rolling a kayak

Hi folks …anyone here own a Solstice GT ?? I have one and I am wondering how well or how badly it behaves when it’s being being rolled. Does the length of kayak and/or hull shape or bow/stern shape have any noticeble effect on rolling? does a lighter F’Glass or kevlar boat roll easier and recover better than a like sized, heavier poly boat? I’m sure there has to be a break even point along there someplace , where length/weight is concerned IE: whereas a shorter , heavier boat may be easier to roll & recover than a longer, lighter boat would be or vice versa. I also own a WS cape lookout @ 15.5 ft.and 65 #'s vs 17.7ft & 52#'s for the Solstice. I’m thinking the solstice would be the better boat to roll & recover with. thanx .

There is a running debate about
whether different kayaks are easier or harder to roll. The key issue is whether kayaks simply differ in the procedure that you should use (like, early or late effort, leaning forward or backward, etc.) or whether some kayaks are hard, no matter what, and some are easy, no matter what. The metaphor I use is that of singing Yankee Doodle or singing an aria from La Boheme. Obviously the latter requires more talent and more training. But there are some people who cannot even sing Yankee Doodle. Are there kayaks which are as difficult to roll as singing an aria? I don’t think so. Are there some kayaks that are so easy to roll that you can be the equivalent of tone deaf? Probably. Some certainly come close. But the truth is (IMHO) if you learn to roll correctly you can roll any boat. It may take some adjustment of your technique and maybe a little help from someone to accomplish that. But you can do it. So I would never ever choose a boat based on whether it is alleged to be easy to roll. It is much more important that it fit you, that you are comfortable in the boat, and that the boat does what you want it to do.

A boat which is narrow and sits low in the water will be the ideal roller. The weight or length is not very relevant. I have a Storm which is fairly similar to a Solstice.

what davejjj said
I would only add that a low rear deck helps a lot if you like to finish your roll leaned back.

I learned to roll in a WS Cape Lookout- which is still in my garage as we speak. While it is a fine boat, it has a TON of secondary stability which initially makes it hard to tip over and just as hard to roll upright. Most common composite sea kayaks are much easier to roll as a function of their hull shape- nothing at all to do with length or weight.

That misses the point
Who cares if a boat has a low rear deck so it is easier to do a layback roll? How does it paddle? Does it do what you want in a way that you want. You can always learn to roll it in a way that fits the boat.

Rolling the Solstice
I haven’t paddled a Solstice in a few years, but one thing I do remember from that boat is that due to the shape of the deck over the cockpit (high, peaked,and steeply sloping), I never felt I could get get any leverage with my knees for putting the boat on edge. That plus the wide seat will potentially have a more negative effect on how the boat rolls for you than the length and hull shape.

Get yourself some hip pads and install some agressive thigh braces and you should be ok.

Easy to roll kayaks
> But the truth is (IMHO) if you learn to roll

correctly you can roll any boat. It may take

some adjustment of your technique and maybe

a little help from someone to accomplish that.

But you can do it. So I would never ever choose

a boat based on whether it is alleged to be

easy to roll. It is much more important that

it fit you, that you are comfortable in the boat,

and that the boat does what you want it to do.

Agreed that there are other important factors to consider. However if I plan to venture into conditions where capsize is likely and wet exit is not an option (e.g. rock gardening or surfing off point breaks), it is safer to be in a boat in which I have 100% confidence that my roll will work when I need it. It is less likely to miss a combat roll in a boat that will come up even if my timing is slightly off and my technique is less than perfect when I have to perform under pressure in conditions that cause me to capsize in the first place.

BTW, sometimes I find it hard to tell which boats is easier to roll unless I try to hand-roll them. This is probably because hand-roll requires much stronger hip snap and more precise timing and techniques. I found that some boats are very easy to hand-roll while others are very difficult (or impossible) to hand-roll. Maybe when I become better at hand-rolls, I will need to try “fist rolls” or “no hand rolls” to tell which boat is easier to roll.

I’ve rolled a friends Plastic Sostice a few times, it rolls(layback) considerably easier than my QCC 700. He tried my boat and felt a noticeable hesitation as his head broke the water. Something I’d never noticed since I’ve done most of my rolling in the Q and have little experience to compare with. Unfortunately I’ve never tried to roll my wife’s Cape Lookout so I can’t help you there.

