Rolling a rec boat?

Can you do this? I have an Emotion Glide, a 29" wide rec boat. For sure it is possible to turn it over (LOL), so can I roll it if I have a skirt? If not, what denotes the limits of what type of boat can be rolled by a normal person (not by the pros alone!)


Someone with a bomber roll could probably flatwater roll a 29 inch rec boat. Heck there are people who can roll super wide SOT’s using thigh straps. It certainly wouldn’t be the boat of choice if you’re just learning the roll basics or when conditions get hairy.

It can be rolled but …
If you are planning on learning how to roll, don’t do it in a rec boat.

The wide cockpit does not provide your “rolling knee” to brace against the deck when you hip snap to roll the boat over.

The high seat back on the barcalounger seat means you can’t do a layback roll which is best for wide unwieldy boats.

The width of the boat is not so much an issue as the hull shape, it will be balky to flip because of the shape of the hull, you likely will need to do an extended paddle roll and maybe even some skulling. If you want to learn to roll get a different kayak. Old school whitewater boats can be had cheaply and are very easy to roll.

possible, but not likely
I have seen a video of Helen Wilson (a professional Greenland roller) roll a rec boat (and I think she was using a hockey stick, and not a paddle, at that). But it is not likely that a normal person like you or I would ever been able to roll a rec boat.

Two issues:

  1. generally, you can’t get a purchase at the knees to be able to hip snap the boat.
  2. the skirts for large cockpit boats likely would pop off at the slightest body contortion (as when you roll) or pressure from water, so the boat would be full of water after the roll, which may or may not allow you to continue on paddling.

    I am assuming you are asking about a roll just for the fun of it, and not because you believe that is the only rescue method should your flip your Glide? For most people, a paddle float rescue, 2 person T-rescue, or maybe a cowboy scramble would be the first rescue methods. I don’t think the Glides have a lot of flotation, so likely none of these would work well without adding float bags. Worth trying, and seeing if it works as is or if you have to add float bags (or just make sure you never push the boundaries of where you paddle and conditions and all).

Do you need to?

– Last Updated: Sep-08-12 9:01 AM EST –

The Emotion Glide, if I have the right boat, is truly a rec boat - no perimeter rigging, no bulkheads and short enough forward that stowing anything much up front for a purpose like camping would be a challenge. I admit the manufacturer's statement sounds like it is a bot for an advancing paddler, but overall it is a basic rec boat that should not be any place that you can't swim in from. Rolling has been covered, and other forms of re-entry can also be very difficult in a boat like this.

So - are you asking about rolling this boat because you'd just like to try, or is it because you want to take the boat places where you might need to? If it is the latter, you'd be better off checking around used for more boat.

Not for basic rescue at all
I learned those on a sea kayak and am confident of that ability. This is only for fun or to at least have the skill handy, should the boat ever tip on me. It would not be my ONLY option, believe me!

This is the boat I own and use (not in the ocean). So it makes sense, since I can’t get my hands on another boat, to learn to roll this one if it’s reasonably possible.

You do understand what the boat is and isn’t.

I can get knee purchase under it, having long legs, BTW. I do have a skirt that holds tight. And I have outfitted it with flotation bags front and back that are very reliable. Have also added deck rigging.

In other words, I have basically outfitted this little rec boat about as best one can. It’s not for ocean use, but it is my only kayak and the one I will be using for quite some time in canals, sloughs, and reasonably flat water.

So it makes sense to learn to roll this if it’s reasonably possible, since I don’t have easy access to another boat.

If you have decent support for bracing your feet and knees and a skirt that stays on, you can probably roll it. Plenty of folks can roll canoes that are 29" wide or more.

You might need to add some minicell foam to pad your hips to get you tighter in the boat so that your lower body motion is better coupled to rotating the boat.

But it surely won’t be the easiest boat to learn how to roll in. Nor is it the best boat to paddle in places where you anticipate a likely need to roll it.

