Roll My Kayak!

I need to learn to Eskimo roll in my current kayak, a Perception Expression 15. When I bought this Kayak I did research and saw several people complaining that the seat back is too high to Eskimo roll making self rescue near impossible. Can anyone tell me why this is so?

I’m going to take a class next spring to learn to do the roll and other self rescue attempts, but if it’s going to be impossible I don’t want to waste my money. I can see the high seat back making it hard to reenter your kayak if you fall out or dump, but if you are just rolling it over I am struggling to see how the high seat back will keep you from doing so.

I really enjoy the comfort of the high seat back, I will change it if I feel like it’s in my best interest. I did try to dump and reenter at the lake this summer, and I was never successful at reentering, but I also never made it up to the seat, so I can’t blame the seat back. :confused:

At the end of the roll, keeping your weight down as low as possible helps a lot. As you learn a roll, you will find that even something as small as lifting your head up too early will prevent you from successfully rolling up.

The rolls that the Greenlanders do are broken into forward finish and back finish. Basically, at the end of the roll, do you end up leaning forward as far as you can, or leaning backward. All are listed as one or the other, because just the act of leaning forward or back at end helps keep weight down low, making the roll possible.

The standard roll most regular people (not those competing in Greenland roll competitions) are back finishing rolls. You often will hear about people saying one boat rolls better than the other, and one of the things they look for is low back decks as making a boat easier to roll.

So for your case - having a seat back that comes above the combing would prevent you from being able to lean back much, if at all. This likely may be enough to keep you from learning to roll the boat.

This said - 2 comments:

  1. Many sea kayakers learn sweep rolls, but a C to C roll (often taught to whitewater kayakers) is less impacted by seat back height. You could try this.
  2. For the vast majority of sea kayakers, a roll is useful (and teaches you a lot about things like bracing), but not required. Paddle float and T-rescues are more important, and what are normally taught in intro classes. That seat back may provide some challenges to those, but you should be able to do them with a bit of instruction and practice. These are what I would focus on first.

A high seat back is not good for learning to roll. I agree that the C to C might be your only option.
Can you adjust the back so it leans all the way back? That might help.

( Woohoo! Got my smartphone to work here on the new PCom! )

Need to lose the seat back. As above, being erect is pretty counter-productive to rolling, also not having a tight skirt. A high seat back gets in the way of both. That is why white water kayaks and most sea kayaks, intended for use where rolling may be needed, have back bands that lie below the coaming rather than seat backs. There is also the matter of cockpit fit and having thigh braces, lack of either makes things far more difficult. I just looked and the Expression is listed by Perception in their Touring Boat category. I disagree, to me this is highly misleading. But their market is largely rec boaters, so maybe I am all wet on this one.

If you replace the seat back with a back band - I have no idea if that is possible - in this boat you would solve that part of the issue. But you would still be left with a large cockpit, very wide (touring boats designed to roll easily rarely go beyond a 22 inch width) boat and a high back deck that would complicate things regardless of what kind of seat was inside.

Here’s the thing - you are talking about learning to roll. While there is no question that this boat could be rolled by someone (not me), this is not a boat that you take to learn to roll. It poses too many issues that can discourage success when you are just learning. You should take those classes, but ask to use their boats. Anyone offering rolling lessons will have some boats. Once you have taken those classes, whether or not you actually get the roll, you can make a better decision about whether for forego rolling or opt for a more roll-friendly boat. And you will have gained some useful skills regardless of whether you get a bomb-proof roll out of it.

Perception Expression 15 should work to learn in. loosen the straps that hold the seat back and fold it into the rear of the kayak {might have to move the seat slightly. otherwise learn either a forward finishing roll first or with a good instructor , You should be able to learn a roll finishing in a upright position. The C 2 C is a very poor roll for a first roll. {a screw roll would be better if a WW style roll is what you want} very difficult to stop it if the instructor sees your form is shoulder dangerous {dislocation if done in the wrong way and with force} it also tends to be an all or none roll…difficult to break down into controllable segments.

You can easily switch out the seat back for a backband (or foam if you’re industrious) with no irreversible damage to the boat (if you ever wish to reinstall the seatback to resell later). People above are right: it really will get in the way of most rolls and all re-entries.

Snapdragon and Immersion Research backbands are nice and affordable.

Oops - from Celia. My bad. By the time I got to writing I thought you had the Perception 11.5. FadedRed is closer on than me.

I also own an Expression 15 and installed the backband (easy to do) so my skirt would fit. With the high seat back I could re enter my Expression with the aid of a paddle float but found it much easier with the backband installed’

As others have said install back band. If possible learn to roll on a kayak that is easier to roll then once you have it switch to your boat.

Just a general comment. Leaning back, like in a Lazy Boy recliner, is not the proper paddling position. High back seats encourage bad paddling. Paddling posture is more straight up.