Sculling roll, please explain

I am now able to do a contolled capsize and scull down to the water’s surface, much thanks to Pyker and Kwikle for your patience and time invested. I can maintain this position indefinately on flat water and come back up without a problem. I cannot however seem to grasp the transition from under water to the surface. If I try to roll and fail, I also fail to scull to the surface. On my on-side, where I seem to be less coordinated for some reason, if I’m sculling and stall the bladde, I cannot recover. I’m sure there’s a mental component to overcome as well, but I was hoping those more skilled could explain the body english involved in getting from submerged to the sculling position (ie: ears and shoulders submerged, body nintey degrees to the boat, back arched, boat more upright than capsized). I’m learning this on a GP, but I understand that body english is comparable with euros. Thanks in advance.


GP Sculling…

– Last Updated: Feb-20-05 7:10 PM EST –

Take and extended paddle grip, set up as you would a roll and sweep. As you come up keep the your whole back flat on the water and arch, then just scull back and forth. The arch is very important. Basically the using the buoyancy of your body/pfd/tuiliq to help come up and keep you on the surface. Keep constant pressure on the bottom knee (closest to the water on the side you came up on) and you can even drop the top leg down if that helps. The more your body is flat (arched) to the water surface and is 90 degrees to the hull, the better. The sculling strokes all occur in the front quadrant of the boat (from bow to 90 degrees and no more). To stop sculling and come back on the deck, is matter of taking the full sweep from bow to stern until the boat rolls under you (yes, this essentially the layback roll).


Now that you can back scull

– Last Updated: Feb-20-05 9:38 PM EST –

Take most of it out of the equation for rolling. The point of learning the Back Sculling Brace is to teach (well, back sculling) the roll recovery + good body postion. The recovery from the back sculling brace is the part that will transfer to your roll. I'm guessing you may be trying to capsize into a sculling position and then come up from there. Sculling up and down is more difficult than a simple sweep to roll. If your roll fails then use the sculling brace.

And remember to reach that paddle up to the surface when you're under. Don't scull you and the paddle up, let your body come up to the paddle And yes like Sing said, arch your back.

Work on the recovery from a back sculling brace. You should be able to, with good body position, to just sit up from the sculling (lift with inside knee and push on the pegs with outside) position with a minimal reliance on the paddle. Once you feel this happen easily you will be able to roll or scull without any difficulty.

Maybe timing problem?
My problem feels like it’s in getting my torso to the surface. I can get my head to the surface momentarily, but I never feel my chest or shoulders come up. I think you’ve helped me identify the snag. I need to flick and arch earlier in the sweep. Thanks.

Sculling down to the water
Keith and Randy had me basically setting up above water and controling the “landing”. They had me holding my torso inches above the water without going in unless I wanted to. Talk about empowerment! My problem is in getting into that arched back at the surface, boat pushed away posture from underneath the boat. Are you saying I should try the layback roll first every time and use the sculling brace as a backup rather than learning a sculling roll as the primary?

No not really,

– Last Updated: Feb-20-05 10:25 PM EST –

Sculling with your body above the water is different than a bracing scull. You're learning good paddle control but that doesn't always turn into good rolling skill. I'd concentrate on the body position and not so much paddle. Remember from the same back sculling brace position comes the balance brace (no sculling).

I'd practice laying right back into the water keeping your body as parallel to the surface of the water as possible (let your body sink into the water, just enough so that you can breath). Arch your back and push the boat away with your outside leg/foot and lift up (drive) the inside knee. Keep your elbows in to your sides. Keep working on this until you barely need to scull the paddle. From this postion you can basically slide over the rear deck and (like Sing wrote)just sit up. Once you get good at this you won't even have to think about when you try to roll, it will just happen.

Sounds like you're doing good. Keith is an excellent roller, watch his body position when he rolls. If you go to WMCKA there are many very good paddlers to mimic.

Hopefully I'll see you at the next session, I make much more sense in person.... LOL, who am I kidding.

Hey I'll send you some pics of that canoe, I'm just about done with the frame.

I’ll probably be at the next WMCKA
session this Sat. Not that I’ll be much more help than Keith and Randy but I’m sure you’ll be sculling/rolling after another session.

I’m sure you do already but watching the Qajaq USA rolling and sculling clips over and over is good help.

Sounds like you’ve been practicing
Good for you. I wanted to come down to Lee’s session in Kazoo this weekend, but the wife is in Chicago for the week so we had domestic stuff to do. I’m hoping to be at WMCKAs next session though so hopefully I’ll see you there.


Ironically, MY wife will be in Chicago
this next weekend, so I’ll be the domestic one. I’ll be working these thoughts through my mind though, and digesting Nigel Foster’s DVD #5 & #6 quite a bit I’m sure. I love being able to pour over videos, but it just doesn’t replace doing it in person, nor having others help and watch for weaknesses. Thanks gents.

Body Position Here…

This is a pic of a balance brace. My body is almost 90 degree to the boat. I am flat on the water and my back is arched. The sensation is as Airwave stated, “pushing the boat away with the lower leg/hip.”

With a lower volume boat, from capsize, I can arch my back, push my hip, hold the GP over my head and away, and slowly come back to the surface into the balance brace. The process is slow and I have to be patient and trust that is going to happen. And, it does.

In the sculling brace, the body position is the same. The difference is that with a higher volume boat, you need an initial sweep of the paddle to fight the inertia of the boat to start rolling up to the surface. You need to keep sculling to stay on the surface. The sculling does not have to be fast. It’s actually slow and leisurely which allows for a better sense of the GP’s planing angle.

