Forward finish rolls and PFDs

Question: My PFD prevents me from crunching as close to the front deck as when I’m not wearing it. Will wearing it prevent me from progressing through the rolling list? It was suggested that I remove some of the foam, but I don’t want to do this.

Answer: Picture a bowling ball stuck in your forehead. Let your head hang down naturally, and picture where you’d be if you fell asleep in this position. That’s where you should be. It’s not so much a “crunch,” it’s where you hang naturally. Many things can influence this, including clothing, the kayak you’re using and flexibility. There is no set rule for how close you need to be to the deck, and if you strain to get closer than you would naturally “hang,” then your rolls will be less effective, not more so. Foam should never be removed from a PFD that you use for paddling. It’s both unsafe and against Coast Guard regulations. With good technique, any of the rolls on the rolling list can be performed wearing a standard PFD. – Helen

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