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A kayak roll (often referred to as an Eskimo roll) is the act of righting a capsized kayak by use of body motion and/or a paddle. Typically this is done by lifting the torso towards the surface, flicking the hips to right the kayak halfway up and applying a righting force by means of the paddle while tucking close to the front or back deck. The roll is an essential for paddlers who attempt serious whitewater (Class IV or greater), as exiting the boat and swimming gives the paddler less maneuverability and control, and thus leaves him/her more exposed than in the boat.
Types of roll
There are many types of roll, which involve subtle variations on the common technique of combining a paddle stroke at the surface with a hip-flick. Different rolls are more or less useful in different situations. One key to all rolls is that the head comes out of the water last, following the paddler's torso—not first, which presents a non-hydrodynamic profile and tends to oppose the angular momentum which is the hallmark of a successful roll.
This is the main roll that is usually taught to beginners first and is often what is referred to as "the roll". It is good on open or flat water but requires a reasonably large area to perform well so can be less useful in tight spaces or on whitewater.
Reverse Screw roll (aka "Back Deck Roll")
As the name suggests this is similar to the screw roll but performed in reverse, it is often used in playboating or in general when the paddler goes over whilst on the back deck. In this scenario it is far quicker to perform this roll than to move the paddle into a set-up position for a more standard roll. The disadvantage of this roll is that it leaves the face exposed and poses some risk to the shoulder.
This roll is a bit of a 'party trick' but can also be useful if the paddler has lost their paddle and is also useful in the game of canoe polo. It relies heavily on the hip-flick. It is also frequently used by paddlers who run big waterfalls, as landing at high speed without a paddle is considered to pose less risk than landing with a paddle.
- Sprinkle, Tim. "Know your Rolls: Understanding and Applying Different Kayak Rolling Techniques". paddling.net. paddling.net Inc. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "Types of Roll". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- Ken Whiting, " The Back Deck Roll, paddling.net, Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Dagger.com, How to properly throw your paddle off a waterfall, Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Hutchinson, Derek (1999). Derek Hutchinson's guide to Eskimo rolling (3rd ed.). Old Saybrook, Conn: Globe Pequot. ISBN 0-7627-0451-9.