Sunday, 19 January 2014

Forward finish Friday

This week everyone returned to try out forward finish rolls. We don't have a lot of time so our sessions are really an introduction to the fundamentals, with hopefully enough drills to take away and practice. It was invaluable to be able to look at Cheri's and Turner's DVD 'This is The Roll'  - which explains how to use a Euro blade to build up the reverse sweep and the storm roll - before getting kayaks into the pool. I don't have enough Greenland paddles to share out or loan to folk who want to try them and most folk want to try to use their Euro blade, at least to begin with. However, it does seem that sometimes it can be easier to learn something new and different about rolling with an unfamilar paddle in your hands - its as if having your Euro paddle makes it hard to undo a learned response and muscle memory when it comes to being upside down.

Cheri and Turner demonstrate and explain forward finish on land at Loch Eck.

After last week's session we were able to revisit the basics of body position and have a go at recovering with the avataq or paddle float on to the front deck and had a go at a pry using a Euro blade, then a continuous storm roll was the drill everyone wanted to try. With just enough time to get orientated underwater we never got round to the full storm roll.
Doing something different is good fun though.

The outcome of these two sessions has been very positive. The Euro roll and the Greenland roll have been compared and discussed a lot.  It  was observed that Greenland style rolling is more to do with taking your time underwater, being well-orientated and using the support of the water in contrast to getting round, out and up asap, though a storm roll can be surprisingly quick and effective.

I hope everything we have done continues to help folk have fun playing with rolling whatever blade we end up using, and wherever we end up using it. We were using big blades in flat water so here is the very opposite for a bit of inspiration - James Manke tackling whitewater with a GP on his trip down the Grand Canyon.

James Manke... Grand Canyon... Sea Kayak... Greenland Paddle... Worked! from Kayaka on Vimeo.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


Mentoring experienced paddlers and coaches is a great opportunity to share some of the skills and drills that help us, and the paddlers we coach, understand how important body position is in any type of roll, Euro or Greenland. I realise that everytime I do this I understand better the differences between the two types of roll. This time I've thought a lot about how paddle design, how and where it is gripped, where the blade travels, feather and so on can influence body position.

From the outset the avataq has been invaluable. It has really allowed folk to good feel for how body position and edging the kayak relate as you open out  from 'cat' to 'cow' in the standard Greenland roll.

With some more pool time, the avataq would be great for playing around with this movement without a paddle, gradually working towards using body movement alone for recovery. 
An avataq is not a piece of equipment that you really need, it can 'sort of' be substituted for with a paddle float or inflated wine bags in a net bag, but it is nice to be able to use and share an understanding of another authentic piece of equipment.