whitewater to touring roll

Hi, I signed up for a roll class tomorrow and they teach in a pool in a whitewater yak. I have a 17" er ’ touring kayak. If I learn to roll in the small ww one, will it translate easily into mine? Thanks.

I can’t see why not.
When I was learning to roll, I did some practice in a WW boat, and I actually found it a little harder to roll than my sea kayak, most likely due to the WW boat being a bit beamier.

Should be easier
Besides usually having a narrower beam, a 17 foot boat will not turn as easily, meaning that more energy goes into rolling the boat rather than turning it, depending on the type of roll you do. That’s been my experience, anyway. So long as you fit snug in the boat, you should have no problem at all.


EJ says…
something along the lines of:

“If your roll works in one boat and not another, it’s not the boat’s fault. It’s because your technique is bad.”

As someone who can roll my ww boats well, and my long boat less so, I agree.

The touring boat…

…might require a tweak in technique. Mine roll slower

than my WW boats, so I have to do the same things a bit


Your subsequent swimming slower?

it might feel different

– Last Updated: Jul-23-08 8:06 AM EST –

but don't let that throw you off.

A number of WW paddlers I know have very quick c-to-c rolls and commented on how they had to slow it down just a bit in a touring kayak.

The point is, its okay if it feels different. Don't let that throw you off and mess with your head.


A few posters have referenced EJ's (Eric Jackson's) Rolling DVD. If you use his rolling style/technique, especially the extreme layback part, you might find rolling a touring kayak needs a bit of tweaking.

rollin rollin rollin
Just this past weekend our group had a party and a demo/boat swap. I brought out my I:3, my BigEZ and my Tempest. The tempest is definitely the easiest of the 3 to roll, very smooth. I agree with most of what has been posted above, especially riverstrider. I learned in a pool in WW boats and was very pleased to find that long boats are easier to roll with the narrower beam and smoother rounder edges.

have fun


My sea kayak

– Last Updated: Jul-25-08 8:46 AM EST –

(Avocet RM)is easier to roll than my whitewater boat(Pyranha S8 225).

I did put in bigger thigh braces to make it easier to relax while inverted without falling out.

maybe, maybe not
If you can do it in one boat, you’ve already proven you can do it. But different boats are different boats. In my experience, some boats are easier than others. You’ll just have to adjust and learn the personality of each boat. But all of this is putting the cart ahead of the horse … :wink:

My experience: It was very strange to be in a WW boat for the first time! I actually found rolling a longer boat easier (Chatham 17). Good luck! Enjoy. Don’t stress out. I didn’t learn in my class, a disappointment. Mine came later with EJ’s DVD.

Yes, but…

…time is relative.

Sea kayak easier
Generally the radious from pivot axis is shorter, so it will spin easier and quicker. It’s easier to get good setup position with the skinny boats too.

It’s mostly fit
Generally speaking folks tend to not outfit their sea kayak cockpits as snugly as a whitewater kayak. Check this before going further. Footbraces set at a longer more comfortable distance can cause the entire system to fail by allowing the knee to disconnect from the thigh hooks, thus making the butt move away from the backband, etc, etc. As soon as the lower body scoots forward the torso leans back and it makes it very difficult to do a good tuck that will lead to a good reach and bracing back up.

depends on the boat but I will tell you that my Tempest 170–17’ long 22" wide is easier to roll that some white water boats I’ve been in

t ype of roll
Ask the instructor to teach you a screw roll, not a c-c roll. You’ll find that the screw roll is much easier to learn and, with practice, to develop roll to roll success. Many whitewater kayakers use c-c; very few sea kayakers roll c-c and those mostly have a ww background.

WW easier than touring?
While most reported here found WW boats not as easy as touring kayak. I have the opposite experience.

I can pratically roll up, on first try, just about any random WW boats I get my hands on. But I had almost zero success in rolling sea kayak the first time!

One of the biggest reason is also the most obvious. I’m of relatively small statue. Pratically all sea kayaks on the market are twice too big for me. Rolling a bathtub is way more challenging, I found out.

