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Rolling: Suggestion for beginners


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I want to share some wisdom imparted by Karen Knight and Bob Foote at their rolling class last Tuesday that may help some new rollers.

1. Karen and Bob began by demonstrating two rolls: c-to-c and sweep. They suggested that the sweep might be more appropriate for those who are less flexible (no they did not say "older") or those with larger boats. Participants were about evenly divided in which sweep they initially tried, and I think at least one switched during the class.

2. I had a poor c-to-c roll in the 70's (yes 1970s). I have been trying to recover it in the last couple of years. I did not have much success last year, even with a class. After Karen and Bob's introduction, the sweep roll seemed to make much more sense for me. FOR ME, the c-to-c depends so much on: a) a difficult initial position, and B) a difficult hip-flick. On the other hand, the sweep roll depends on: a) a less difficult initial position (not wrapped around the boat so much), and B) easy to visualize simultaneous moves (a lifting to one knee and a sweep parallel to the surface with my eyes on the blade to rotate the body).

3. I left the class with an 80% sweep roll - that means it works about 80% of the time when it is not important that it really works. Needs more practice of course.

4. I had forgotten how crucial it is to have a good teacher...one that selects appropriate techniques for a given client and who can diagnose problems. Karen and Bob spent 4 continuous hours in the water helping the group..no breaks...yet after each successful or unsuccessful attempt, they gave suggestions that really applied to the mechanics.

So, what was my point for sharing this? I think it is crucial that a beginner make a conscious decision between the c-to-c and sweep rolls. To me they are very different, requiring different athleticism and internalization. I also think that learning to roll from a qualified instructor can be of great value.


Al Coons

Eddyline Nighthawk


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Initial frustration trying to sweep-roll my half-filled Looksha HV (24" beam) resulted in Karen recommending that I try the C-C with Bob. My repeated unsuccessful attempts to hip-flick hard enough raised an ugly red welt on my hip from banging against the coaming. By then I'd picked up a few gallons of water again! So I bought a nice tight SD Glacier this weekend.

Getting my left arm fully wrapped for the C-C resulted only in scratching up my yak during many unsuccessful jerks, so I'm starting to think that the less violent (?) sweep roll might be easier for me to learn. Will be on the Mystic Tuesday if anyone is willing to coach me. Oh...and Bob, I prefer to start with my carboniferous Ikelos, if possible.

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Bob and Karen's class is an excellent building block for sure. I still use Jill Aaron's pictures for review and practice. One thing I would like to point out for beginners or those more "well rounded" paddlers like me, is there is NO SHAME in using an extended paddle to roll.

Like most paddlers, I struggled to learn the sweep roll. Even with instruction, it came slow. Two back surgeries and being overweight didn't help. Extending the paddle (called a Pawlatta roll)provides much more support and requires virtually no hip flick.

After becoming proficient in this roll, I was able to easily transition and adjust into a regular sweep.

At the NH skills last week, two of the clubs more proficient paddlers taught me that if I layed back just a bit more, I would relieve some of the pressure on my back during an extended paddle roll and could slow it down considerably in the process.

I highly recommend it for beginners. Give it a try and don't worry about what the "purist" say.

Great Pond, Kingston, NH..Wednesday evenings...come out and practice with us!

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