Kayak Rolling Instructions

Kayak Rolling Instructions
The kayak roll is an essential skill for serious whitewater and sea kayakers. Being able to roll your kayak after a capsize means you do not have to pump out a cockpit full of water or re-enter the kayak from the water. More importantly, it means you never get out of the kayak. This is a big safety issue. The kayak will protect you from collisions with rocks and other objects. Being in the kayak also protects you from hypothermia.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Kayak
  • PFD, Personal Flotation Device
  • Kayak paddle
Step 1
Holding your paddle as you normally would, rotate your upper body to place the paddle on the left side of the kayak. Be sure the power face of the right blade is to the water and not the sky.
Step 2
Lean forward, keeping your head down, with the paddle as far forward and as low as possible.
Step 3
Hold yourself in the kayak by pressing your knees against the underside of the deck and your heels against the bottom.
Step 4
Press your nose toward the deck. Hands should be above the surface of the water. Remember you will be upside down.
Step 5
Splash the paddle on the water surface to make sure it is in the right position and angle.
Step 6
Sweep the paddle from bow to stern in a wide arc by rotating your upper body. Make sure you keep the paddle blade at the correct angle.
Step 7
Perform a hip snap by rotating your waist to the right while applying pressure with the right knee to the deck. You must keep your left leg relaxed or it will be working against the right, preventing the roll. Also, it is very important that you not lift your head out of the water. This is counter intuitive and difficult to do. Most people fail in their attempts to roll a kayak because they lift their head above the water.
Step 8
Lean toward the rear deck while continuing the sweep. Allow your head to be pulled up by the motion of the roll, do not lift it up.
Step 9
Slide the kayak under your upper body by pushing down on the paddle blade. Do not leave out this last step, it will stabilize you.

Tips & Warnings

Practice the kayak roll often.
When practicing, assume the starting position before you capsize. This will give you the time to check for proper position of yourself and the paddle.

Article Written By Mark Quest

Mark Quest began his writing career in 2009, contributing to various online publications. He attended Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College, focusing on the sciences.

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