to remember that I should stroke a little longer, pulling slightly behind the hip, to get more out of the GP.

BTW, I surfed the long boat and a GP for well over a year before I got into the the shorter boats and Euro paddles. Again, bracing is not the issue with with the GP.


Greenland paddle surf
I love useing my greenland paddle for surfing. As Sing has pointed out a couple shortfalls with the greenland paddle I feel very confident when braceing and rolling with it in the surf. The extended paddle rolls give you a lot of braceing when you come up from a roll and get slammed by the next wave. I also find the greenland paddle easier to use when side surfing waves. You can extend the paddle and relax as the wave pushes you sideways. The more I use the greenland paddle the more benifits I find in it.

sounds good
Thanks DonG and sing. You guys addressed my number one concern (my misconception) in regards to Greenland paddle use. I think I’ll just need to take my Greenland paddle out to the surf sometime this spring and practice until I build confidence in the paddle. In that case, I could rely on the Greenland paddle for all of my touring needs and I wouldn’t have to stress out thinking about purchasing additional euro paddles. I could just carve a full sized GP spare or a storm paddle and maybe a throwing stick as well. I’m excited and can’t wait to learn how to take full advantage of the Greenland paddle.

the one drawback
i have found with a gp in surf situations is that when backed into a corner, you really can benefit from having a paddle with less strokes to accelerate with. I really like the acceleration you get from a euro paddle while surfing.

Of course I have more questions!
I decided to bump this to the top as I need some technique advice from the Greenland style paddlers here on p-net!

Things have been going very well for me and I have basically got most of the layback rolls (spine, armpit, angel, elbow, one hand, fist, resting brace w/o paddle, etc.) with the exception of the straight jacket roll (which continues to elude me but I’m confident that within the year it will be mine!) Of course I need to work to consistantly hit these rolls on my offside which is still fairly weak. With that said, I would like to start working on the forward sweeping rolls. I can manage a greenland storm roll and a playboating backdeck roll but to be honest I cheat a little and sweep back before sculling forward. I haven’t worked on it too much but the concept of hip snapping while leaning forward is foreign to me and more than a little strange as I am so conditioned to laying back to shed water resistance. Does anyone have any tips for drills or techniques that may help me better understand the feeling of hip snapping while sweeping forward?


Forward Greenland Rolls
>Does anyone have any tips for drills or techniques that may help me better understand the feeling of hip snapping while sweeping forward?

The Greenland chest scull/chest brace is an excellent technique for teaching the concepts of the forward-leaning Greenland rolls and a forward hipsnap. A paddle-float helps some students in the very beginning. In addition to the chest scull, you can start working on these rolls by “working them backwards” starting with the finish position. Once the chest scull/brace is within your grasp, start work on a Greenland reverse roll (like a Steyr but done as a low brace).

It can take some time to learn a forward leaning roll if you are “hardwired” to a layback.

You will find a number of threads on the chest scull and forward leaning rolls on the Qajaq USA (Greenland) forum.

Greg Stamer

Thanks Greg!
I totally forgot about the chest scull and never considered that it might help me learn the motion of the forward leaning hip snap. I’ll definitely have to practice that next time I get in the pool or out on the water. Your suggestion about working the rolls backwards is a good one as well. Is the feeling of the hipsnap more of a snapping situp? Also how do you make certain that your head stays down toward the water when rolling up?

On a side note, I recently was playing arond with the under the hull sculling technique and I was laughing at myself because I couldn’t manage to scull downwards! I was trying this with the paddle in my lap to learn the paddle motion and I was really confusing myself. How long did it take you to master this downward and then upward sculling motion?

As to QajaqUSA, I’m currently just a lurker on that site and read many of the old threads to gain good information. You’ve done a great job with that site and I really appreciate it!

I have to agree on the chest scull
point greg makes.

The chest scull is a skill I ignored for a long time, until I started trying to learn the forward starting, forward recovery hand roll. I even learned the low brace reverse sweep roll without having done any chest sculling.

I realized, after watching some folks who couldn’t do any type of hand roll, do the chest scull, that I had sort of skipped over something that was a foundation skill, from my perspective. So I started focusing on doing some chest sculling.

I think it can only help to have a little chest sculling in your repertoire, I think it’s helping me.

Fwd hipsnap. Sculling rolls.
>Is the feeling of the hipsnap more of a snapping situp? Also how do you make certain that your head stays down toward the water when rolling up?

The basic feeling (to me) is that you are trying to perform a situp and “hit” your head against the knee on the side that you are rolling up on. During the sweep my body is not tucked down toward the deck, but stretched out and away from the kayak. Only during the snap do I end-up “kissing” the deck. This point is often misunderstood. I posted some keys to the “reverse” roll (that also applies to the chest scull/brace) at

On a side note, I recently was playing arond with the under the hull sculling technique and I was laughing at myself because I couldn’t manage to scull downwards! I was trying this with the paddle in my lap to learn the paddle motion and I was really confusing myself. How long did it take you to master this downward and then upward sculling motion?

A key point of the sculling rolls is that you start the scull with a diving paddle angle (imagine using a knife to carve into a cake (diving) rather than spreading icing on the surface (climbing). The diving paddle angle pulls you under and around. However you just continue on with the same paddle motion. Once past the halfway point the same motion will bring you to the surface. These are advanced rolls and take some time to learn. I posted some key concepts about these rolls at .

I hope this helps.

Greg Stamer

awsome thanks!
Touching the head to the knee makes sense. I can “feel” the motion in my head now. Also your advice about how to orient the paddle for the reverse roll really is great and I’m confident that I should be able to hit it next time I’m in the water. As for the under the hull sculling, it never occurred to me that the diving sculling angle would be a climbing one when you got past the halfway point! Duh! That simplifies it quite a bit than. I thought it was some paddle trickery but from that perspective I can scull with a diving angle by pretending that I’m sculling “up” to the bottom of the pool! Maligiaq’s tips are also very good to know. I can’t wait to try this out.

On a related note, I’m hoping to be able to make the Qajaq Training Camp this year and meet you in person! I’m trying to get a couple people to go with me but how early to you typically fill up?


Qajaq TC

I’m glad the tips helped…

Dave Braun’s Greenland Qajaq Training camp is limited to only about 50 participants, so it tends to fill up early. It is a great venue and the food is excellent.

Details are on the Qajaq USA events calendar at

Greg Stamer

this tc event is pretty great, all of my friends who have gone have spoken very highly of it. I think I may try to squeeze it in myself this year.

Also if you just can’t wait until Michigan TC, the WMCKA Symposium has a number of great “traditional style” instructors such as Doug Van Doren for Memorial Day weekend this year.