Archive for April, 2009

Rolling While in Motion

Question: I practiced rolling for about 45 minutes today. I did okay rolling from a standstill, but at the end of my practice I tried paddling fast then falling over and I got all messed up trying to get in position and ended up wet exiting. Any advice about how to roll when on the move?

Answer: The main thing to remember when you capsize while moving is to tuck. Tuck forward and hang out for a few seconds. Hold your combing so that you can orient your position and try spelling something before you even attempt to set-up. My friend once told me that he spells “R-E-L-A-X,” before he attempts to roll up. I spell “P-A-N-I-C,” because it has the same amount of letters but it’s funnier. Remember that often taking your time with the set-up will actually get you on the surface and breathing sooner, because your chances of success on the first try are much higher if you really pay attention to what you’re doing. Make sure you curl up to the surface into your set-up position, and check all the variables before starting the roll. Chances are that you’ll be stationary (it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep moving underwater with the weight of your body hanging under your kayak). Good luck.

Front to Front Norsaq Roll

Question: My forward/forward norsaq roll only works the following way. First, I must open eyes and watch the outward sweep until the point of the “back down and under to touch the hull” part. Secondly, I can’t seem to leave the left hand touching the Qajaq. Only when I touch the back of the sweeping hand with the one that’s supposed to be left touching the gunnel, does it work. Thoughts?

Answer: I think that what I’m hearing is that you’re kind of doing a two handed norsaq roll, right? If that’s the only way this roll is working for you, then you’re using too much “arm” and not enough “body.” When I do this roll I find that the power comes from my abs. From your description, it sounds like you’re recovering on the right side of your qajaq, so I’ll describe it with that recovery:
– Extend directly out to the right side of your qajaq as far as you can.
– Reach up with not only your norsaq, but the top of your head as well. Try to get both out of the water. This should put a nice arch in your back.
– Meanwhile your left hand should be doing nothing. I hold the bottom of my qajaq. It’ll slide a bit during your extension, but just try to keep loose contact with the qajaq.
– When you think that your body is in the right position, focus all of your energy on the crunch. Basically, picture every internal organ squeezing into a spot a couple of couple of inches to the right of your belly button. Lift your knee to hit that spot, and slide your hunched upper body over the front deck. Your shoulders should stay square to the sea floor and then to the qajaq deck.
– With the norsaq, from the extended position, and while you’re doing all of the body movements described above, push it through the water to get some lift. Follow through until it hits the bottom of your qajaq. By this time, the rest of you should be up.
As with any roll, this really has way more to do with what you do with your body than what you do with whatever object you’re holding.


Progression from Butterfly Roll to Hand Roll

Question: I am doing fine on my onside standard roll, but my easiest roll is always the butterfly roll. I have been looking at some Greenland roll videos online and the hand rolls look very similar to me to the butterfly rolls. Do they feel very similar? Any advice before I try one?

Answer: A hand roll is very similar to a butterfly roll. To progress to this really fine tune your butterfly roll. Make sure that your shoulders are square to the surface before righting your kayak and that your body is out to the side as far as possible, while keeping your shoulders flat. Also, as with any roll, make sure that you’re putting as little pressure as possible on the paddle (any roll has way more to do with body mechanics than what’s in the paddler’s hand). When you feel that you are ready to move on, work on a layback norsaq roll. To start, hold the norsaq in the center, just as you would when doing a butterfly roll. It’s the exact same roll, so all the same rules apply (flat shoulders, arched back, etc.). When this is easy for you, try doing the same roll while holding the smaller end of the norsaq. The Greenlandic name for this roll is Norsamik Nerfalallugu (Throwing Stick, Front to Back). Once this feels natural to you and you’re ready to progress, remove the norsaq and do the same roll. That’s your hand roll (Assammik Nerfallallugu).


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