Hard Chine Rolling

I picked up a WS Arctic Hawk and seem to be having trouble rolling it, low deck and all. I had no trouble rolling my soft chined boat, but now am suffering due to maybe hard chines keeping the roll from happening as easily.

Should I go to a C-to-C roll on a hard-chined boat?


Free you mind . .
"Free your mind . . and the rest will follow . . "

Stop analysing . . stop thinking about why it doesn’t work.

Start trying different speeds, try a different emphasis, try to feel the boat and what it wants to do.

There are no substantial differences between the roll-ability of boats based on hard vs soft chined hull styles.



Don’t Switch, Keep Working It…
The hard chines of a sea kayak really doesn’t alter significantly the feel from a rounded chine kayak. (If you were jumping into a surf kayak with hard rails, I would say, yeah, switch.) More volume may affect you more negatively but I suspect you’re probably going lower volume by moving to an Artic Hawk from whatever you were paddling previously.

Check your fit, especially with the thigh/knee braces and foot pedals. If you’re doing layback sweep rolls, some folks actually prefer to have a bit of wiggle room around the hips to swivel in. The reason is that as you complete the sweep, you actually want to focus on arching your back and forcing your head low into the water. This forces your hip/knee up, bring the boat up and then under you as you swing over the back deck.


Surf kayak
Hi Sing

Could you elaborate on rolling a surf kayak? I’m considering getting a surf kayak and am curious on how they feel to roll. Been looking at the Maverick and noticed the high beam - 65cms !




It’s The Hard Rails And Distribution Of
volume. The pronounced rails on a surf kayak is the widest part of the boat. From the rails it does an inverted taper to the cockpit (thing reverse “V” shape). So, the boat wants to stay flat on the hull bottom, or flat upside down. Surf kayaks have REAL good initial stability on bottom or upside down and no secondary to speak of. However, when you’re on the wave and going fast, the rails carve the wave face (aided by the holding power of the fins) and you have dynamic stability.

Unlike white water or sea kayaks where you have sidewalls that transition smoothly, the rails of surf kayak resist the boat from rolling. You can really feel this resistance and then at a certain point, the boat quickly flops over. I think the explosive hipsnap of the C2C roll is best suited to a surf kayak. Having said this, a layback roll can work with some surf kayaks, especially if they’re low volume relative and to the paddler. Just don’t expect to feel that positive feedback that you get with other kayaks where you can feel the kayak transition to the sidewalls and then over. Rather, in a layback roll, you feel like you’re failing to roll up because of the resistance but then at the very end the boat quickly flops over. The other problem with a layback roll is that the seat of a surf kayak is located significantly further back to the stern, about 2/3 of the boat, vs about half way for most kayaks. The reason is that the surf kayak is carving and steering of the rear. In the newer high performance (shorter) boats, the stern volume tends to be low. It’s not unusual to see the stern 2-3" below the water line. What this means in a layback roll is that there can be a tendency for the boat to stern squirt when rolling up. How much depends again on the size of the paddler relative to the boat volume. Regardless, if you get hit with another wave while stern squirting up, you’ll likely go back over again. That’s why I prefer the C2C roll or a a back deck (reverse sweep) roll. The latter, you also end coming more towards the middle of the boat where you have more of the boat volume under you.

And, as hard as surf kayak is to roll, nothing is as worse, as far as I am concerned, than a wave ski. There is no deck for any kind of rolling transition. Totally flat sitting on the ski bottom and near totally flat sitting upside down. That’s why a lot of wave skiers have to throw their in board leg over the side, as they come up, to give that extra needed “Ummph!” to complete the roll.


Thank you
for the explanation - it was a very good read.

As there’s no surf kayak culture in here in Denmark, I pretty much depend on the information I can get on the net. Most likely buying a surfkayak will involve a trip to UK.

Here’s a shot from a surf session last sunday on the west coast of Jutland:


It was great and all but I don’t feel that even the Anas Acuta is up to many tricks. Much too straight running.


Good advice, Jed.
I’ve never found any difference that’s attributable to chine type.

Don’t switch, adjust.
The C-to-C roll is not as strong a roll as a sweep. So you would be changing to a less effective roll. All boats roll differently and it is just a matter of figuring out what you have to do differently. A competent observer can help you out. Also do braces and hip snaps on someone’s bow and pay attention to how the boat feels. What is likely is that you will need to expend more energy toward the end of the roll.

