Kayak Roll In December


Sunday while there was a blizzard going on I was on my way to do some kayaking, with the kayak on the roof of my truck. People must have thought I was crazy. I was going to a 4 hour intensive training session with Expanding Horizons in a nice warm pool at Brighton Michigan High school. There were only two people in the class today, good for a lot of personal training. Normally there 4 to 6 people in the class, but I guess a snowy December day is not when most people think about kayaking.

I just got some new tires on my truck Saturday, two tires had slow leaks, not fun filling up tires all the time in the cold, and 2 weeks ago I almost went off the freeway during a sudden down pour where my breaks did not even work, the truck was hydroplaning due to the low treads on the truck. So today I really enjoyed the new tread in the snow, not needing four wheel drive, they are even better than my last set of tires for traction in the snow.

Back to the pool. As you may know I do not claim to be a kayak expert, only that I can help someone go from zero kayaking to being pretty good at it. Today’s class was for learning how to roll. The class started out with a video for a slightly different technique than I was used to. I think this one is easier to learn. That is the advantage of going to a certified instructor that knows the latest methods. Then we moved to the pool deck for a little rolling on dry land. Moving quickly then to the water for the remainder of the session. We held onto the front of the kayak and got some practice going from the side to upright, then next was a paddle float for a roll starting upside down.

There is actually a lot of time when you’re turned over to set the roll up and try to remember everything taught so far. The biggest thing to overcome is rushing the roll and bringing your head up too fast. If you follow the technique exactly the kayak feels like it is turn itself upright almost on its own. I got it, and at least for about 5 rolls on my own. Then when I was to show off my new found skill I lost it. I was my head coming up too soon. By this time I was getting tired so with the knowledge I now had, I know I can be a rolling fool at my next pool session.

Next step is to reduce the air in the paddle float and continue the rolls. I learned that the paddle really does very little in the roll as far as pushing the kayak over. The paddle does more to set up how your body moves and having the right weight distribution. The paddle movement is called a high brace. I need to practice this more as well.

I felt very good after the class; I was told it would take longer than this to get the roll technique going. You do need to get used to being upside down and under water. Moving nice and slow works to get the kayak over without much effort. If you’re working hard at it then you are not doing it right. I was tired so I knew I did not do it right as often as I need to be.

Just practice and having someone to critique and coach you is all it takes. Find a certified instructor before you get bad habits formed. Remember to get exercise and start kayaking.

Audio Link

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