As posted above if you want to learn to roll bad enough you’ll find a way to make it work.

Good Luck


Outfitting matters more
Technique matters most.

Very well stated!
Greyak put it beautifully!

that was the most succinct Greyak posting ever.

chop wood, carry water.

I think you are missing the point. The poster is asking about boat design. I’m giving him good information about boat design.

Technique/skill is important, no question, but that’s not what the poster asked about.

Ditto The CapeLookout…

– Last Updated: Jan-26-08 6:17 AM EST –

being only 135 lbs than and way smaller than the intended size, the key piece was to outfit the boat like heck to maintain enough contact around the hips and knees/thighs. I hit my first roll on the third lake practice.

Since I was learning on my own, there was no one there to tell me the CapeLookout would make it "hard" for me to learn to roll in. (Planting seeds of doubt.) I just assume it was rollable and it was.


Learning to Roll

– Last Updated: Jan-26-08 7:24 AM EST –

Technique develops over time. The boat is here and now. When my buddies and I were learning how to roll we all failed miserably in wide, flat-bottomed whitewater boats. We all got our first roll in the Perception Pirouette; a longer, narrow boat that sits low in the water.

When you teach a kid to ride a bike you don't put him on a Tour de France time trial bike. You use training wheels. Same with boats.

narrow boat that sits low in the water
sure does help…

Two of the easiest boats to roll are the Pirouette and Piedra.

Planing hull boxy ww boats are harder to roll than most decent sea kayaks.

We are holding onto my wife’s Piedra because it is so easy. It is the boat I want to use to teach people to roll. As far as sea kayaks, the original Elaho (15’10" skegged) is maybe the easiest and we are keeping ours, in great part, because of its usefulness as a schooling boat. My Romany also can serve that purpose while also being a great guest boat.

The closest production sea kayak to a ‘rolling boat’ that I know of is the Outer Island.

The OI is very easy to roll whether forward or aft finishing, but the low back deck makes teaching the layback roll much easier. However, it doesn’t solve the outfitting problem. Even though the foredeck is lower, you can still slide all over the place in the keyhole OI. On the other hand, the ocean cockpit OI from a contact point of view is terrific.

Don’t Get “Psyched Out…”

– Last Updated: Jan-26-08 9:46 AM EST –

There is nothing about Solstice (aside from fit/outfitting) that will make any more difficult to roll than most other seakayaks.

As I posted above, I learned to roll in a Capelookout and I was very small for the boat. I also had a Squall, the smaller Storm, based on the FG solstice. Nothing significant to make it more easy or difficult than most other touring boats with respect to rolling.

Go find a rolling class -- believe you can roll -- and go at it.


I just started rolling my Eddyline
nighthawk 17.5 this winter. My sense is that with determination and practice you WILL roll just about any boat. The Nighthawk 17.5 is 24.5 inches in beam and is not known for being an easy roller with is volume and high deck. I will be rolling a P&H Cetus tomorrow and can give you my opinion of the difference afterwards. When I rolled the NH it was not like bells and lights went off and I said “oh so thats what it takes”. I think I got not so good professional instruction to start with and it turned out that another instructor at a pool session offered to help me and got me growing towards the roll. For me the roll is one continuous motion and not the assemblage of its components as is so often taught. I like to rock the boat upside down just as I do on the surface when snapping an edge. It is almost like a 1,2,3 go sort of feeling. My feeling is as stated above, the more secondary stability, the more resistance to come back. It seems logical. I will let you know tomorrow. I thought I would offer my two cents because my first rolls are so recent and fresh in my mind and not because I claim to be good at anything.

OI OC Question
Did you find that in the OC version you could use the boat with your legs straight as with a SOF better than in the regular version? And did you outfit it with level masik like foam or use the W or boob-like foam approach often seen with AAs and Pintails. I ask since from my one short experience with the OI OC I remember thinking the front deck was high enough that the W foam outfitting would be needed. I find the OC actually enables a looser fit to work fine since you really don’t brace yourself in the boat with foot pressure to gain thigh contact which is needed in a keyhole just to stay in the boat without radical outfitting. Especially if the front deck is really low as in a typical SOF. Or at least that is my experience, what little of it I have…