OK, but ~$300 would get you a kayak
designed to be rolled.

Sure, and surprisingly easy at that
I borrowed a friend’s bot, which I think was either the same as yours or very close to it. Rolled surprisingly easy. But I have a decent roll already. When I was learning to roll, I was for a first time successful in a long narrow kayak with a relatively low rear deck. Some5hing like a WS Tempest 165 or Zephyr will help you learn to roll fast. Something like the Glide will give you a lot of trouble to learn.

Just to pput things in prospective, many white water kayaks are 26-28" wide and just as stable as a Glide, and few people complain they are hard to roll. The difference is that the glide and the like lack good fittment for the paddler and the thigh bracing is a weak area too. But a tall person has decent purchase with the knees in the glide - just add some foam to make it comfortable on the knees/thights to brace/roll…

I actually have a set of adjustable, removable hip braces. I took them off after having hip replacement surgery, so would have to put them back in. But the thighs easily brace into the gunwhales underneath. And I use an inflated double paddle float to lift my knees, which really helps hold the thighs tightly into the gunwhales. So if that’s the only issue, I can deal with it.

Have no idea how one rolls other than that there is a lean back (or forward?), a sweep stroke of some kind, and a hip snap. That last one would be hard for me as yet.

But rest assured I won’t attempt this until I have suitable instruction from a skilled live person!

as I often tell folks… a good used kayak is way better than a crappy new one. Plus you can often sell if for the same or more than you paid.

Hip replacement surgery ???
The force of the roll actually comes from your hip transferring leverage to your knee from upper torso rotation to rotate the boat. - thus the HIP SNAP. Talk to your orthopedist before you try rolling a barge. I roll wide waveskis and really feel it in my hip so be careful.

Sure, it can be done

– Last Updated: Sep-08-12 8:55 PM EST –

Here's a guy rolling a rec boat that's 12' long x 28" wide -- with no skirt!

hip snap
Or knee lift or however you want to think about it… all rolls start with and rely on that except for true greenland rolls. You don’t have a boat suited for those.

Relying too much on the paddle is a good way to damage your shoulder, and a common newbie mistake when a good snap is not present.

With restrictions around your hips, given the rotation involved to roll, I suggest you do not try to learn in this boat, or by yourself. Get to someone who can start you right and find ways to protect your post surgical joints.

A bit more gracefull hull though
and a little water in the boat is actually cheating .

Here’s a guy rolling a Pungo 140-

One of if not the most popular rec boats with a huge cp opening.

Here’s another . . .
. . . roll of a wide rec boat with no skirt:

Neanderthals must have been stronger
Because back in the Neanderthal days, when people used to paddle truly open canoes in whitewater, lots of those Neanderthal paddlers could roll those open canoes, bagged or unbagged.

John Berry often told of rolling 36" wide Grumman’s back in the 40’s.

One of selling points of Neanderthal Whitesell’s Piranha, 34" wide, was it’s ease of rollability after running Great Falls on the Potomac or during runs of the North Fork of the Payette and the Niagara Gorge. Nolan liked to demonstrate 10 rolls in his canoes: high brace roll, low brace roll, cross roll, double hand roll and single hand roll – all righty; and then the same five lefty.

Depending somewhat on the rocker line and gunwale line shapes, an unbagged open canoe is often easier to roll than an bagged canoe.

You do, of course, need some sort of thigh straps or braces, which should be easy enough to install in a rec kayak.

29" decked boat: piece of mammoth cake to a Neanderthal paddler.

Didn’t know you could roll a canoe! Was surprised when I saw a YouTube of a guy rolling an open kayak. So I’m really new to this aspect of kayaking, for sure.

Ummmm, real Neanderthals did not likely have any sort of canoe. If anything, and this is doubtful that long ago, they may have had a crude raft.

But Neanderthal canoes as a brand, well that’s funny!