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/storage/Rolling a sea kayak with NOMAD Sea Kayaking.
24th May 2022 / Skills

Rolling; Should I Learn?

Your brand new sea kayak is on order & due for collection in a couple of weeks. You're on YouTube watching videos of pool based rolling classes & it looks easy. Just lean forward, flip over, swing your paddle out there & then this way and bosh! You're up! Easy Peasy Japanesey!

If it was that simple, everyone would do it & schools like NOMAD Sea Kayaking wouldn't charge for tailored one-2-one coaching sessions. Is the skill of rolling a sea kayak even necessary? Well .... yes and no or rather no and yes. Let me explain.

Rolling your kayak is one of a number of effective methods of self-recovery. Generally, your first line of defence is to roll & if that fails, the paddler can either do a re-entry & roll OR a back deck scramble. The latter goes by many titles but essentially, you empty your flooded cockpit by raising the boat at the bow & climbing (scramble) onto & up the back deck & into your cockpit. Simples! Not so much .... The back deck scramble can be a tricky recovery, particularly in rough seas where some balance is needed & re-entry into a small cockpit is a difficult business, particularly for us larger specimens of adulthood.

So what is our other option? Well, a re-entry & roll is the next action & this entails sliding your legs into the cockpit, take a breath & wedge your bum into the seat, brace & roll. Simples! Again, not so much .... you obviously need to know how to roll your kayak in the first instance! So learning to roll your kayak is critical then, right. Well, yes but .....

Learning to Eskimo Roll your kayak is a great skill to have & as demonstrated above, crucial if you want to extend your paddling ability. That being said, I don't recommend diving in the deep end (pun intended) straight away. Join NOMAD Sea Kayaking on our Introduction to Sea Kayaking, Level 2 course & perfect your assisted & self-recovery (back deck scramble) first. This will do two important things;

a) Build your confidence in deep water.

b) Ensure you have a reliable backup should your roll fail & you wet exit (and it will!)

Learning to Roll is a huge mental & physical challenge for most people. What most fail to realise is the importance of practice, practice & more practice! The course Learn to Eskimo Roll teaches you the methodology of a basic sweep roll, providing a reliable foundation for the student to go on & develop their roll into a 'bombproof' self-recovery by first practising in flat, shallow water, then flat, deep water &  finally in deep, moving water. This takes time & a lot of commitment & self-discipline & it isn't for everyone.

So, building those basic skills first i.e. your assisted recovery & self-recovery in the form of a back deck scramble provides a firm & reliable platform to continue developing your paddling skills. Once you have some longer trips under your belt, your basic paddle strokes are solid & your assisted recoveries are faultless in all sea conditions, THEN and only then, move on to your Learn to Eskimo Roll course.

By the time you get to your Learn to Eskimo Roll session, you’ll be comfortable in your kayak & fit enough to accomplish your first rolls with little effort. Do the basics first, build your fitness, your confidence & experience &  that'll make your investment in the Learn to Eskimo Roll course pay off, providing the foundation you'll need to perfect your roll.

And remember, Learning to Eskimo Roll takes time, commitment & tons of practice! Like the prostitute said to the customer, "no payee, no playee!"

NOMAD Sea Kayaking out!

Sea kayak guide buckling his buoyancy aid
Kurt Finch

Since surfing with the pros as a kid in Durban South Africa on my hollow 12ft barge & getting absolutely trashed, I was hooked on sea paddling. Over a period of thirty-five years I’ve surfed, white watered & sea kayaked in locations around the world. I've guided as a full-time professional for the past sixteen years and my journey continues.