Kayaking Rolls

Any kayaker who wants to be able to right their craft in the case of a capsize must possess the basic kayaking roll technique. However, a lot of individuals are mistaken about the proper and safe way to roll. Do you understand what separates a wet exit from a dry exit? Do you understand how crucial good body alignment is when trying a roll? Read on to discover more about this crucial ability and how to perform a watercraft roll successfully by using the proper technique.


Boating rolls are an essential skill for any kayaker to master.

  • Rolls help you stay upright in the water and can be used to recover from capsizing.
  • Different types of rolls exist, such as the C-to-C roll, the Sweep Roll, and the Bow Rescue Roll.
  • Practicing rolls requires patience and dedication, but is a rewarding experience.

Learning how to roll your boat will keep you safe and give you greater confidence on the water!

Do you often go out for kayaking on the waters?

Have you ever been in a situation where your watercraft tipped into the water?

Do you want to learn some steps that can help you stay safer on the water?

In this article today, we are sharing detailed steps of what you can do to make sure that your time out on the water is safe. Why you need to read this? Because in this article, we will show you how you can get your boat and yourself in a safer position, in case there is a sudden accident where your paddlecraft capsizes and you fall into the water.

Find out what watercraft rolls are, why you need to learn these and how it can make boating a safer experience for you and your loved ones. Read through the detailed step by step instructions that will make it easier for you to understand and perform them, if required.  

What are boat rolls?

A paddlecraft roll is the action that you try to make a capsized watercraft get back to its intended position using your body or a paddle.

Why do people do them?

  • People usually perform the boat roll in case of boat capsize.
  • It is done when the paddlecraft or the water craft rolls over and needs to be turned into its correct position once again.
  • You can do it to get out of the water and get back to the safety of your watercraft.
  • It also helps you to avoid any types of danger while inside the water, such as hypothermia from being in the water for too long, or the dangers from sea animals.

How important is it for a kayaker to learn how to do these rolls?

It is very important for a kayaker to learn how to do the boat rolls, as it can be crucial for the kayaker’s safety.

Could your life depend on whether or not you can effectively do a paddlecraft roll?

A watercraft roll is important for the safety of anyone who is going out on the water. However, it is especially important for those who go for serious whitewater rafting, on the class IV or higher rapids.

Are there different types of rolls that kayakers need to learn?

There are a lot of varieties to the types of boat rolls that you need to learn, based on where you paddlecraft and the level of kayaking that you do.

  • All these types of watercraft roll variations work around the technique of using a paddle stroke on the surface along with a hip flick.
  • It is always advisable and useful to learn a few different types of boat rolls, so that you can use them in different situations, as required.

Different types of paddlecraft rolls every kayaker should know

Simple, easy to follow tutorial on how to do watercraft rolls:

Option #1

Hand Roll

  • You can do this without a paddle.
  • When you’re upside down, get your body as far to the side of the boat as you can.
  • Try and keep it as close to the surface as you can.
  • This will help to maximize the impact of your hip-snap.
  • Lean over to the side with your chest and hand in a downward facing position, instead of a looking upwards position.
  • Keep your arms upwards and in front of the face.
  • To do the double pump, push down aggressively with the left hand.
  • The moment it feels like you’re losing its effectiveness, push down with the right hand.
  • Continue hip-snapping the boat upright.
  • Your head has to be down the entire time.
  • Swing your body over the back deck while ensuring your centre of gravity stays as low as possible.
  • Your head should come up in the end.

Option #2

Combat Roll

  • Swing your body outwards to the side and then again to the setup position, in a way that your head and body are as close to the surface as possible.
  • If you want, use your arm and body to create a type of protective cage/guard around you.
  • If you’re having trouble due to the current, wait a few seconds and relax, don’t panic.

Option #3

C to C Roll for Whitewater

  • For the setup position, your paddle will be along the side of the paddlecraft with your body leaning face out.
  • Tuck your head and body forward and move towards the paddle.
  • Once you have flipped upside down, push the paddle to the sky and lean out from under the watercraft.
  • Get your head and body as close to the surface as you can.
  • Keep a good grip with your legs to make it easier.
  • Keep your left forearm pressed against the side of the boat.
  • This will act as a pivot as your right hand swings the blade to a 90 degree angle from the paddlecraft.
  • Keep it as close to the surface as you can.
  • Your upper body will rotate while doing this.
  • Pull down the paddle and start the hip-snap.
  • For this, you will have to pull upwards with your right knee to roll up the watercraft.
  • Watch the right blade and ensure your head is down, till the hip-snap brings the lower edge of the cockpit into the lower side.
  • Swing your body a little backwards and to the top of the boat.
  • Keep watching your right hand at all times and keep your head low.

Option #4

Eskimo Roll

  • Grip the paddle.
  • Rotate the upper body and place your paddle on the left side of the paddlecraft.
  • Make sure that the right blade is power face up and that the edge closer to the watercraft is on a higher angle.
  • Lean ahead towards the deck while keeping your head facing downwards.
  • Make sure your right hand is almost straight.
  • Now place the paddle as forward as you can.
  • Sit tight so that your knees touch the deck and your heels are against the bottom.
  • This will stop you from falling off the boat as you do the roll.
  • Lean a bit to the front and push your nose towards the deck.
  • This will ensure that you are closer to the surface as you start the roll.
  • Push the paddle a little further and away from the paddlecraft.
  • Both your hands should be above the surface.
  • Sweep the paddle against the water in a big arc formation from bow to stern.
  • Keep your body straight, upper body and head closer to the surface and under water.
  • Do the hip-flick by twisting your waist and pushing the watercraft’s deck with the right knee.
  • Keep doing the stroke and lean to the rear deck.
  • Push down the blade and slide the boat under the upper body.
  • The blade has to be in a rising angle.
  • Recover yourself and regain your balance.   

Will paddlecraft rolls work with any and all types of watercrafts?

Yes, the good part about learning the different types of watercraft rolls is that you can use it with almost any type of boat.

Are some easier to roll than others?

Yes, some paddlecraft rolls may seem to be easier than the others, but once you start practicing and regularly practice, you will be able to do them all with ease. 

5 Essential Kayaking Rolls to Master

  1. The C-to-C roll is the most basic paddlecraft roll and is a great starting point for beginners. It involves rolling from one side of the boat to the other, using your paddle as a lever.
  2. The Sweep Roll is an advanced technique that requires you to use your paddle as a sweep stroke in order to generate momentum and help you complete the roll.
  3. The Bow Rescue Roll is used when you are upside down in the water and need to get back into your watercraft. This roll requires you to use your paddle as a lever while pushing off of the bottom of the boat.
  4. The Stern Rescue Roll is similar to the Bow Rescue Roll but it requires you to push off of the stern of your boat instead. This roll can be more difficult because it requires more coordination and balance.
  5. The Hand Roll is an advanced technique that requires you to use only your hands in order to complete the roll. This technique can be difficult but it can also be very rewarding once mastered.

ALSO: Always wear a life jacket when boating, even if you are an experienced paddler, as this will help keep you safe in case of an emergency.

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