Rolling ww kayak

I am having a little difficulty rolling my whitewater kayak. Anybody else who is good at rolling sea kayak have difficulty rolling ww kayak?

I don’t ww kayak much, but sea kayak (on lakes mostly) several times a week. Each time I sea kayak, I spend some time doing rolls. After all the rolling I do, I should be able to crank out a roll on my Jackson zen 55 kayak with no trouble. But I still struggle with it on the ww kayak. I can roll almost every time, but I strain to do so. The paddle starts to dive and I strain to grab water and brace for hip snap. My knee sometime starts to come out of the thigh brace.

I think the answer to my problem is lack of practice and some kayak adjustments. I am confident I can become adept at rolling the ww kayak, but not confident I can be at home rolling ww kayak as I am in my sea kayak. Which is too bad, because ww kayaking is inherently more dangerous and a solid roll thereby comparatively more important.

No issues with either
I have no issues with either. I learned in whitewater kayaks. Someone here recently said there are kayaks that roll like a plank and kayaks that roll like a log. I liked that description. A planing hulled wide whitewater kayak rolls more like a plank than a typical sea kayak. There is a definite tipping point that offers the most resistance to overcome. But once you push past it you flip upright very quickly. So the change in resistance is causing you to mess up some mechanics. I don’t know what roll you’re going for. With the sweep I use I know I’m messing up if I ever load the paddle regardless of the kayak type. But you may be using a roll that finishes with a high brace. Either way it’s quite possible that your change in kayak rotation is not being matched with your arms changing your blade angle. I guess that’s obvious enough when you state the blade starts diving.

The short hull of a ww kayak can upset
your effort. When you say your paddle dives, that suggests to me that the hull, perhaps mostly the stern, is diving, and taking your paddle angle out of where it should be.

My ww kayaks are “old school”, relatively long, and they behave properly when rolling.

hull shape can definately
change where you set up. In ww boats the setup is often not as aggressive as in a skinny boat. Mentally, picture this- keeping your control hand tucked into your butt hole (it helps to keep your elbow tucked in) . Also make sure you’ll feel air on your knuckles of the control hand before starting to roll. That may help with your paddle diving issue.

check your outfitting
If you feel yourself pulling out of the knee hook you may need to make and adjustment in your outfitting.

Whitewater kayaks are very often harder to roll than sea kayaks. As capefear points out, their boxy shape means they rotate less smoothly in the water than a more rounded sea kayak. As ezwater points out, their short length often allows the upside down boat to yaw in the water as you sweep which results in your paddle being beyond 90 degrees to the axis of the boat when you start to roll up.

Whitewater kayaks are often significantly wider than sea kayaks, although the Zen 55 is quite narrow for a WW kayak.

Having someone watch your roll might identify problems with your sweep or set up.

Make sure you are not setting up too far forward. Your hands on the paddle shaft should pretty much bracket the cockpit opening as you set up.

What type of roll are you using? If it is a C to C roll the thickness of the hull created by the knee bumps and the sharpish edge created by the relatively flat bottom joining the side of the hull can make it difficult for you to get tightly wrapped around the hull at the conclusion of the sweep and the beginning of the hip snap. A sweep roll will roll the boat up as you sweep and get the hull out of your armpit before you have swept out to 90 degrees.

Timing can be different

– Last Updated: Jun-18-14 8:08 AM EST –

You might also find that you have more trouble with some sea kayaks than others if you were to get into a bunch of them.

First, are you coming up with your torso laying back? Your knee coming loose can be from loose outfitting OR you are trying to finish the roll with your torso way behind it. I have found that some ww boats are less kind to that habit than others. My main ww is teeny and short. Once I am behind it like that the angles of me relative to the boat are really odd. I found that learning to finish the roll in a more forward position with the paddle ready for its first stroke helped.

I am not familiar with the Jackson ww boat you have, but in my main ww boat I find that the roll takes more oomph to initiate than my sea kayaks. It flops over in the last part kinda by itself - pretty flat - as long as I get it to that point fast enough. If I haven't gotten it there, it kinda turns at the same time I am trying to finish whatever work with the paddle and the two parts fail to work together and I flop back over.

I am sure that someone watching the roll would have a better description of what I am doing wrong, things like head up too soon etc, but that is what it feels like when I am flailing around.

It is possible that your sea kayak allows you to be more dependent on your paddle than you can get away with in the ww boat. The rounder the hull, the easier it is to solve issues partway up with the paddle rather than blowing by that point with a strong initiation.

Agree with the timing
From my observations coaching transition from one kind of a boat to another, the difference in timing the hip snap is due more to the paddle than the boat. A longer touring paddle seems to take a half beat more to get into a support position, the optimum time to execute the snap.

