Tonight I learned to roll a kayak. Rolling seems deceptively simple but actually is fiendishly devious. The class was two hours, in a pool, and eventually I caught on. I’d learned two types of rolls – both of the “Eskimo” variety. One I’d place at 95% for me (I can do it consistently) at a disadvantage of taking a couple seconds longer. The other faster (more compact) roll, I can hit maybe 40% in pool conditions. I’ll definitely keep practicing this in my pool at home until I’m 100% from both sides with both of them.
Why would you want to “roll” a kayak? It turns out there are lots of reasons and while you can kayak without learning to roll, not “having a roll” will limit what type of kayaking you can safely do.
The most important reason is safety. Put simply when you are upside down, you either have to do a “wet exit” or roll back up. If you do a wet exit your time in the water, wet, losing heat, dramatically lengthens. Depending on water temperature, staying in too long may kill you.
Another reason might be just to cool off on a hot day.
My instructor tonight, Jennifer Kleck had a very patient and encouraging manner. She is among the best instructors in the world. We had a very pleasant couple hours, rolling, chatting, rolling, chatting. And I only wacked her on the head with the paddle once!
Tomorrow, I’ll do the regular Thursday night paddle that Aqua-Adventures hosts. She promised to tip me over so I could demonstrate my new skill for real!