Start with a role or .....

I’m thinking about taking lessons at UCLA for beginning kayak. It seems they are going to take 3-4 sessions (several hundres $'s) before introducing the role (eskimo role). i’m interested in hearing your opinions on when the role should be taught. should i learn the “wet re-entry” first and then the role?

In our classes …
We now spend three sessions on wet exit, basic strokes, safety, bow rescue, and the like – all the stuff you need to get paddling without killing yourself. We follow that with three more sessions that include additional strokes, hip snap, bracing, and rolling. We also have planned a rolling clinic that assumes nothing except being able to wet exit. I tell you all this to make the point that rolling can be taught without much preliminary instruction or it can be taught as the end of several sessions. I prefer the latter but YMMV. BTW, is an Eskimo role a part in a movie about Alaska? Sorry, couldn’t resist. :slight_smile:

Roll first? Go for it!

– Last Updated: Aug-13-04 4:40 PM EST –

I read somewhere that the Intuit taught their young to roll before they taught them to paddle. Whether true or not, you do not have to learn to paddle before you learn to roll; none of the basic paddling information and techniques, i.e., equipment, forward and reverse strokes, sweep strokes are required to learn the roll. If you learn the roll first, you may be able to learn the basic and advanced strokes and edging faster because you'll be able to roll up if you capcise and you may feel more comfortable pushing yourself further and faster along the learnig curve. (Theoretically, that is!)

No brainer
>should i learn the “wet re-entry” first and then the role? <


When you roll fails, you need to wet-exit. Then what? Swim ashore?

Also, you need to learn how to do both self-rescue and T-rescue, or no one would care to paddle with you (or for that matter, rent kayak too).

I personally learn to role before learning to scull. The advantage of that order is when I fall over while pratice bracing and sculling, I simply roll back up and continue my pratice without having to go through the hassle of re-entry.

However, others have argued once you learn good bracing and sculling, learning to roll become a peice of cake. I can see the commonality in them. So I totally agree.

So as to whether to learn bracing and strokes before or after roll, that doesn’t matter quite as much.


An Eskimo roll consist of: salt water, sand, fiberglass, hand rolled in seaweed.

The "Intuit?"
Did they intuitively know how to roll? (Sorry - I couldn’t resist that one!)


i know the basic strokes, T-rescue, and wet-reentry. but it seems the the role is way down the line. i’m curious if i could learn the role along with the other fundamentals of kayaking, or is the role a culmination of other skills?

Many Say Culmination
So my instructors say:

A good high brace has the technique elements of hipsnap (vital to a roll), head comes up last (again vital to a roll) and a righting motion with the paddle that is very much like that of a C to C roll. Some people think of a roll as an advanced form of high brace.

A bow rescue also develops the hip and head motion needed for a good roll. If you can get your bow rescue to the point where all you need is to press lightly on the bow of the rescuer’s boat, it’s not going to take much effort with your paddle to complete your roll (and I can tell you from experience, you can’t roll by relying on the paddle to do it).

Developing a comfort with hanging upside down and doing a wet exit will encourage a more relaxed approach to executing a roll, which is another important factor.

But let’s start with the spelling: it’s spelled


Have fun…Lou

How often is the wet exit used?
I’ve heard that most people rarely use the wet reentry method. is this true? i agree that all beginners should know the basic strokes and wet entry and T entry, but realistically how often are these techniques used once a roll is learned?

For me it took learning how to roll before I learned braces effectively,learning to roll isn’t a culmination of learning those other things but the effort to getting an effective cowboy or paddle float self-rescue is similar to the learning curve for developing a roll.

What exactly do you mean by a “wet-re-entry”?

role or roll?
University of California at Los Angeles.

i’m a bad speller
roll. yes UCLA: univ cal los angeles

wet re-entry
i guess it’s called a self rescue? when you use your paddle with a paddle float.

I’m not an instructor

– Last Updated: Aug-14-04 9:04 PM EST –

But I think you would do well to have good re-entry skills before going on to the roll. Mostly this is because if you learn a roll first you probably won't spend much time practicing re-entys and you will need them.