That’s A Really Cool Pic!
BTW, there is a guy on Boatertalk Surf Zone who surf kayak in Holland. His name is Michielev(? spelling). I think he has a buddy that goes out with him. He’s managed someone how to demo some of the Mega boats. If my geography serves me right, you can drive to Holland but would have to take boat (or paddle) across to England. :slight_smile:


Finish of the roll
I actually finally got a repeatable roll in the Explorer with its single softened chine, after much lower percentages in my Squall with a realy rounded hull. But there were other reasons than the chine - it may be that your rounded hull boat has allowed you to get a little lazy in one or another parts of the roll so the hip or body rotation is initiating with too little oomph or finishing too early. In my case, the Explorer is more forgiving in the latter half of the roll than the Squall was and lets me go by the secondary stability point a little more casually.

This isn’t about the chinging but the overall behavior of the boat thru the full motion. The Hawk may be telling you where your roll in the other boat had gotten a little imprecise.

Holy cow Jed
Has your mind ever opened over the past few years!!! Nice to see the evolution. You used to be one of those absolutists. What happened? Got a lot more skilled at paddlind and teaching I’ll bet! I believe the more experienced the instructor the les emphasis on simplistic connect the dot thinking.

As others have pointed out, different hulls roll differently. It will take you awhile to learn the differences. My Greenland (and pseudo-Greenland) hulls are very easy to roll, but you must rotate the hull completely around via technique. A slow sweep and a long drawn-out “hip snap” (more like a gentle unfolding of your body) works great for this.

What I mean by this is that some modern hulls simply “pop-up”, with you as a passenger, once you rotate them past a certain point. These types of kayaks often respond well to a C-to-C. A Greenland hull does not display the same behavior – you must rotate them fully around to the final recovery position. And if you overdo it, it is easy to keep on going (windowshade).

I haven’t paddled an arctic hawk for many years, but I have borrowed a sparrow-hawk (more than big enough for my size: 5’10" 165 lbs). It rolled very well. I consider an Arctic hawk to be a relatively high volume, pseudo-Greenland kayak.

Don’t worry about hard chines. Some of the easiest to roll kayaks in the world, true “rolling machines”, are hard-chined kayaks. Especially those used for the rolling events of the annual Greenland competition.

Greg Stamer

Free your mind and your hips will follow
that’s what I always thought!

It’s not the chines
My hard-chined S&G is easier to roll than the soft-chined Squall I learned to roll in. I do the “modified sweep roll” taught in the video, The Kayak Roll.

Your european geography
is spot on. Yes paddling to UK and hauling the boat back with me would be something. I could even take that fancy Valley Rapier along with me!

Thanks for the pointer to the dutch guy - Ive send him an email.


I Can Sympathize
Hey Scott,

You’re probably experiencing the same I did going from an extremely easy rolling ‘cheater’ (smile) boat to one not quite so well versed in this area. Going from my Explorer to the QCC was initially frustrating in terms of rolling. suddenly I’d bomb the occasional roll, as I’d become used to the easy layback of the rear deck for my finish. The Explorer just popped right back up, and actually made me lazt, technique wise. The QCC is not a bad roller, but the higher rear coaming does require an adjustment. That Outer Island was made to roll, and the only boat I’ve been successful hand rolling in to date. Stay with the sweep, but concentrate on a stronger snap and chin to shoulder at the finish-you’ll adjust in due time. On an aside, give a shout if you’re ever down this way, and we’ll go swimming off the ski. :slight_smile:


Try a Paddle Float
Try using a paddle float for a session. This will allow you to get comfortable in the boat upside down (because you know that you will come up). You can then work on your form without fear of your roll failing, and it allows you to really feel how the boat turns underneath you as you can do some really slow, controlled rolls. This is more effective if you do the C to C though as the paddle float can be hard to pull smoothly across the water in a sweep roll. I have found that the foam paddle floats work best for this.


You have all made very helpful points and suggestions. I think I did in fact get “lazy” with my Outer Island rolls as they were so easy to do. My back injury, new boat, and not rolling for more than a month all probably contributed to problems more “in my head” than with my technique.

I am learning your mind will defeat you with that enemy called self talk - which in this case probably defeated my attempts due to the factors above long before I put the boat in the water. I will take your comments and suggestions to heart though and work on a more definitive hip snap, stronger movement, and tucking my head and lifting my knee.

Thanks again.