Rolling a Qajaq Versus a Kayak

Question: I have been pretty successful in learning rolls in my 17-foot touring kayak. I have eight rolls, and while I need to work on flexibility, I am pleased with my progress. I now have a norsaq roll! I built a 17-foot skin-on-frame, which keeps my legs much straighter than in the touring boat. I do have some lateral hip space. I am struggling to even do a Standard Greenland Roll. I feel like I have lost my hip snap in my skin-on-frame. Do you have any suggestions? P.S. Your video progression from the Butterfly to Norsaq to Hand Roll is what got me to the norsaq roll!

Answer: Rolling a skin-on-frame qajaq can feel very different than rolling a touring kayak. With a touring kayak your contact points are on your inner thighs. In being so, the leg motion that rotates the kayak is an inward one, meaning that the thigh lifts up and in, controlled by the hip. It can help to think of this movement as pressure, instead of a “snap.” With a skin-on-frame qajaq, the contact point is on the upper thighs, and the leg motion is more of an upward lift than an inward one. Once again, thinking of this as pressure (instead of a snap) often helps in understanding what needs to occur. It’s also worth checking the outfitting in your skin-on-frame qajaq. Lateral space is good, because it gives your hips the room to move for both paddling and rolling. Since the pressure point in this type of kayak is on the top of your thighs (at the masik), you shouldn’t have too much space between your thighs and the masik. That said, make sure that you can exit the kayak safely in case of a capsize. – Helen

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