rolling a rec kayak?

I was told by someone that he rolled a recreational kayak. I have an old town otter and I think it might be possible to roll it. Has anyone ever rolled a rec kayak? Is there any certain trick to it? thanks

If you had a super powerful roll
then you might be able to. Learning in one from the ground up not likely at all. (Read : snowball’s chance…)

Defeating the purpose

– Last Updated: Apr-18-05 11:51 PM EST –

In order to be able to roll it without a dangerous exertion, you would have to outfit the cockpit for a snug fit. Since one the main reasons to paddle a "rec" kayak is to have a spacious cockpit you can move around in, that would kind of defeat the purpose of the boat.

Having said that, let me say that rolling kayaks that are supposed to be unrollable is a cool stunt that I indulge in myself. If there is a trick to it, I would say it's roll slowly using an extended paddle. Be prepared for a bruise on your hip when you slide down the seat and hit the lower side.

Have to agree with Peter.
I’m not saying it can’t be done mind you. Flatpick rolled a Pungo100 about a year or so ago, but he is a skilled paddler with many miles beneath his hull. I did it once in my Pungo140, but it was seven shades of ugly, and I doubt I’ll be doing it again any time soon. If you’re learning to roll, pick a boat made to roll, and have a friend spot you. Him/her flipping you back up when you give the signal beats wet exiting and everything associated with getting back to the start position. A friend can also spot your weak spots for you. Now if you’ve got a roll and are just messing about, try a C-to-C as Otters have very high, stiff seat backs. I tried to roll a Rush once, which is close to an Otter. It is definately rollable, but I failed due to my lack of experience and my arrested layback. Either way, have fun and good luck.


I watched someone do it
Interesting that when a friend of a friend rolled a borrowed rec boat he did it with some forward speed. Seemed to help the momentum to get back up. I was impressed.

How Hard Is a Vista to Roll?
Just wondering how hard a Walden Vista is to roll? It’s 12.5 feet and 24 inches wide.

I’ve rolled the Vista,
and it actually rolled quite easy, although I used a sweep roll rather than a c-to-c. I watched my best friend c-to-c roll a Walden Experience. I’ve come close to sweep rolling a Perception Acadia 12.5, I’m convinced with some practice I could sweep roll it.

So yes, some are possible, but the roll on these Kayaks is NOT dependable, as it took a lot of energy, and flawless form.


A sweep roll can be finished at 90
degress. In this the seat presents no more obstacle to a sweep roll than it does during the c to c.

I’ve seen it done
At the last NH Paddlesports show in Durham, a few were done during the demos in the pool. I think they were all Wilderness Systems Pungo 120s.

If you can’t
roll any of these rec boats then you have a bad roll. Years ago Mike Neckar said something that I have never forgotten, and I think is applicable. A customer commented to him that his Arluk whatever was easy to roll. He replied "#@! once you really know how to roll you can roll the F#@!*ing Queen Mary. Now you may have to sweep more, but I haven’t found any of the rec boats hard to roll, other than you have to really wedge your knees against the coaming.

I’m half way there
with my Sundance. Now to just figure how to get back upside right…

Well Northman,
Getting started is half way done. So if you went the other half, I’d say you did it! Good job.

Since you can do half…
…try doing a wet re-entry and start with the second half!

Rolling Tandem
I don’t know if this qualifies as a rec yak, but it sure felt like one when we got into this Necky Amaruk. Its 17’ 10" L x 28.5" W. It had no padding, but we had no problem rolling it. Here is a link to some pics that were taken.

Vista beam 24; otter beam 28.5
bit of difference.

Anything is possible…
Recreational, canoe, sit-on-top, tandem…have seen them all rolled. Good technique is what it needs. If you are braced in OK you should be able to roll it.

so true
One thing that really bothers me about kayak reviews (especially in Sea Kayaker mag) is when people claim that a boat “rolls easily”.

Does the boat also do an easy sweep stroke?

Jeepers, people, WW canoeists roll boats that are as wide or wider than many rec kayaks. And it is easy. Rolling is a skill to learn, not a boat to buy.

In fact, if you can connect to a paddlecraft properly, if it is hard work to roll it, you are likely doing something wrong.

karl (who cannot roll his Cleaver-X without a waist strap)

A roll is ownership of technique.

team wave sport’s North countrypersons, or me

we were rollin fools proving it is no biggie


roll that otter
If you can get yourself locked in and you can hit your roll, make it happen. Why not try? Rec boats roll.

Five years from now, someone will post
this same query. And in those intervening five years, almost no one will be rolling rec kayaks. Just as very few will be rolling canoes, even WW open canoes. I have been paddling SE whitewater for thirty years, and I can’t remember ever seeing anyone roll a WW canoe. Oh, I’m sure some do it. I know Nolan Whitesell personally, and he does it. But he is one of the exceptions that proves the rule.

REC KAYAKS AND OPEN CANOES ARE NOT DESIGNED TO BE ROLLED. You can mouth all your talk about if you roll well, you can roll the Queen Mary, but ladies and gentlemen, that is bull. Some kayaks, and some decked canoes, are designed to be rolled with reasonable ease, and some are not. And even if you are good enough to roll an unsuitable design, that does NOT prove that all boats are equally easy to roll. Sea Kayak magazine is right. Some boats are easier to roll than others, and that is an entirely valid characteristic for designers to produce for the market.

I learned to roll in a kayak which remains the hardest of all my kayaks to roll. I like the boat, and paddle it often, but I would not choose it for heavy whitewater, in part because it requires too perfect a roll, and no one can generate that perfect, stereotypical roll every time.