If you’re in the correct body position but find it hard to stay up, the culprit is almost always due to allowing your inboard hand to rise up too much above your body. The inboard hand should stay firmly in front and close to (on top of) your chest, while your outboard hand does much of the sweep and guiding of the blade angle. If you allow the inboard hand to rise, the sculling blade has a greater chance of diving. This than fights your effort of your body position to stay up.

Keep working it. Once you get the GP sculling and roll, there is never a physical reason to come out of your boat unless you get sucked out. It’s all mental and about really trusting your scull and roll.


Balance brace
Keep practiceing and the skills will come. Developement of new muscles memory and reflex will come with practice. Each new skill I learn comes a little bit at a time until I get it. I feel the balance brace is a great skill to work on for developeing layback rolls. The better your balance brace gets the easier it is to finish layback rolls. You’ll get it if you keep at it. It’s a wonderful journey.

You might want to check out the archives on the Qajaq USA forum and you will find a number of hints about sculling and the static brace. Something that I posted a few years ago (with an image) is

The key to sculling and the static brace is finding a balance point between your kayak and body. When you discover this, you only need minimal input from your paddle. As others have mentioned, you need to keep the kayak from simply falling over on you and pushing your body underwater. You can prevent this by arching your back (and/or pressing with your legs) to keep your kayak on as even a keel as possible.

Side sculling uses very similar mechanics to the standard Greenland roll. During both maneuvers you extend your torso away from the kayak (the kayak responds to your body movement by starting to lie on its side). It might help you to think that as your body starts to unfold, you should be looking straight up (the sun should be in your eyes).

Greg Stamer

Sculling, con’t

Another great resource is the Qajaq JPN webpage. For sculling, see

Eiichi Ito, who is heavily involved with Greenland-style kayaking in Japan, is one of the creators of “Donkey-Kong” and “Super Mario Brothers”. The animations on his webpage are very skillful and should help give you a good mental image of what you are trying to accomplish.

Greg Stamer

thanks for that link!
I loved that japanese greenland paddling site. It is nice to see that our little obsession is shared by others all around the world. I liked some of the phrasings as well. In the words of the Pretty Monkey, “The roll is happy.”

Those are words that resonate in me and should be my new slogan. The roll is happy. :slight_smile:

Titans have written here! A peanut view

– Last Updated: Feb-22-05 9:56 PM EST –

this peanut thinks that when using a euro paddle its all about long slow strokes, setting the right angle of attack (surprisingly parallel to water surface), quick transitions at the change, and a small but constant tension manifested between the rolling knee straight through to the working blade.

Paddle feel makes this possible. I was surprised to find I had a sculling roll, and have yet to try one with heavy gloves.

For GP much easier. Take the final stroke with your abs coming forward into position while getting lift off the paddle. But you have gotten much better gp advice than I could hope to give you.

The gist
Thanks all for the input, and none less than others; when you’re new to the world, everyone else is a titan.

I just want to be clear on where I fail to reach the correct posture for both the standard roll and sculling up. More than one here has said to get the boat over early and arch the back. I’ve been doing this halfway through the sweep, and my back arching I know has been lacking. Next Sing, you said to be patient and allow the torso to surface by its own bouyancy rather than blade manipulation. I know I need to work on that, and being more relaxed up-side down is a big component. Thanks again.

One other thing
You can usually trace your problems back in your set up. Reaching the paddle down to the water and tucking forward is kind of like winding up. Hold that capsize position all the way under and up to the other side where you unwind from the hips.

When I capsize in surf this is usually why my roll fails - not setting up correctly in “wipe out” circumstances (I’m 50/50 in surf - hard to practice that in a pool where I never fail).

When you find yourself upside-down and a bit confused it’s probably because you failed in your set up or you unwound/hipsnapped too soon. It should be fluid (ignoring the paddle here) like water.

Timing The "Arch"
If I am trying to lower myself into the water to scull, I sweep from the bow and let my body down into the water. By the time, the blade reaches 45/50 degrees from the side of the boat, I am starting to take an arch in preparation of lowering my whole back into the water.

If I am trying to scull from a fully capsized position, I initiate the sweep from the bow as I would a roll. Once the sweep hits around 45 degree, I make a very conscious effort to arch my back and push out my hip/leg (bottom one). In sculling, I sweep mostly in the front quadrant. I almost never sweep to 90 degrees and I certainly never go beyond 90 unless I am ready to roll up. Because I sweep in the front quadrant, the boat does this lazy 360.

When I scull for support (or totally upright) with the Euro, I am on one side. The center of the sweeping motion will be at 90 degrees to the boat. The sweeping motion is from 2-4 o’clock (if I am sweeping on my right side). There is constant pressure on the bottom knee/thigh. When I want to come up fully, I do a head dink/hip snap as one would to do a C2C roll.


I think from having watched you
I would say that part of the problem is rotating, or contorting your torso towards the surface. The other problem is getting a climbing angle on the blade with every sweep.

I will be at the wmcka pool session this saturday if you would like to work on it.


set up
I agree with the others on getting the proper set up for rolls. I found that by getting my head as close to the surface of the water for the set up and keeping my face near the surface of the water during the roll helped out. Also keeping the inboard elbow in close to your body can help. It looks like your on the right track by going to a pool with some experienced rollers. Keep at it, you’ll get it.