Rolling a Sea Kayak

I’ve had a couple of whitewater courses, but moved far away from any whitewater. Now I am into flatwater and purchased a 15-foot sea kayak (Dagger Editsto). Is it possible/difficult to roll a kayak of that length? Would the DVDs being sold on the topic of rolling be of help? I’m interested in trying to learn solo in my swimming pool.

Sea Kayaks are easier to roll
than ww boats.

DVDs will help

A swim mask too. That made a huge difference for me. You’ll be roll’n that baby in no time.

nose plugs!
Paddle float is an excellent rolling aid.

possible? sure … easy? nope
in my expereience, it’s a much less steep learning curve if you have instruction, as opposed to learning by yourself. yes, you CAN teach yourself to roll but since you cannot see or generally feel your own mistakes, it’s very hard to correct them. far too easy to repeat the same mistakes without knowing you’re making them and thus, what are you learning really?

find a qualified instructor … i think you’ll be much happier with the results and they’ll come much quicker.

you are now free to move about the swimming pool.

Possible and difficult
and definitely possible. Though learning on your own will likely take much longer – and a self-taught roll, when you do “get it,” may not be as consistent because you won’t have the coaching points to go back to when it doesn’t work.

How much on-water experience do you have? I encourage learning to roll, but I also encourage working first on basic skills that will help you build a consistent roll – forward sweep, paddle braces, hip snap, edging, being comfortable under the water in your boat.

For comments on learning in a whitewater kayak vs. a sea kayak see

Good luck!

If you can roll ww boat
You should have no trouble rolling a sea kayak.

It is the same thing, though I’ve been told a longer boat often rolls more slowly than a whitewater boat. I’ve never rolled a white water boat. Friends who come from whitewater seem to have no trouble rolling expedition (17+ ft)length boats.

Just be cetain that you have good contact inside the cockpit.

Did you roll a WW boat?

You took some WW courses but did you do any rolling in them?

If you can (or could) roll a WW boat, you should not have too much trouble in the Edisto. If you’ve done a roll, try it in the new boat.

Length is not an obstacle
Cockpit outfitting, or lack thereof, is more likely to pose problems. I don’t know what your new kayak’s outfitting consists of, but you should be able to get a feel for how it will work in a roll based on how it feels just paddling it. If you have a lot of slop room in the butt/hips or thigh braces, that will make it harder to roll.

Another thing that might cause problems is depth of the new kayak, especially if you have a short torso or arms.

Can you already roll a WW kayak? If you do, and the new kayak’s outfitting fits you well, rolling it should not be difficult.

I learned to roll in a sea kayak before rolling a WW kayak and found the latter easier to roll, but not by much. It had a different feel, though not so different as to make or break the roll.

Differences in hull shape, overall weight, beam, depth, paddle blade size, etc. might result in different “feel”, so I’m not going to say that one is universally easier to roll than the other.

If you don’t know how to roll any kayak yet, I agree with the others that it will be much more productive to have someone teach you 1-on-1 than just watching DVDs. The DVDs are good for getting a general idea of the process, reviewing what you’ve already learned, getting tips, and checking against common problems. But there’s nothing like having a knowledgeable roller help you.

Most are going to be easier.
Especially compared to some of the newer WW boats with high flat sides and wide hulls. Length does not matter. But hull and deck design do.

BTW, do not listen to the people who say it is hard to learn to roll. A good instructor can have you rolling in an hour or less. I have done it many times, as have others on this board.

Not so fast
"A good instructor can have you rolling in an hour or less." Often true, but rolling a few times in a pool with an instructor right there beside you does not mean that your body and mind KNOW how to roll. You’ve done it, but you don’t really know how to do it yet.

Just like you said, I first rolled in a pool after about 50 minutes of instruction, but it took another two years of intermittent practice (and lots of failture and frustration) before I could roll consistently in real conditions – and I think that is true to the experience of a lot of paddlers. Rolling is different from knowing how to roll.

Yes but …
I rolled in my first lesson, but when I tried it on my own I had some problems. How did I get past that … I learned the most from Eric Jackson’s Rolling and Bracing DVD. I think someone could actually teach themself to roll in 15 minutes as he says. Might be hard to do EJ’s roll in some seakayaks though. It works in three different boat styles I have tried it with. I second taking a lesson though. It’s hard to see what’s going wrong and can give you some confidence if you are uneasy about being upside down underwater stuck in the boat, something many people have trouble with.

I agree to this extent
I am still “learning” to roll. I try new rolls. I try to come up faster. I make adjustments. I try to roll without a setup. I try different boats. And so on. And I know one roll in a pool is not going to prepare you for conditions. But what I see a lot of is psyching yourself out because you think rolling is so hard. Certainly some people take longer to get a reliable roll but I definitely believe there is a factor of fear and dread that interferes with success and leads people to struggle more than they need to. That is one reason I like to teach the EJ roll initially. It is easy to learn and quicker to develop into a reliable roll. Then you can move on to do any other roll you want and know you can always come up if you fail at the new roll. It is a great confidence builder.

Short Torso
Don’t want to hijack the thread, but what kind of problems do those with a short torso experience? Maybe that’s why I have trouble . . .


We Can Talk

– Last Updated: Oct-26-05 7:49 PM EST –

Yes, your boat is probably easier to roll than a ww kayak. A DVD that I highly recommend is Eric Jackson's Rolling and Bracing (or Bracing and Rolling... it's loaned out so I can't check).

This guy's boat handling method and teaching method worked great for me.

I had some group instruction and came away with a very unreliable roll that I completely lost. After watching the Jackson video several times I was amazed at how my bracing and rolling improved.

Yeah... nose plugs good.
Spotter good also when learning.

Short people can roll too…

– Last Updated: Oct-26-05 4:57 PM EST –

I'm not sure how a short torso would make it any more difficult than being short (short torso + short legs).

A short torso might make it easier because there is less of a lever arm.

I know a few short people that have no problems rolling a WW boat or sea kayak.

Your "trouble" is likely the usual suspecs (eg, raising your head, using too much force).

short torso…
The reason people with short torsos sometimes struggle with rolling certain kayaks is that they are used to (taught to) setup with their hands/paddle on the surface of the water and they are unable do so. Obviously when you understand the roll you can roll perfectly fine with the paddle submerged but at least initially, this is a tricky concept for people to understand.

Rolling with a short torso…

– Last Updated: Oct-27-05 1:09 AM EST –

In most classes you are taught to bend all the way over to the side with your arms sticking up so that your knuckes "feel air", if somebody has a short torso or a beer belly they can not come close to getting both hands above the surface in that roll up position. If you learn that all you have to do is scull the paddle up close to the surface or slap the paddle on the surface with an extended paddle you can roll with a short torso and a layback roll helps out. NOTE ADDED IN PROOF... Ooops Having seen the whole thread, it looks like Schizopak already said this basically

have you tried EJ’s method? Like most great kayakers he is kind of a mighty mouse size of guy, does not have a long torso or long arms and he shows how to right the boat even with the paddle at 90 degrees to the surface, if you are having trouble rolling I really suggest trying it out, it was the breakthrough that helped me have a lot more fun in kayaks.

Not only this, but also …
Setting up with your forward hand as high as possible leads to pulling down on the paddle. Slack off a bit on stretching the forward hand as high as possible and you will find it is a lot easier to control the sweep (whether sweep, C-to-C, or EJ) with your body.