the problem with Greenland rolling

moving in and out of various paddling scenes and cultures i’m watching the rise of the Greenland rolling trend.

whatever people enjoy doing in a canoe or kayak is all good, and learning and practicing rolling skills is hard to find fault with.

what troubles me is how much time and energy these folks put into learning multiple rolling skills, and mastering none, especially when it counts. witness the acolytes around Dubside at any paddling event for instance. they’ve got every bit of kit, the lingo, multiple paddles and tools, everything but the cape. i’m shocked when i observe that many have terrible boat handling skills.

even friends of mine who have become enamoured of working on various Greenland rolls find themselves bailing when their roll is most needed- tide races for example.

i think that consistent, bombproof rolling skills are, arguably, much more important than any number of theoretical skills.

why arguably? if you wanna be a Greenland hero for it’s own sake, who am i to challenge that?

isn’t the internet a great way to make friends?

No connection
I don’t see how working on Greenland rolling has an ability to damage the getting of good handling skills, especially the bomb-proof roll. That’s 90% in the head, and a solid set of G-rolls shouldn’t have any ability to damage that. If you’ve ever gone after getting the chest scull that makes many of those rolls possible - see how easy it is then check back in.

It’s about the time anyone decides to spend on an aspect of their paddling, that’s all. One doesn’t rob the other.

I hear what you’re saying.
I’m a good example of more roll for the sake of rolling than seat time in conditions. I recently decided to ease up on working on hand rolls in and out of the pool, and focus more on rough water paddling, navigation, etc.

On the flip side, I’ve pulled my paddle from my deck while upside down some hundreds of times now and rolled up after failing those hand and norsaq rolls. The Eskimo roll is very very ingrained as a result.

Celia, I took a forward finishing roll class at SSTIKS a couple weeks ago. Very humbling.



– Last Updated: Jun-18-07 11:45 PM EST –

Amazing in ocean-cockpited Valley Anas Acuta with a Greenland twig. All combat, all the time.

Rock the Casbah, indeed.

Combat ?
Not to take anything away from" Warren" I’m sure he is a great paddler, but the tide race he is playing in is not exactly Class V action, and for the most part he stays out of the nasty spot. I do like the part where he does the squirt move. The waves are not even as tall as his kayak above the water.

I think what the poster had in mind is illustrated in TITS3 at the tide race near Oban where Freya the Magnificient (und sie ist sehr fabelhaft, nicht wahr) gets trashed while other folks with real ugly rolls that regularly play in nasty places manage to roll up.

it’s not greenland… it’s sea kayaking.

– Last Updated: Jun-19-07 12:34 AM EST –

I am a Greenland rolling junkie who has a fairly bombproof roll. I know many very good sea kayakers (ACA, BCU, whatever) that do not have combat rolls simply because they do not paddle in conditions that test them on a regular basis. Looking at the general Euro blade sea kayakers and the Greenland blade sea kayakers, I'd say that proportionately, the Greenland style guys are MUCH more likely to have a combat roll since rolling as a skill is much more likely to be practiced period.

You develop the mental discipline to have a bombproof roll only through practice which is where surf, tidal races, and whitewater come in. As for boat handling skills, that's entirely dependant on the paddler and not the paddle and it's a pretty weak generalization that you're making. With that sort of connection, every recreational lilly dipper who paddles a Walmart special rec kayak is representive of the skill of Euro paddlers.

Oh and as for Freya in TITS3, she says it herself on the video that she doesn't have much whitewater rolling experience. Yes, she's a great roller, a great paddler, and a friend of mine to boot, but it was pretty evident that she was out of her element.

great link!
very fun looking tide race, great paddler.

Gosh we gotta be careful…
That’s why people I know hate the camera…The one time you are human and blow something, it’s forever captured for the internet pro’s to muse over. The woman is a superb boater… Superb boaters ocassionally swim. We are all between swims. Quite a few experts swam that day…

I get the posters observation, but would add that rolling has in some ways become a sport of it’s own, or a fun sub-set of kayaking. Sure, total focus on one set of skills takes time away from other skill development, but hey, they are doing what they want to be doing, and in time their focus may change. I like watching these folk do all those goofy rolls…I think it’s cool! I sometimes try a few and end up doing all sorts of strange things on my way back up. Total insult I’m sure to enthusiasts. It’s all bout playin in and on the water. Relax and do what turns you on!

Canoe Pass / Deception Pass
Cool guy…

That’s a fun play spot.

I don’t see a problem with being a good roller and a bad paddler as long as you’re honest with yourself about it. I think of rolling specialists as being like the folks who do serious yoga as opposed to going for a trail run. If they’re happy who am I to object?

I think most paddlers know perfectly well that there’s a big difference between a cool flatwater roll and a reliable combat roll.

Another example might be the range of folks who practice martial arts. Many of them simply enjoy the discipline and refining the formal skills, and have no interest in street fighting or illusions that they’d be ready for one.

