Learning to roll

I’ve been practicing my roll and have about an 80% success rate. Up to this point, I’ve always had my rudder up and used an empty kayak (15 ft. Dagger Cortez). My question is: How much more difficult is it to roll with your rudder in the water, and how much more difficult is it with a full load?

Something tells me that having to roll on a big lake in rough water with a full load with my rudder down will be a little different than my practice sessions on the farm pond…

Imhop, (ther are much better rollers)

– Last Updated: May-17-04 2:25 PM EST –

Rudder negligable. If your boat is packed well, perhaps you might need to relax and enjoy your roll more if it is loaded. Other than slowing down a touch no biggie. Pack the weight low and so it does not shift. As to the rough water, I doubt it will present a problem unless it is steep chop over two feet or breaking but you might want to have a friend with a bow around for a time or two.

With a properly-packed load you have more inertia to overcome, but since the boat is lower in the water and has a lower CG the second half of the roll is often easier. It’s a different feel – slower to initiate – but not necessarily harder. Lots of variables – the only way to know is to try.

inflate a float bag to press lose dry bags down onto the bottom of the hull. It’s more of an irritation than a significant hindrance to rolling. Getting your roll to 100% success from a set-up position is the foundation to having a useful roll when not planning on rolling,ie. “oops”.

Do you know what causes that 20%non-success?

It seems like after a while I lose my focus, or get a little tired, and once I get tired, I get sloppy. Once that starts, I get frustrated and just hang it up for the day. If I try to do too many too fast, I get a litte dizzy and don’t know which way is up. :slight_smile:

Do you or anyone else out there have a good routine that you could recommend?

I want to get through this learning stage.

my observations
I leanred on an empty boat, but eventually started practicing on a full boat, just to see what it was like.

It feels “sluggish” by comparison, but other than that, it didn’t feel any harder (once I’d done a few).

The first few attempts with a loaded boat, I completely missed however…so I’d suggest trying it out.

I’ve practice rolls in 3’ rollers on Lake Superior and Lake MIchigan…it’s not bad. Not sure I’d want to do it in breaking surf though :slight_smile:

non set-up position
do you practice that way?

Sorry, I’m lost.
I’m not sure what you mean by non set-up position.

Is it lack of focus or is it coldness?
I got much better at doing long practice sessions of rolling when I began wearing a drysuit for that purpose. Even if the air temp is in the 80s, I wear it unless the water temp is pretty warm (mid-70s). It’s easy to do a few rolls without the drysuit in cool conditions, but doing 50 rolls means getting chilled. If you’re dressing marginally, try wearing warmer immersion gear, even if it seems like overkill. If you get hot, you have an excellent reason to roll again!

I highly recommend the video, “The Kayak Roll” (also available in DVD). It has excellent footage, including underwater and cutaway views, and the troubleshooting section will probably contain something that will help you bump up your success rate. It did for me.

I think LeeG means are you practicing any rolls without setting up first. Try it, because it’s slightly harder. Also try paddling forward to create movement, first with and then without setting up for the roll. Paddling forward and then capsizing without setting up is definitely harder–the paddle resists being moved to the setup position–but it’s more like what would happen in a real capsize.

I haven’t tried rolling a loaded boat, but I have rolled it with the rudder deployed–ACCIDENTALLY deployed, that is. The rudder popped out of its keeper slot a few times when I was rolling. One of the times it did so, my footpeg slid so quickly and far that I failed the roll; the other times I managed to roll up anyway, but it sure felt creepy with those darned sliding footpegs.

Practicing for the real world conditions
When training, you get your torso, legs, paddle, boat, etc., where they need to be, to be successful. In the real world, you probably won’t have time to “set up” for a roll. Practicing from odd paddle angles, mid-bow rudder, mid-edge turn, blown brace, etc. are well advised. Not that I’m any kind of expert, but I’ve been listening to others here enough to understand the importance of this concept.


what they said
normal set-up position: leaning forward, paddle on side of kayak,check blade angle ,on your mark, get set, go and over!

non set-up position: go over with paddle and body in ANY position,go over holding onto the paddle with one hand scratching your ear, go over with paddle under deck bungies while twisted around fiddling with skirt,etc, etc.

THEN practice going over as mentioned while under way THEN practice going over having someone knock you over, etc.

Got it!
Thanks you guys. I’m starting to get the picture. Although I’m beginning to get the hang of it, I’m still a long way from being an expert.

Assisted rolls?
Not assisted rescues, but assisted rolls! Reminds me of a brief conversation Coffee had with my wife: “Amy, Jimmy said I could do this!” Those words were followed shortly by said caffinated friend leaping lemur-like from his Critter onto the rear deck of said wife’s boat…followed yet again by a double ker-splunk and random profanity in my general direction. Of course Coffee only assisted with the first half of the roll. :smiley: Believe it or not, she IS speaking to me again.

Canine-assisted roll
Check out the last page in the latest issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine. I wouldn’t have believed it but the photos are the proof of the pudding!


– Last Updated: May-17-04 4:44 PM EST –

there is an older guy, probably in his 60's, who paddles a composite squirt boat at the Deerfield. He likes to play right below the Gap in a very strong standing wave with his midsize white dog. The dog takes its place on the deck and will move accordingly to where the guy sinks his boat. So when the guy sinks his bow, the dog would nonchalantly walk to the stern. When he spins around to submerge the stern, the dog will move to the bow. I am not sure if he rolls with the dog on his boat. But, somehow, I think the dog can. It's all so evident to those watching that the dog and the guy feel very comfortable in that powerful wave. I can't help but think that he flips over at least once in awhile.

I've seen the guy with his dog playing the wave twice now.


tired roll…
When I first learned to roll I had the same problem: after paddling for a few hrs., my roll was gone… bad technique, too much pressure on the paddle, arm, shoulder. Self-taught. Eventually learned to finish a sweep roll with a layback, much better. Easiest roll (for me) is a standard Greenland roll. See Qajaq USA website for video of this and other rolls done with a Greenland paddle (or no paddle). Rolling a loaded boat is slower, but not much harder than unloaded, I agree. Keep practiclng, it’s fun.