Rolling and different hull shapes?

-- Last Updated: Nov-28-06 8:21 PM EST --

Do those who have a solid roll down find a distinct difference or the need for different body mechanics when rolling a hard chine hull to a modified chine or soft chine hull? Does the type of chine a boat have present different issues/problems when rolling?

There are differences
Each model has it’s own personality for rolling, some of which is hard to predict until you try them. I like hard chined boats, but I find they often have a little hitch in the roll, a little barrier to be overcome as the boat comes around. Boats like the Valley Avocet with a rounded hull will come around more smoothly. That said, I find the rounded hulls lacking in final stability when you really heel them over.

Another observation: even with the hesitation spot of a hard chine hull, some of them may roll easier than some rounded hulls. I can remember working on norsaq rolls in the pool with a Romany and an Avocet. The Valley was smoother coming around in a regular roll, but the Romany worked much better for me with the norsaq - I guess because the Romany will sit on it’s side better, with the more vertical hull sides.

Moral: there are differences, but you have to try various boats out for yourself to see what you like…


my experience is much like Alan’s
who put it very well. generally i make no adjustments for different boats. a roll is a roll. ‘head down and hips’ is an Eric Jackson saying. i snap my hips hard enough, and the boat rolls up, regardless of hull shape, cross section, hard/soft chine, etc.

where i notice more differences is in doing fine skill stuff like sculling high braces. narrower boats with flatter sides, firmer chines (Tempest/NDK models) do sit nicely on their sides and make it easier to balance there. the low rear deck adds to that substantially.

Body mechanics …hmmmm

– Last Updated: Nov-28-06 10:38 PM EST –

I don't think there is too much difference in body mechanics, but as Alan said, some boats (like his hard chined SOF) do seem to have a little hitch when coming around. I also noticed (to a lesser degree) a little hitch in his Tempest RM 170, but like he said, my Avocet just rolls right around.

I recently got to paddle a Point 65N Crunch Rocker. This is a hard chined RM boat, and it has a low rear deck. I did not notice any 'hitch' at all when I rolled this boat, so now I'm wondering if the 'hitch' I have felt in some boats is really caused by the depth of the flat side. Maybe the deeper sided boats, like the Tempest 170 vs. the Crunch Rocker, have a greater tendency to exhibit this 'hitch'?

Bottom line is - I do not try to correct body mechanics for different boats. I just jump in and roll them. Maybe over time I would tweak my roll to a particular boat, but most likely that would be the result of just getting lazy and familiar with the boat.

I do find C to C rolls difficult to do in some sea kayaks. I think, however, it is likley my lack of experience with this roll as I first learned a sweep/screw roll and that is what I automatically go to.

Volume and beam
Mostly I think Alan’s articulation is consistent with my experience.

However, I think the volume and beam of the boat maybe significant aspects. Of my four kayaks, my Elaho DS and Romany roll with the least effort and are very forgiving of weak hip snap or lack of follow through. My ww boat, a Prijon Rockit, is the least forgiving and requires the strongest hip snap. It is the widest of my boats. My Aquanaut falls between in forgiveness. It is the same width as my Romany, but 1.5 feet longer.

Not really
If you can roll, any of the common boats listed on this site roll very easily.

those elements that define a particular aspect of hull shape do not define how that hull responds to a 5’2" paddler or a 6’4" paddler.

That someone can discern a difference doesn’t mean the difference matters regarding the ability to roll or not.

In a way it’s like asking whether power bars or bananas and small jelly sandwiches are better for winning long races.

Some Difference…

– Last Updated: Nov-29-06 5:37 AM EST –

but nothing significant between kayaks, as far as I am concerned these days. The DIFFERENCE to me is rolling a waveski and rolling a kayak of any kind. The former is matter of either you can roll or you can't. With waveskis, there isn't an "in between" (sculling) as with kayaks, even a bit with surf kayaks.

Rolling it's a skill that can be picked up "relatively" easy for many folks. Consistent rolling in conditions is a mind game that's harder to get good at. For me, out in the break zone, I don't think about what kind of roll, nuance feel to the craft, etc, etc, etc... One issue only -- get the craft back upright and get the heck of Dodge before the next wave breaks on me. The only "nuance" I care about is the feel of the power and direction in the water because that dictates more when, what side and how I am going to roll.


The type of chine
or no chine has nothing to do with how a kayak will roll. There are many other hull characteristics that effect how a kayak will roll. Don’t get hung up on hard chine or round hull differences. If you like one design over the other you should test paddle as many kayaks with those hull characteristics to find one that suites your needs.

The “Magic Bullet…”

– Last Updated: Nov-29-06 7:59 AM EST –

or the kayak that rolls itself! As Salty and LeeG pointed out, most of the kayaks that are often talked about in PNet can be rolled. If you have a dependable roll, it will roll.

Kinda like that question which kayak is "faster..." The difference among similar kayaks are minute. It's the engine, the horse, or what have you.

The only time to really worry about the rolling difference of a kayak is if you're a rollaholic and want to compete in the a rolling contest. The only time you want to talk or care about some minor fraction of difference in speed of a kayak is if you competing against Barton and you're on his level where fractions of a second make a difference. Otherwise, yeah, I guess it's fun to speculate as these variations were of any significance for us merely average paddlers.


Not the chining

– Last Updated: Nov-29-06 2:17 PM EST –

Overall height of the boat is what I most notice. I am average female height, and a boat that sits (often too) deep on me will require more effort and more correct follow-thru than one that has lower deck height regardless of its chining. The most extreme was a Seaward Quest HV which had a 15 plus inch interior height and no outfitting inside, and I just couldn't get that thing up.

