How much harder is a roll with a bigger kayak?

Lay back is just the denotation for how a roll is finished. In Euro rolling there are several different rolls that can be finished as a lay back roll. In Greenland rolling each roll is counted and denoted by several factors of the roll…not by just the finish position. There is quit a difference as to how rolling is usually taught between Euro and Greenland.

Greenland rolling is usually taught from the finish first, so teaching a Balance brace first is a way to perfect the finish of all Greenland rolls that finish as a lay back roll. If a student/kayak combination is able to Balance Brace, it’ like cheating and makes the teach/learning much easier.

If factors are against a certain combination of body and kayak , ability to Balance Brace…then sculling is the alternative , in order to practice the end of the roll first.

If a roll is going to fail…it always fails at the end. {doesn’t matter if it is Greenland or Euro} ALWAYS AT THE END.

The 2 most common rolls taught first to Greenland rollers are either the Angel/Butterfly or the extended paddle rear deck finishing sweep roll. {usually known as standard Greenland Roll}

forward finish rolls and hand and sculling rolls are usually the last ones taught.

In Euro rolling the order of rolls taught is usually about the same. Rear deck recovery first , front deck recovery last. {The exception to this is that some WW kayaks are easier to roll with a front deck recovery, so with those kayaks sometimes front deck recover is taught first} {also some instructor insist on the paddler finishing sitting up right an want to skip any other steps to achieve this so teach that from the beginning}

There is not just one roll for a certain paddle. If paddling with a Euro and rolling with the same, then if your instructor only knows how to teach a certain roll…that is what they will teach and the student will come to think of that as THE EURO ROLL. It could be a pure C 2 C or a sweep C 2 C or a slash/green water roll or a screw roll etc etc etc. Rarely if ever taught is the Angle/Butterfly roll for Euro. if taught it would be a forward finish Angel/Butterfly

With Greenland rolling all rear deck recovery rolls are based on the Balance Brace for the finish and all front deck recovery rolls are based on chest sculling.

Greenland rolling instructors tend to teach with a mind set that the student is beginning a personal journey of learning a veritable plethora of rolls where as many Euro instructors follow the path of teaching you a roll.

Good Luck and Best Wishes

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Thanks, Roy, Everything you said matches my experience with my instructors. Indeed they started with the balance brace, and the way you explained it makes sense. My spouse learned the standard sweep roll since the balance brace wasn’t as easy for him. I think we’ll just see how we do in the water when practicing. I anticipate it will probably be quite cold for our current level of gear, so we might not have long. My first goal is to do a successful balance brace in the Montauk and then proceed from there. I’m hoping to learn the sweep roll as well but I’m not going to push it too much until we get into a pool or somewhere warmer!

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The standard extended paddle sweep roll is a tremendously powerful roll.

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I’m not going to attempt that until later! :wink:

Thr Montauk should balance brace without particular fuss if you already find it an easy maneuver.

The only diff l find between balance brace in my two go to boats, Romany (regular) and the Vela is that l have to add a bit more to the leg holding the boat away from me in the Vela.

It is just a minor diff in hull shape. The Romany is slab sided and vertical, the Vela’s side is a bit angled so would more easily fall back on me then the Romany. But this diff is not at all difficult to handle as long as l hold the bit of an arch and keep my head back, arm out.


Update: we went out to practice. The water is about 61 degrees so we wore all our neoprene.

The good news is we weren’t too cold and I was able to do the balance brace with the Montauk. However, I couldn’t get back up on the deck on my own. The boat felt a lot heavier, and I just didn’t have enough contact with it to get it back up. Admittedly this part was the hardest for me even with the easier boats. I think I’m still not doing the hip snap and leg motions very well.

We didn’t have time or adequate foam to pad out the boat very well. I think that’s the next step. I’m not exactly sure how to achieve a tight enough fit without making it uncomfortable for non-rolling activities.

All in all the practice was good though it really showed me how far I have to go, and how important it is (at least for a new, inexperienced roller) to have a boat that fits well.

There is no hip snap when moving back onto the deck from a balance brace. Think about the stretched position your hips and upper body are in as you move closer to that back deck. You are running out of any physical range of motion to do it. Coming onto the back deck from a balance brace is all about staying way, way down and back while your body motion brings the boat up. Initiation should not require huge movements as much as a gradual unscrewing of your body from where the boat is being held to start with. The taller the deck, the more matched the timing of the boat coming up and your motion has to be. And maybe throw the paddle out a bit to the side to help a smidge.

