Roll-why does 6 inches matter?

-- Last Updated: Aug-25-09 10:34 AM EST --

OK, I'm switching over from exclusive rolling with a GP (extended only) to learning to roll with my new Werner Euro. Successful thus far only with an extended Euro paddle-not my desired goal. I come up effortlessly 100% of the time, extended paddle. But using a normal hand position, my paddle severely dives straight down. I can feel strong water pressure against the blade forcing it down. Trying the gradual approach of just moving my left hand to where the shaft meets the blade, it still dives. Only a 6 to 8 inch hand move! Watching The Kayak Roll DVD diagnostics multiple times, I am sure that I am holding the paddle relaxed, keeping my left arm close to the body and not punching out.

I will certainly pursue a lesson since self-learning via the DVD is not working. While it does not surprise me that the normal hand position might cause a learning issue, it is bizarre that an extended paddle position where blade and shaft meet would cause me such problems. I know I am raising the paddle above the water. I know I am sweeping the body and paddle, watching the paddle as I sweep, rotate the boat via knee no differently than my successful extended paddle roll. I know I am letting my head come up last. I know I am near the water's surface during the first phase, with my nose close to the kayak. In summary as I sweep, I feel intense water pressure pushing the blade down. Thoughts appreciated.

Of course, using a GP 100% all these years, I never moved beyond using the GP in an extended position.

blade angle
This sounds too obvious to really be your problem, but you need to neutralize your blade angle. If you feel pressure making the paddle dive, then you’re sweeping it with a steeply diving angle.

When extended, your offside hand on the offside blade is keeping the onside blade at the proper angle. You neeed to keep that angle when you move your hands to the paddle shaft.

Either change your grip on your paddle, or roll your wrists forward to get a more neutral blade angle.

roll thw wrist forward or backward like, holding a platter of food up from the bottom?

and keep a loose grip
When working on my off side roll where it was harder for my coordination to keep the blade angle correct that a loose grip helped the blade seek it’s correct angle. I had to setup with a good angle, but had to worry less about maintaining the angle during the sweep.

How’re you holding the other blade?

– Last Updated: Aug-25-09 11:22 AM EST –

First thought - I am thinking Nate has it. If you are holding the "dry(er)" blade on its outer edge in the extended position, you probably have a very solid way of feeling that angle and thus setting the correct angle for the wet blade. This should be true whether you are working unfeathered or at some feather. I find it's pretty easy to keep a preferred angle on the thin hard edge of a foam core blade. It's when both hands are on the shaft that things change.

If you are holding the upper blade this way in the extended position, you are actually changing things for both hands when you go to a normal position. The first is that your upper, dry hand is on the shaft and has more opportunity to tighten up unconsciously and make the paddle dive, and the other is that your wet hand may have to be looser or more responsive to issues caused by that.

There is also the possibility that you aren't getting far enough away from the boat as you sweep out with the normal position, so the paddle is constrained somehow by the boat. There isn't much length of "uphill" paddle in the extended position, so getting around or over the boat isn't a factor.

But I suspect most of it is in the hands.

PS - If fixing the wrist, forward like you'd pull a bar towards yourself overhand. But as I recall you are paddling with a Cypress, or similar - that blade should find a climbing angle without much fixing from you if you can keep it loose.

I use the Euro at 0- unfeathered

Some Folks “Index” the Euro

– Last Updated: Aug-25-09 11:14 AM EST –

I'm sure you're a fine person with some wonderful qualities but... you switched from GP to Euro?!

That said; my buddy up the street used some kind of waterproof tape and something like a pencil to make a raised place in the paddle shaft under his fingers. This gave his Euro paddle some 'indexing' so he could better feel the angle of his blade while upside down. You might try that.

You switched from GP to Euro??!!

(insert smiley face here)

Blade angle?
As they said - looks as if you do not have climbing angle on your blade.

Couple of suggestions:

Try goggles/dive mask to see what is happening with the blade angle as you sweep.

Instead of going right for the sweep roll, work on sculling brace - it gives very good feedback on blade angle :wink:

I’ve not switched
I would never leave my GP, just want to be more well-rounded with both style paddles. I still use both during all day paddles and stick with the GP during high-windage days. There could always come a day in tough conditions when I lose my GP and whatever spare I have and someone hands me their spare Euro.

Plus I will state this - I sense the majority of instructors for bracing, rolling, boat control feel more comy with their students using Euro paddles.

I Understand
It’s just that shortly after I was introduced to the GP I didn’t want to use the euro any more. Sold my last one a week or two back.

And seriously… try the indexing thing with the paddle shaft. It works for my neighbor.

I Gotta Ask…
Any particular reason why you only rolled with the GP extended? Since the GP is inherently indexed maybe that would be a good next step… learn the non-extended GP and hope some of that skill transfers to the euro.

no excuse
staying in comfort zone, laziness, no better reason unfortunately.

Don’t rely on the paddle and muscles
You think the blade is not doing enough work or not doing it right but maybe the problem is that your roll doesn’t have enough grace and style? I can sometimes roll up so easily that I seem to teleport upright. Then on the very next roll, I sit upside down dragging the paddle blade down into the water while getting nowhere. One roll is smooth and graceful and I keep my body down and focus on rolling the boat up first and then for the bad roll, I just try to push myself up using the paddle.

I’m more often sloppy but I’ve had enough good rolls to know that they were caused by good technique (or better than usual technique) and not caused by my blade and my strength.


forward, like the fighting irish dude.
Rolling your wrists forward will raise the leading edge (top edge) of the blade.

I also agree with below posters that a loose grip is good. If I loose track of my paddle before rolling up, and I don’t know where the blade is, I just loosen my grip, and slap the surface to flatten the blades, then roll up. If you hold the paddle lightly the blades will straighten themselves out.

good idea
I like this suggestion. Work from the extended GP roll to the normal position GP roll. I actually find this roll less forgiving of poor form than rolling with a Euro. The small blade surface requires me to have good form to come up easily with a GP in normal position. If I find I’m sculling to get that last bit of the roll, it’s a sure sign that I’m lifting my head or something. The Euro is more forgiving (to me) of bad form, as I can muscle myself up on my big blade, almost regardless of form.

So to cut out variables, (and to finish the lesson, so to speak) go back to the GP, and move from an extended roll to a standard position. Keep your shoulders to the sky, your head in the water, and curl like a guppy in love when you’re finishing the roll. Once your form is solid, I don’t think you’ll have trouble translating to the Euro paddle.

One major diff between
an extended roll and a non-extended one is the need to get the rear hand high enough so that the inboard blade (one not in the water) can clear the bottom of the kayak. If the rear (inboard) hand is low, the blade and/or shaft can be directed upwards by contact with the kayak. This causes the outboard (in water) blade to dive.

Since you are ok extended with either paddle maybe this clearance issue could be the cause. Focus on feeling that your rear hand is dry (above water) well past the wrists before you start the sweep. You might get someone to watch and/or video you so you can check your position.

I roll extended most of the time and have the same problem when I practice the non-extended roll.


my plan
The next time I go out, I will bring a copy of these replies with me and try them. I’ll pursue a lesson if need be as well. I do not desire to have the extended paddle as my only successful roll. I know that using such a hand position is not ideal or even possible in conditions when you really need to roll. However, I will still not beat up on myself too badly, being thankful that at least this roll seems effortless to me when many others have not achieved this point yet. I’ll stay positive!