The "Problem…"
is that there isn’t one really. The perception of a problem relates more to the perceiver and what s/he favors and filters.

You have rec boaters, racers, ww river runners, playboaters, surf kayakers, waveskiers, surf skiers, etc, etc. Anyone of these can look at the others and say, “The ‘problem’ is that you’re missing (my) point for paddling…”


Can’t Stand…
MA’s who don’t “test” themselves on the streets…

Just kidding, LOL!


bombproof roll…
you know what that is, right? a paddler that just hasn’t been exposed to a big enough bomb.

freya blew a roll. wasn’t the first, won’t be the last and she’s still a helluva paddler. camera’s catch a moment is all and anyone, everyone coulda blown a roll there…you saw here boat getting sucked down, right?

someone’s observation about rolling around with sticks and boat handling…eh. they aren’t mutually exclusive and the point of anything in a boat is so that you can go play and paddle with some small degree of “safety” so personally i don’t think any tools should just be used/practiced in a vacuum. if all your going to do is roll around all night in a pond…you may have some issues with other aspects of kayaking as instinct, habit and practice fade away.

if you’re interested in seeing for yourself what skinny stickers can do, we’re lucky enough at the new england rough water symposium to have both cheri perry and turner wilson (both skinny stickers and pond scum and both accomplished greenland paddlers) on board for coaches. they will be paddling those really, really little boats with the really, really little paddles in surf and in the tidal race around fishers island.

while i’m sure greenland paddlers in this country regularly paddle some serious water, cheri was the first person i ever personally saw use a G stick in surf and lumpy water and it was eye opening. i too thought it was just a party trick paddle until i saw it wielded by someone who really knew what she was doing…very impressive. no skills in a vacuum, there.

after paddling around in crap, she jumped in another fella’s greenland pro (a big boat anyways and she’s a bit of a peanut) after the guy owning the boat said something like “oh you can’t do the blah, blah, blah roll in this boat, it’s too big…” and then she proceeded to do that roll and several others including a straightjacket roll…which sorta blew his “you can’t do that in this boat” theory away to “i can’t do that roll”

anyways, i am looking forward to seeing them both paddle those boats and use those sticks in lumpy water.

i like how dubside explains it:
in bryan smiths movie

he compares greenland rolling to playboating…you just go to a spot of water and play…and then get back out…not about trying to go anywhere…just about the moves you can do…

"mastering none"
golly, maybe you could differentiate people by how they pack their wet gear for the ride home.

my thoughts exactly.

No problem with Freya…
I swim often myself. I guess what I was thinking about when I read this post was attending a kayak club meeting where some folks who have got into greenland style were putting on that Greenland paddles are the only real way to kayak, all of these folks never leave the shelter of a pool or a bay. It just seemed a bit much on the pretense.

Observation on the Bombproof Roll

– Last Updated: Jun-19-07 4:57 PM EST –

Yup - the bomb proof thing is so in the head...

My husband and I just had our first serious training in WW this last weekend, took our Inazones to a course on the Deerfield in a Class 2/2+ section. We had a ball. We are sea kayakers who are doing WW to get time in waves and action without the 4 hour drive to the coast.

One of my goals with the WW is to get a roll in strong current or messy water, which has thus far eluded me not because of skill but because I get psyched out. This has been the biggest impediment to a "bomb-proof" roll.

Well, I don't know that I "have it" but I am closer, and it was absolutely all mental. In one rapid I swam - couldn't figure out how to handle the helmet bumping on rocks and arm hitting solid objects when I tried to get the paddle clear and water in sinuses because I hadn't put on nose plugs. (It was awfully shallow.) But a couple of rapids down I dropped my edge exiting a spot where I'd had the nose of the boat sitting on a rock on a pour-over. This time I had remembered to don nose plugs.

The water was faster than me and there wasn't a saving brace within physical reach. The only recovery option I could see was to drop for a roll and solve the rest of it in the current.

Anyway, it went great, it felt great, and there is nothing in my rolling skill that had changed since a run down some mild class 2 two weeks earlier where I didn't manage to stay in the boat on what should have been an easy roll. It was all head, and it is more than likely that the various approaches I've taken to rolling contributed to finally feeling comfortable enough to stay in the boat and go for it.

This is the best PNET one liner I’ve…
ever read:

“A bombproof roll, you know what that is, right? a paddler that just hasn’t been exposed to a big enough bomb.”

So true, so true.


This one liner is tied with the other…
one for best PNET one liner I’ve ever read:

"Anyone of these can look at the others and say, “The ‘problem’ is that you’re missing (my) point for paddling…”

Great stuff guys, keep it coming. I guess when you hit a nerve people take a little more ownership of the subject. “You callin’ me a poser, Jack? I can do everyone of those rolls on the list.”

It’s all good, until someone calls ya a poser for not being a real paddler, whatever that is. I’ll save my envies for those that manage to take off 3 months to do an exped in Alaska or the Amazon while I slave away at home. Just don’t call me a poser because I can do half a dozen rolls on the list.