WW boats, on the other hand, comes in all sizes. Even small enough to fit a child. So I usually have much better choice, when renting, to find boats closely match my size. Further more, all WW boats have adjustable thigh and hip braces, which I can adjust to fit my narrow lower body. A low volume boat with good thigh and hip contact garantees success in rolling.

For a WW boater, it’s really cheezy that all touring kayaks’ only adjustable part is the footpeg!!! So we all have to cut and glue mini-cell foams to our boat. And once outfitted, it’s ONLY good for the owner’s use (mine anyway). No one else can get into it and I’m not about the cut up the mini-cell just so my guest can try my boat!!!

But I’m digressing now. So for learning to roll, it really doesn’t matter what boat you learn in. If you can roll one boat, you can transfer that technique to roll others, as long as it’s fitted properly.

agree with fit
Seems to me that regardless of the boat, rolling efficiency is optimized when the fit is optimized. You should be snug enough that the boat moves when you move, but not too snug to restrict your range of motion. When I teach rolling I always check fit and flexibility before the student gets in the water. Here’s the test - sit in the boat, bend forward, and side to side. This is essentially the rolling move, and it should be done without pain. If it’s painful or impossible, either the boat is too tight or the student has no flexibility. Then, sit up straight and use your knees to rock the boat from side to side. If you flop around too much, the fit is too loose. These tests are a pretty reliable indicator of roll success/failure. With proper fit and flexibility, rolling will be easy. Without it, you’re better off going home to work on stretching and/or boat outfitting.

lot depends on the
type of tourning boat.

What I’ve found…
I agree with much of above, but without your specifying what WW boat and what touring boat you are talking about, and how well you are fitted in each, it’s very hard to say more than the general that you should be able to roll both types of boats.

My own experience - an old school WW boat like the Dagger Piedra, or the Perception Pirouette, is ridiculously easy to roll. A slightly newer style flat-bottom job like the Inazone is pretty easy to roll, as long as it is a volume that fits me right. So a 220 or 222 is quite easy, and while I got a 232 rolled up I was literally panting from the effort after three rolls. (I kept going until I got one that I liked.)

My NDK Explorer LV, extra small cockpit and a low deck, or my husband’s Romany, are hugely more forgiving than my CD Squall was. I can screw up the finish of the roll with the NDK boats and still lurch up, but if I made mistakes in the latter half of the roll in the Squall I was upside down again. I can mess up the last half but only a small bit in my P&H Vela.

The NDK boats are less easy to roll than the Piedra but much easier than many flat/pancake WW boats. Our drop skeg Necky Elaho rolls super easily, and has been mentioned by others the Tempests a a joy. A WW playboat can be a real bear to roll depending on the model, but that’s not as true for many of the newer Jackson boats. However, I was also unable to roll up an un-outfitted Seaward Quest HV after 3 tries of sliding around in an impossibly deep cockpit with no useful thigh braces and a volume that is much more than myself. (So far that’s the only boat I’ve ever tried rolling that I just plain couldn’t.)

In sum - while a roll is a roll is a roll once you have it, when you are just getting it you may find some diff’s in how it feels based on the specifics of your fit in the boat and the boat itself. Not a reason to say nay to rolling any boat, just something that you may find you experience.

Well, I took that class last night.

My touring boat is a Necky Tesla. 17’ with a 24.5 " width.

I “learned” on a liquid hoss. 26" width, very short.

I did it 4 times, they were 4 crummy times though. When I did get myself uprigth it was really because I just manhandled the paddle and forced myself up with my arms. I couldn’t get a good hip snap. I could when I was hanging on the railing on the side of the pool, but with the paddle I couldn’t get enough leverage to snap. I definitely got better than the nothing I came with, so I feel it was productive. Just having trouble snapping those hips.

On a side note those ww boats are weird. I liked it. spun alot, but I was surprised that it was less tippy than my seayak, harder to hold on edge, I guess it had better initial stability, but worse secondary.