New (or Old) Name for Hand of God Rescue?

Before I even start, if your immediate response to this question/comment is to tell me not to be so “PC,” that’s not helpful, and I’d encourage a little self restraint. That said … here we go:
My organization is working hard on a range of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) initiatives. At a recent training I used the term Hand of God for the capsized kayak rescue. The name was questioned and there is validity. Why not Hand of Allah or Buddha or something else. It also could be offensive for Christians in the spirit of not taking such names in vain. At the training I was challenged to find an alternative. On the spot I went with “assisted roll up” but it’s been hard to break the habit. I would love to hear from the paddling community on:
a) Has this come up in your experience?
b) What alternatives have you developed?
Thank you!

This is the last topic I thought I might comment on when I joined here a couple months ago.

It seems we live in a world now where we read a lot into things.

As you are asking for opinions and from my limited usage of these terms I would maybe suggest you go with lower case god instead of upper case God.


What does a god (assuming you even believe in one) have to do with kayaking?

Skill, not religion, will save your ass. Take the religion out of it so people don’t think some magical force will save them when they do something stupid.


I agree with the idea of taking religion out of it and I think that’s what I’ve been asked to do. I guess the better way to ask this is, “What is a different name for this rescue other than Hand of God?” And even more specifically, is there a name for it that we can use in instruction that is consistent with other organizations, where instructors can all speak the same language or show consistency.

This is not an assisted roll. This is a rescue where you don’t assist…you roll an incapacitated paddler back to the air.

call it an incapacitated paddler rolling rescue…then move on

{it does however feel like a hand came out of nowhere and all of a sudden …there you are} {told to me by those I used this on}


Perhaps Roger Schumann’s description in his book Sea Kayak Rescue would be helpful to you in explaining the rescue:

“The name comes from the sensation of being delivered, if you are the lost soul who can’t figure out how to wet exit, from the underwater darkness into the safety of daylight by a savior whom you can neither hear nor see.”

You could try calling it the “Hand of Savior,” but I think the existing nomenclature has been pretty well accepted for years without any religious association.


Thanks all. I also talked to someone with a leadership role at ACA. He echoed something similar to what roym said. I’m going with simple: “incapacitated paddler rescue.”


Actually, the offensive word is “hand” as it excludes kayakers who don’t have any.

Sigh. I work as a school teacher professionally and this discussion is an example of curricular inflation (sort of like the Jungian “ego inflation”, but much worse). Basically, when you notice the “curriculum specialists” calling for meetings because they want to rework everything in this week’s jargon, experienced teachers run for the staff room.

Hand of God is three syllables. Call it HOG and you’ve got one. It highlights “hand”, which is a key part of the rescue, and “God” , because it seems miraculous. It’s also just damn funny. I challenge you to find the name of a rescue that packs more punch (no pun intended).

“Incapacitated paddler rescue” is ten syllables. Poor economy. It’s also jargony and not super descriptive. Exactly what a committee would come up with. Last I checked, committees don’t paddle.

Sorry to be snarky — I know you called for restraint. FWIW, I’ve done a HOG twice. “Incapacitated paddler blah-blah” does not describe what you or the victim feel — sublime relief.


Herein lies the problem presented in the original post: "My organization is working hard on a range of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) initiatives. "

Creating a problem where there is not one.


Maybe “inverted incapacitated paddler rescue by someone trained to do a “hand of God” rescue”


When I think of an incapacitated paddler rescue, I think of the scoop rescue. I think it needs something like what @grayhawk suggested - including the word inverted. Though I’d switch the wording to Incapacitated inverted paddler rescue

I am betting at the time someone is getting your head out of the water you will not care what the rescue technique is called.


That has nothing to do with my comment.

Thought about this awhile and decided the paddle needing rescue isn’t necessarily incapacitated. SOOOO

maybe Rescue of inverted Paddler…or …R I P
would be more appropriate.


How about the “Get over yourself and breathe” Or “if it upsets you, I can leave you upset”

For me this is classed in a “how you set the toilet paper issue” of first world problems. Some insist that it rolls forward, others insist that it rolls back. I just want it to be there.

What I really need to know is the name of the org that is this uptight so that I never do business with them.


Amen Brother!

I imagine if I go out and demonstrate this to people and call it something simple and descriptive and attention-grabbing, say “Quick-Flip”, that could catch on fairly easily.
The trouble is that those more experienced in kayak culture would have such a hard time not bringing up the seemingly much catchier term.

Quick-Flip seems pretty good to me?

I think in practice, too much emphasis is put on reaching to grab something of the person to pull them back up over their kayak. I had a small female practice the Quick-Flip on me over and over and over until it was easy for her prior to going to an instructor certification. We discovered that all of her physical ability remaining focused on rotating the capsized person’s kayak enabled her to right me just fine. She could over-rotate my kayak until my body was flopping towards her, and at that point level it back, controlling my body that’s already over the top of our rafted kayaks.
The instructor, I was told, insisted, just insisted that she reach across the other kayak with a hand to grab the person to pull them back and up over their kayak. She couldn’t get a bigger person this method, and she was told that was necessary to pass. She said she got a bit cranky, and insisted she could do this if she were allowed to do it how she knew would work. They allowed her to do it, she popped him right up, and her ability was acknowledged.
Perhaps instead of framing and envisioning it as getting the person on top of their own kayak, frame and envision it as getting the person on top of your own as you’re flipping them. Whatever helps to keep you from allowing that big heavy body to stop coming up before it’s balanced above the kayaks. You’re maximizing your ability to use your weight and maximizing the strength of your arms by not extending one to reach, but keeping them closer, and keeping the spinning momentum of the kayak going once it’s started.
I bring this up because I hear all the time from smaller people who don’t believe it’s useful for them. Try some things. Imagine that person is yours and really in trouble. Violently as you are able, try spinning that kayak with both hands and all your weight and strength until that body is flipping onto you or your kayak, and hold the boats together. Summer is coming up. It’s time for fun swim sessions!

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One more syllable than Quick- Flip, but “Frenzy- Flip” might have better stick.
Or for those insisting that frenzy seems too panicked, “Friendsy-Flip”.
Either way, it brings a smile.

ACA has been teaching a combined reach/pull and rotate the kayak under the overturned kayaker for at least 8 years for the good ole Hand-of-God, because it works for most smaller rescuers.

If everyone knows it as the Hand of god rescue, then so it is, forever. No change needed