rolling advice needed: sea kayak vs. ww

I was out on a lake yesterday and tried to roll my sea kayak and found to my surprise that I was having great difficulty doing so. I had on a diving mask but due to the high level of algae in the water, it was the equivalent to rolling blind. The problem I had was that I couldn’t seem to get my blade in the proper orientation relative to the water. I eventually rolled up with a sloppy extended paddle but it definitely wasn’t satisfactory to me. I was practicing on my whitewater kayak this past weekend and was hitting my roll (sweep) each time without a problem with eyes closed, strange setups, different paddle orientations, etc. My whitewater paddle has a very slight feather compared to my sea kayak paddle which may be the source of the problem. While underwater, I literally had to feel the blade of my paddle to figure out it’s orientation. How do you guys know if your paddle is in the correct setup position with just the grip alone? For me the length of the paddle and the higher degree of feathering really confused me.

If you’re doing a right-hand sweep with a right-hand-control paddle, the feather angle shouldn’t matter unless the left blade is interfering with the hull. It should be easy enough to diagnose by swapping paddles.

My touring and WW boats have a different feel when rolling, but I don’t know exactly what I change going from one to the other. The differences in boat volume and outfitting do make the setup positions a bit different.

rolling ww vs. long boat
it is definitely more dificult to roll that long boat vs. a WW boat. the latter is forgiving of sloppy mechanics due to it’s low volume, high rocker hull design. the long boats require much better technique (can you say “hip snap”?). the paddle mechanics should be the same.

thanks guys
I was always under the impression that my planing hull whitewater kayak would be harder to roll than my sea kayak. I guess I was mistaken. I think outfitting does have a huge impact though. My whitewater boat fits like a glove while my sea kayak is more like a catchers mit! I need to put in some minicell to custom fit it better. Does the longer paddle have any impact? I know it offers more leverage but it also seemed much more difficult to manuever underwater.

rolling with sea kayak
The kind of roll you need for most sea kayaking is not the same as for WW. Generally, you have plenty of time, if you need it, to run your hand down the paddle shaft to the blade to confirm blade orientation before beginning your roll. Also, there’s nothing wrong at all with an extended paddle roll in most sea kayaking situations. An extended paddle sweep can help to slow down your roll to match the slower rotation of a sea kayak, especially a full-loaded one.

that’s true
Usually in sea kayaking it isn’t a flip or hit rocks situation. I guess in my quest to go from “pool/calm water roller” to a combat roll, I’m hoping to develop a solid sweep roll and rely on the extended paddle as my backup roll. From a practicing standpoint, I also liked being able to roll up quickly after missing a brace to keep a good practice cadence going. Oh well. I guess I’ll need to work on my outfitting first and then get used to adjusting to the differences betewwn my sea kayak and ww kayak.

Don’t Bother
Dress for full emersion and learn wet exist and re-entry techniques before learning the roll. That is far more important. Don’t take advise from WW kayakers on the roll. Whitewater is very different than paddling the ocean. In WW you can swim to shore. Don’t let big egos get in the way of safety.

I wouldn’t say that my sea kayak is harder to roll than the ww boat – it’s narrower with a rounder hull, and rolls just fine. I think the whiewater boat tends to “pop” up once I’m past the tipping point, whereas the sea kayak requires more of a continuous roll. A C-to-C or sweep works with both of them.

Outfitting does make a huge difference. I kept falling out of my sea kayak until I modified the thighbraces.

Don’t discourage him!
Why in the world would you discourage anyone from trying to learn to roll? Rolling is a tremendously useful skill and Schizopak should be praised for his efforts to learn to roll and encouraged to continue. You sound like many non-rollers who try to drag others down to their level or prevent them from learning something they haven’t been able to. That’s just plain wrong.

You also contradict yourself regarding wet exits. You encourage him to do so in a sea kayak, where one often does not have the luxury of swimming the boat to shore to re-enter. Rolling is the best way to prevent oneself from ending up in a situation where a rescue (self or assisted) is necessary after a capsize. Rolling is ALWAYS preferable to swimming. Better still is having good enough bracing skills to prevent the need to roll, but that’s another subject.

i understand

– Last Updated: Jul-28-04 1:30 PM EST –

about dressing for emersion and always do so. I think you missed the point though. I already have a roll and was just asking for suggestions as to how to manage the differences between rolling my whitewater kayak vs. my sea kayak.

edited to add: I AM a whitewater kayaker as well as a sea kayaker so I need to learn the skills of both worlds. As for self rescue techniques, I am fairly proficient in paddle float self rescues if need be. I'm just a student of kayaking in general and looking to develop skills so that I can enjoy the sport to it's fullest. (I know my high brace is my weakness right now but am working hard to fix that!)