That said, there are diff's I feel in how the boat completes the roll, some of which contribute to its being more forgiving. The Romany/Explorer hull will continue to an upright position with pretty poor (barely existent) form on the part of the paddler once you get it onto its side compared to something like the Capella. I think it is because it is quite stable at that halfway position so doesn't need a lot of balance or strength from the paddler to take advantage of that moment.

Then there is the volume thing. Some I know feel that the Avocet is also fussier in the finish, while I find that it is so round in its motion that once you give it a good starting kick it is real willing to come up. But my fairly easy time with the boat, at least in a pool environment, has a lot to do with volume. It is really too big a boat for me so, especially in a PFD, it'll partly drag my torso up. A larger person, whose size is better mated to the boat, won't have the same advantage.

So IMO, while there may be diff's in how a hard or soft chined boat feels as it rolls up, I don't think the chining itself has much to do with how the paddler executes the plan. I think deck height and overall volume are much more critical in those respects.

Good post sing…Agree


– Last Updated: Nov-29-06 10:46 AM EST –

I agree that most of the questions about how hull shape relates to rolling or one boat versus another are of limited value for the most part.

But to expand on Sing's comments about rolling competition - the boats that roll the easiest will be very low volume. I would argue that reserve volume is the more important aspect relative to which boats are easy to roll versus which are harder to roll. Once you are dealing with boats of equal volume then the hulls can make a minor difference. What's really driving things though is the amount of and location of the volume / bouyancy relative to the paddler's Center of Gravity.

you are talking about just a roll, sweep, screw etc…hard or soft chine make no differance.

in fact one of the few places that having a hard chine boat would matter over having a soft chine boat, would be doing a Petrusin. And the only reason it would help in that is that it would give you an edge to get a grip on.

otherwise, there are boats that are easier to do some of the more difficult rolls (straightjacket roll) but it’s not because of hard vs soft chine.

best wishes


A barrel rolls easier than a box
When most people talk about the ease or stubborness of a boat with rolling, it’s usually their finish execution that they are taliking about and not how easy the boat travels around. All things equal, the hard chine boat will not travel around as smoothly as a round or soft chine hull. But that part doesn’t matter as much as how easy it is to complete the roll once the boat is around. As everyone said, the back deck height, width and all that stuff is what matters the most.

For the record, I found that the Looksha IV is a stubborn roller. You can tell when you scull it. It’s a little stubborn to finish and get up vs most other boats.

On a wide kayak, its the distance of the coaming edge to the boat edge that governs how easy it is to roll. On it’s side, a wide kayak has you suspended against the coaming forcing the boat to topple over on you a bit, making it harder to twist up. On a narrow boat where the coaming is as wide as the kayak, this doesn’t happen. It’s one factor that’s often over-looked or not understood.

Probably It Was A Good Thing…
that I didn’t know much of anything when I started to learn to roll. I did it alone, at a pond in the middle of Novemeber, in a CapeLookout – a barge compared to my current long boats. Once I rolled it, that was it. I knew it was doable and that it was just a matter of improving my mechanics to repeat that consistently.


…but a box will stop rolling better
Yes a barrell rolls easier but like you mentioned, the trick with rolling is the finish. A box shaped kayak (playboat) will flop upright at which point you don’t have to do a lot to stabilize the kayak under you while a barrel shaped kayak will require consistent pressure and a good sense of balance to finish the roll. With that said, the best rolling boat I’ve ever been in was Dubside’s Feathercraft Wisper.

the best rolling boat(s)
In my limited experience rolling boats (only about a dozen or so models) the easiest were an Outer Island and a Pirouette S.

Like Jay, I found the Looksha IV a demanding boat to roll. (I just cannot resist being able to honestly say “like Jay” about something regarding kayaks)

More than the overall beam, Jay’s note of the distance from the coaming to the side of the boat helps me understand why my Rockit is harder to roll than any of my sea kayaks - it has a pretty great distance from the coaming to the side of the boat. Also, as noted, it is the finish that is more demanding.

What makes a boat harder to roll
is the demands it places on the paddler and the ability of the paddler to meet those demands. For example, some WW boats have high, flat sides. If you have short arms, a short torso, or lack flexibility such a boat will be harder for you to roll. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to roll such a boat but it will take increasing your flexibility (and maybe losing weight) and being more precise in your technique. If you can sing “Yankee Doodle” you cannot necessarily sing an operatic aria. There are Yankee Doodle boats (the Dagger Piedra) and aria boats (Liquid Logic Space Cadet). I guarantee that if you learn to roll the Piedra you will have trouble with the Space Cadet.

Planing vs. Displacement
Taking the hard chine difference a step further.

Rolling a planing hull boat definitely requires more, how should I say, deliberateness of technique (Class III and up is also a darn good motivator) If you think about the cross section of the boat this style is a rectangle

In comparison a narrower beamed hard chined boat will have more resistance points or “hitches” as has been mentioned previously. Take a kayak like a SOF or maybe a CD Caribou; more of a pentagon or some other multifaceted shape closer to a round.

Each of these corners of any chine will present a bubble of bouyancy which when o2 side up will work in your favor in giving a distinct feeling of more stability and a definitive feedback of when that bubble of bouyancy has passed it’s breakpoint and you are falling to the next point of stability (which might be upside down). When you’ve reached that terminal stability point with the fish then your technique is required to bring those volume points back around their break points in order to get the boat back upright bringing your body along with it.

All boils down to technique and as Sing had mentioned earlier that impending crashing wave of doom that’s giving you the motivation to be up and out of Dodge.

See you on (o2 side up I hope) the water,