Try This:
Instead of thinking and doing ‘hip snap’, try bringing your boat up with a knee lift.

That could help, especially with the
slower paddle work of a slash roll.

I use a sweep roll
Thanks for all the comments!

My go to roll on sea kayak is a sweep roll, but when I am comfortable and playing around, these days I do more c to c or other type of rolls,

When I tip over on zen 65 (I bought kayak that was smaller so that I can control it better when surfing. The zen 75 seemed big. I tend to slouch and not sit up straight. Somebody mentioned sounds like back of boat being deeper in water and causing paddle to dive and so I thought I’d mention my posture here) I set up with a sweep roll and get my paddle out there to get ready for hip snap. Then I find my paddle starts to sink and I struggle to skull to prevent the sinking. Maybe sink is a better term than dive, which suggests the paddle face angle is not right.


– Last Updated: Jun-18-14 12:49 PM EST –

the way you think thru the roll...think about scraping the bottom of the kayak with the out of water blade. it will cause you to instinctively reach around the kayak and get you paddle in the proper position. by thinking about scraping the boat bottom, you shift your focus and break the bad habit of a diving paddle.
sometimes this works when a person is having the problem you are experiencing. Good luck
Best Wishes
edit...also remember you have a plank roller...takes a little more oomph-ta with the hips {good salsa hip}to get it over

No troubles switching
I learned to roll in a sea kayak and found that my WW boat feels different when rolling; no surprise there due to different hull shape. But I can roll either one. My go-to roll is the sweep roll. It’s the same roll in either boat.

Sounds like…
a combo of starting too late (you are behind the middle of the boat before you even start the hip snap) and having an inadequate response once there. But if you are too far back to start the hip snap/knee lift whatever works for you, it is difficult to pull off even oith a huge response.

This would not be a surprising thing to find switching from a sea kayak to a short little WW boat. In the sea kayak you have both more time to get to that position and easier sensory feedback about your angle to the boat. In my teacup ww boat, I have to keep it a little closer - literally - to make sure that she and I haven’t started to come apart.

I like the above suggestion, to get closer to the boat, that should fix part one if I am guessing right.

where’s Double Paddle Float?

“thigh braces” in JK boats
Jackson’s kayaks don’t have really “aggressive” thigh braces/hooks. When laying back it is pretty common for people’s knees to slip out. I took some foam wedges and glued them to the hull of my Zen 75 (on the outside of my knees), that seemed to help.

If you roll one type of kayak (or even a particular model of kayak) a lot you will subconsciously adapt your roll to that boat. When you switch boats things will feel different and that could play with your head.

When I roll a sea kayak my body can shift around a little bit. After a while I became accustomed to that. When I started WW kayaking I had to adjust my mechanics because my body wasn’t shifting around in the same way.

Similar Issues for me few years ago
This video helped me nail-down my WW kayak roll very quickly (had the same issues as you initially - fairly reliable sea kayak roll, fairly unreliable WW kayak roll):

This one is good too:

And practice :slight_smile:

I think you may have hit
the proverbial nail on the head with this:

“If you roll one type of kayak (or even a particular model of kayak) a lot you will subconsciously adapt your roll to that boat. When you switch boats things will feel different and that could play with your head.”

Obviously we can’t diagnose the OP’s problems with any precision via a textual medium, but assuming that he has a solid roll in his sea kayak, there’s nothing about the Zen that should inhibit transferability (other than, perhaps, needing a better fit) However, I have seen and experienced the phenomenon where even small changes in perception of how a roll “feels” at set-up will create the impression that the roll isn’t working, resulting in the paddler trying to muscle-up to compensate.

What seems to work best in these situations is deliberately slowing down the roll, particularly the set-up phase.

rolling in eddy currents
Good comments, especially last few.

Well, on a positive note, I think I am overcoming another rolling problem I had/have (on a sea kayak). A couple years when playing in tide races, I felt there was some mysterious force holding me down when I was practice rolling in an eddy. Now I think I have ways of dealing with that, next time it happens. I realize often the thing to do is go up on the other side. But I have also found that you can often get past that force by kind rocking the kayak-maybe it’s putting in a heavy hip snap- to get you past the obstacle. Also aggressively getting your paddle out to the side where it needs to be. And relaxing as much as possible. The same technique helps when rolling in high winds. What happened to me at DP I think was I came up against that force and said “uh oh” I can’t get past that, I need to set up the roll again until I couldn’t hold my breath anymore and had to swim out.

Rolling Jackson kayaks
Strangely (NOT) Jackson kayaks in general are easier to roll with the lay back roll that Eric Jackson teaches. Check out his rolling video. You may find your kayak is incredibly easy to roll.

That video helped me tremendously. The ‘hip snap’ doesn’t work on the layback thing; at least not for me. I have to bring the boat up with my thigh.