At some point a deck can be too tall. I suspect that in your case, you are just coming from boats that allowed you to not match the motions as well as you need for the Montauk.

Hip snap or its various names are a factor in the motions that most people call a roll, either a layback or a sweep. What they have you doing is a recovery option for sure. But it is outside of what many people consider to be a roll.

OK, thank you for the clarification, Celia. You’re right, the deck is higher, and the boat is heavier, and my body’s connection to the boat is less. Those 3 things made it harder for me and I had trouble keeping the paddle on the surface as I tried to pivot my body onto the back deck.

You will need to slow it down for the bigger volume boat, even with better outfitting. If you are moving your upper body before you have gotten the boat going, you are moving too soon and/or fast. It will take more of a whole body motion.

OK, thanks. I’ll keep that in mind next time. Though with temps rapidly dropping not sure when that will be unless I find a pool practice location.

To improve your fit in the kayak there are several companies that make hip pad kits. Many are nylon pouches and strap to the sides of the seat and are adjustable with different size and shape closed cell foam pads. Just search kayak hip pads. I’ve outfitted my boat with them.

If carrying heavy gear in the hatches, be sure that it will not just tumble around. This can reduce your stability even when not rolling. This is usually not a problem when kayak camping as there is usually enough gear to keep everything in place. Be careful to balance the load. A friend in mine nearly died when dropped off by a sea plane in Alaska. The boat was so unbalanced that he nearly capsized soon after launching. He was able to get back to shore and repack the boat.

In my experience low volume Greenland style boats are easier to roll than boats with high decks, But most boats can be rolled with practice unless too wide in the beam like some rec kayaks.


One issue not raised in this really useful string is the impact of hard vs. soft chine. I’ve had a difficult time rolling harder chine boats. No trouble in my Impex Force Cat 3, but then I struggle more in the Stellar I purchased cause of its light weight (and my advancing age). And the hardest was a Betsy Bay Valkyrie, where I felt like my paddle just clanked against the side of the hull. Any thoughts about this? I am aware that if I really take my time on the Stellar, I roll more easily.

Thanks for the outfitting tips. Yes, in my very limited experience the larger boat seemed much harder to roll for me and I need a lot more practice for sure.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I will come along to answer this!

The shape of the chine, IMO, has less impact on the rolling ability (as opposed to the “feel” as you are rolling). The width and and the outfitting (for fit) have more impact in my opinion. For example, if you sit in a very wide bardarka (or rounded) hull shape that is not “fitted” to you, you have a harder time rolling it (if at all) than sitting inside a more narrow and fitted hard chine hull.

Here is a page that shows the different hull shapes (cross sections) and talks a little bit about the feel of their in initial and secondary stability. I would say all these hulls are rollable if their width are suitable and fitted to your body. Conversely, these can all be challenging to roll if they are not sized/fitted to you.

(Kayak design Properties)

BTW, when you are upside down, the tops of the kayak (which is now the bottom with you hanging below that) are relatively the same “flatish” shape for all those hulls regardless of what their respective cross section looks like.


This matches my limited experience, since when I was in a tight Greenland style boat (which I think might’ve had hard chines, but I’m not sure) it was way easier to roll or even to perform a balance brace for me than my fiberglass boat which is 3" wider and 3" deeper, and which I have not as yet outfitted to give me good body contact. I think at my stage I need even more body contact than a more experienced paddler would, since I easily feel that I’m falling out of the boat, and haven’t yet learned how to position myself the best way to maintain good contact.

What kind of roll are you doing? Hard chine kayaks can be a bit easier to roll as the hull shape provides additional floation further from the center of gravity. But there are a lot of factors that can impact the experienced ease of rolling.

I was also in the pool at Delmarva. The SOFs and Tahes/Rebels are definitely hard-chine kayaks. Think it was you I lent a foam masik to, didn’t see if you tried it in the Montauk.
Balance-bracing and recovering with the Montauk will not work well until your water (driving) leg has something to push up on - foam between your thigh and the kayaks deck. A similar fit to the SOF you were in is needed. That leg-drive is what helps right the kayak and support your torso as you swing onto the back deck. Any kayak can be rolled, btw, balance bracing increases in difficulty with kayak volume.

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Thank you! Both for the advice and for lending me your foam masik! I didn’t try it in the Montauk, the mentor shook her head at the Montauk and said it was too huge or something to that effect. :joy: I remember the days when it looked so small and sleek to me….

Anyway, yes, I need to get a similar fit to practice rolling and balance bracing in the Montauk. I did manage to do a balance brace in it but it was definitely harder.