I paddle Greenland style so the following is based on that...

I recently taught a friend of mine to roll in about a 20min and after two hours of rolling he had no wet exits. This was his second time in a kayak.

The first time out, before we paddled from the beach we practiced wet exits and re-entrys. We then headed out and took in some scenery for a while and then practiced strokes. He capsized doing a bow rudder at speed (a half mile off shore. The paddle hit him squarely in the head - a danger to keep in mind, but I thought it was hilarious). I don't think he would've even tried the stroke if he hadn't been comfortable with entrys.

Next time out he wanted to roll. I stood at the bow and coached him into a good back-sculling brace position. Holding the bow I could keep him upright and keep coaching his technique until I was able to just let go. From this position you just sit up lifting with your inboard knee and it requires very little support from the paddle. To roll (The Greenland Standard Roll) you merely connect the capsize, back-sculling brace to the sit up position, then after some practice it will be one fluid motion. This back-sculling brace position is a root to many Greenland style rolls. It's also good for stretching and cooling off.

IN greenland: no drysuit! swim=death

– Last Updated: Aug-14-04 10:25 PM EST –

So you better learn to roll first. The water is always very very cold up there. Coming out of you boat was considered tantamount to suicide. Think these guys had goretex? Also it is much easier to roll with a Greenland paddle and a tuliq, (a garment that goes from coaming to top of head and deals the paddler-boat interface) and it is much easier to roll a narrow boat.

Class syllabuses are constructed for the average paddler. Only about 5% of those who call themselves sea kayakers never learn to roll.

I used guides a lot to paddle places with current in my first summer season of paddling. I dressed for immersion and picked the guides with care. Several people who read this board have helped me with an assisted rescue or three. (I would always take an assisted rescue, if available, unless the purpose of the trip includes self rescue practice. It's faster to a dry cockpit for almost everybody and certainly is for me) Capsizing to me was never a big deal. I really wanted to push hard on the learning curve.

Even though my roll is coming along and about a 100% in flat water, I get thrashed in surf occasionally and still could use a hand to get into the boat. There is something about moving along at over 10 mph, upside down near the bottom, that disconcerts me a mite. I know it should not but it still gets to me sometimes.

I would teach a wet exit and paddlefloat reentry very early in the process.

I would paddle some moderately interesting places with my peers, even if none of us could roll, but I also know that a reliable roll makes it less likely for bad things to happen. (Like getting hit by the ferry while doing an assisted rescue in a channel). So learn your basics in these classes, practice them on your own, (the lessons gain 98% of their value from your later practice). Check in with some better paddlers and find someone with some teaching experience to help you with your roll later.

Find a local paddling club, treat those more experienced paddlers who will bring you along with the respect and attention that they deserve. You might study under a martial arts master for years without ever using your skills to defend your life. If you paddle in interesting places your skills and those of your companions, (if there are any), are truly vital. The intent and instruction of a martial arts teacher and a paddling instructor should both be given respect and attention.


– Last Updated: Aug-14-04 3:21 PM EST –

>but realistically how often are these techniques used once a roll is learned?<

"once a roll is LEARNED"?

That's a misunderstanding. Unlike the riding of a bicycle, once learned, never forget, rolls needs to be perfected, and practiced frenquently. Because when you need your roll, you have one or two chance to either make it, or you're wet-exiting!!!

I think that also answers your question about how often those "other techniques" are used.

And depends on sea conditions, you may need to have more than one kind of roll to handle the different conditions.

Theoretically you should never have to roll because you have this bomber brace and never capsize. But the truth is you will eventually miss a brace. So you just roll up because you have this bomber roll and never fail to make it back up. But the truth is people miss rolls all the time. But then your paddling buddies are all close and can get to you in seconds to give you a bow rescue. Not! Now you are out of your boat in the cold water and have choices. You can put on your paddle float and do a re-enter and roll, do a paddle float re-entry, or have one of you buddies rescue you. But you should be able to perform all of them if you paddle in rough conditions.