So I guess we can assume,
you can’t roll a boat?

Too Bad, its fun and a great skill to have. I can also assure you I would rather paddle with people that can roll as opposed to folks who swim and will need assistance getting back into their boat. Besides, the origonal poster is a WW boater as well.

Slap The Blade Down
on the surface with a semi loose grip. That 'll flatten the blade to the surface, get a secure grip again, sweep… (this is provided that wrong angled blade is the issue).


PS. I don’t get why some folks like to think rolling is an “ego” thing when in fact it is a basic skill and becomes more vital in increasingly challenging venues. There are times a swim is just not a good option.

poor advice - - -
don’t bother? rolling, whether in a WW boat or sea kayak is the best method there is to avoid a swim. anyone suggesting a wet exit and then having to get back in a boat full of water certainly hasn’t spent much time in the ocean … and probably hasn’t spent much time in a boat in general.

that’s a great suggestion
thanks sing! You always have some good tips for me. I’ll try that out when I’m on the water today after work. In case my paddle is flipped completely around, is it possible to roll up with the powerface facing the sky?

“Don’t take advise from WW kayakers on the roll.”

Hello, can you read??? He IS a whitewater kayaker! And he can roll his WW boat fine. And he can roll his sea kayak too. His inquiring about the difference between the two.

“Whitewater is very different than paddling the ocean. In WW you can swim to shore. Don’t let big egos get in the way of safety.”

As a former white water kayaker, I can tell you’ve never “play” in any white water. Because if you do, you wouldn’t have made that silly statement about “swim to shore”! But I’ll leave that to you to contemplate as to why. Hint: you have to actually DO it to understand.

Just about every white water kayaker I know who regularly does class III or more can roll. When they cross over to sea kayaking, they bring their rolling skill with them. That threatens the hell out of many old-timer sea kayakers who never dream about rolling because they thought it was so hard they even have to come up with gazilion “reason” why rolling is “less important”.

What is a Sea Kayak, anyway?
No offense intended here, Schizopak, but don’t you paddle a Perception Sonoma 13.5?

Seems like a short boat with only a stern bulkhead like yours wouldn’t be considered a true ‘sea kayak’, but more of a cross between a touring and rec boat.

Anyways, at less than 23 inches wide, it should be a snap to roll.

lol, good point
it’s actually a “day tourer” officially. I guess I throw the term sea kayak out a bit loosly. I think I was just used to hearing it used interchangeably with “touring” kayaks and picked up some bad lingo habits. I didn’t mean to mislead anyone and yes I paddle the Sonoma 13.5. :slight_smile: It is fairly easy to roll (high backband excluded) and I guess my trouble was more paddle setup related than the actual boat or my hip stap.

I had the same problem
When I start on the initial sweep, I can immediately feel if I had the paddle at the wrong angle. Either the blade dives, or there’s so much resistance in the blade that I can barely swing it. I found by rotating my wrist up or down a little during the sweep, I can feel the angle that had the right resistance and lift. Though I usually have to restart the sweep with the right blade orientation again in order to roll up successfully. That seem to work for me.

I haven’t done any whitewater for quite some time now. So I don’t remember that was ever an issue back then. I guess I’ll find out once I restarted on white watering, which I intend to do soon.

Have heard it both ways
Some people have told me WW is easier to roll, others say sea kayaks are easier.

My own limited experience is that sea kayaks are easier to roll than my WW SOT (but then again SOTs are said to be the most difficult to roll of them all).

When you capsize and have set up, let the paddle go slightly loose in your hands and let it float up to the surface so that the blades are fairly flat. I found that tip (from the video/DVD “The Kayak Roll”) helpful.

Also, if you have a fairly short torso in relation to the depth of the kayak (like myself), make sure that you bend yourself as close to the side of the kayak as possible while setting up underwater. If you let your upper body get too far away from the kayak, it means there is much more of a reach to clear the water’s surface and makes the roll less likely to succeed.

I had to consciously tell myself, “REACH UP” when learning to roll due to shortness of torso in relation to boat depth. Although the blade can be in the water rather than on top of it, it’s easier if it’s on top. Don’t forget to let your body twist so that the hip snap merges with the sweep.