Being able to roll a kayak is an absolute must for all whitewater kayakers. It is also a very good skill to know for the sea kayaking bunch out there. The first time that most people attempt to roll a kayak they put too much emphasis on sweeping the paddle. Unfortunately for these people the driving force behind rolling a kayak is the hip-snap. It is for this reason that you should understand all of the skills involved in rolling a kayak prior to attempting a roll. This skill progression will help guide you through these skills.
- Learn How to Wet-Exit:
This isn’t so much a skill as it is a necessary prerequisite. No one should attempt to roll a kayak if they haven’t first learned how to exit the kayak while upside down.
- Learn How to Tuck While Upside-Down:
Tucking to the deck of the kayak is the first thing one must do when their kayak flips over. If not, they won’t be able to properly setup for a roll attempt. It is also a matter of safety.
- Learn How to Hip-Snap:
The Hip-Snap is the main skill employed and hte driving force behind the kayak roll. A properly executed hip-snap will enable the kayaker to roll a kayak up regardless of the paddle position.
- Learn How to Buddy-Roll:
The Buddy role will help you understand what it is like to be completely upside-down in your kayak and then to roll back up. It is also a great backup technique to use in the event that you can’t roll up on your own.
- Work With a Partner:
Once you have the above skills down, you can begin trying to roll your kayak. The best way to put all of this together is to have a spotter in the water guiding you through the steps and helping you position your paddle.
- Put it All Together:
Now it’s time to try on your own. It’s a good idea when practicing rolling a kayak to have a person in a kayak near you ready to help you with a buddy-roll if you can’t roll your kayak after a few attempts.
- Don't rush things. Take each skill and learn it to perfection.
- Learn to roll a kayak from an experienced kayaker.
- Don't overdo it. It is easy to pull muscles in one's neck and shoulders when practicing these skills.
- Practice with all of your gear on as it will feel different depending on what you are wearing.
What You Need
- Spray Skirt
- Experience Kayaker