How To Roll A Kayak For Beginners | Step BY Step

Kayaking is a fun sport, but in the case of flipping over all your fun flows to the water along with the kayak.

Your presence here indicates that you are in a search of an insightful answer to how to roll a kayak? If you are new to kayaking best kayak roll technique for beginners might suit you the best in the case.

It is the safest decision and essential for a kayaker to must practice other types of kayak rolls, to switch to other kayak rolling ways if you get fail to apply the one, without performing a wet exit.

Kayak flip over is normal whether you are a professional or new to kayaking. However, an active paddler can recover a flip over quickly and efficiently.

We have mentioned below the safety methods to apply when the kayak flips over. Practice the described procedures and enable yourself to tackle any extreme water condition

How To Roll A Kayak For Beginners? Step BY Step

If you are just starting, kayak flipping is normal. However, you need to gain proper guidance about rolling a kayak and getting straight on the surface again. It might prove a bit hesitant, a long and difficult process. Therefore, we are here to let you know about the step by step guide to rolling a kayak.

C to C roll is the most common and widely used kayak roll for beginners. Although, it needs a bit of exercise to become an expert in it.

Follow the below steps and prepare yourself to roll a kayak in a few minutes;

Step 1: Prepare for the rolling practice

The first and foremost step is to make yourself fully prepared for rolling. Below are the few safety measures you must need to consider while getting for your first kayak roll practice.

• Must wear water safety goggles. It will keep your eyes working when the kayak is flipped into the water.

• Must wear a spray skirt. It will keep the cockpit dried when you are in the water. Moreover, if you are practicing kayaking rolling techniques in a freezing environment, a spray skirt will keep you warm and will support you to practice more and more.

• Another safety step that can make the practice easier for you is the type of kayak. A long wide solo kayak or a tandem kayak can make the rolling difficult.

• For beginners, initially, it is advisable to choose a small, skinny and less stable kayak so that you can better learn the basics of kayak rolling. Once you get familiar with the process than rolling a big wide kayak will be no more difficult for you.

• Lastly, make sure the kayak is not overloaded with luggage. An empty kayak is perfect to begin a rolling practice with.

How To Roll A Kayak For Beginners

Step 2: Choose to practice rolling on a calm water body

The next step for beginners is to choose a calm or shallow water body to practice a C to C kayak roll. Don’t go on unparalleled water bodies to stay safe in case you failed to roll a kayak.

Moreover, it will be an even more secure step if a guiding expert or a friend is noticing when you start a rolling practice.

Step 3: Position your paddle parallel to the kayak side

The third step is to hold the paddle correctly and position the paddle parallel to the kayak side in a way that the paddle is above the surface of the water.

Make sure the paddle is on the opposite side of your commonly used hand if the left hand is your dominant hand then align the paddle on the right side of the kayak.

By doing so, your head and torso will get instinctively lean towards the paddle.

Step 4: Flip the kayak into the water

Now force your body on the paddle side to enter into the water. Maintain a strong grip over the paddle. You must have to stay calm at this step. Water goggles and a spray skirt will benefit you to stay dry and protected.

Flip the kayak into the water

Step 5: Place your paddle at the bottom of the kayak perpendicularly

You must have to flip back the kayak as soon as possible. Therefore, place the paddle perpendicularly at the bottom of the kayak, facing the water surface.

To place your arm at a pivot position, stick your arm against the kayak side. The farther the longer side of the paddle the more you will get forced to turn the kayak.

Step 6: Make your arm support downward pressure

With the help of the torso and arm, keep applying pressure on the kayak bottom to perform flip back step. Additionally, make your body as close to the water surface as can be.

Step 7: Push yourself out of the water

By pushing your torso and applying pressure on the kayak bottom with the help of a kayak, flip back the kayak again. Once the body is out of the water then lift your head in the last.

The whole process seems quite challenging. Practice is the only way to roll a kayak smoothly and quickly. After a few attempts, you would become able to roll your kayak by yourself, without any outer assistance.

Types Of Kayak Rolls

Typically, there are four most common ways to roll a kayak. What type of kayak roll is the best? Well! It depends on some specifications like the type of kayaking and a water body.

Types Of Kayak Rolls

Let’s have a clear look at each of them;

Sweep Roll

The sweep roll is also considered the best beginner’s sweep roll. Sometimes the beginners get unable to learn C to C perfectly, in such cases sweep roll is another choice for them. It is the perfect way to roll back a kayak in the sea or also easier on whitewater.

However, don’t get confused that sweep roll demands to have a large space or large water body to perform, it is would be best if you are in a flat sea although it can easily be done at small water bodies.

Since the sweep roll mainly depends on the paddler’s expertise to perform it.

How to do a sweep roll? The process is quite similar to the C to C roll but different in a single step. You need to do is to place the paddle parallel to the kayak side and flip the kayak into the water.

Again bring the paddle to the water surface and place it parallel to the kayak side. Now push your lower body to the surface in a way that the right paddle blade is making an arc, the arc will play the role of lift to assist you to push your lower body.

Lift the head out of the water once the lower body is at the surface.

Sweep roll is a bit more challenging than C to C roll since it is performed without paddle assistance.

C to C Roll

The most preferred way to roll a kayak is C to C roll. It is extremely beginner-friendly and the most supportive kayak roll. C to C kayak roll is widely used by the whitewater kayakers.

When they get encountered by the rough water waves, C to C is the only roll that comes to their mind since it is the fastest, quick and easy way kayak roll process. In the C to C roll the paddle also remains on the surface instead of getting into the deep water like the sweep roll.

Reverse Sweep Roll

Another fastest way to roll back a kayak is the reverse sweep roll or also called as back deck roll. Like C to C roll, it is also a popular method of rolling a kayak among whitewater kayakers.

C to C and sweep roll methods can also easily be used in sea or recreational kayaking, however, this one is not. Since whitewater kayaks are comparatively smaller than sea kayaks, therefore back deck roll is impossible to perform with a long deck sea kayak.

In small sturdy kayaks, paddlers are more likely to lean back, in this case, back deck roll is the safest to flip the kayak back again. Moreover, if you are a right-handed paddler, start a back deck roll from the left side and vice versa.

How to perform a reverse sweep roll or back deck roll? Well! This one is more challenging for beginners than C to C and sweeps roll. All you need to do is, move your torso back and turn your head to the right arm (if your left hand is dominant).

Place the paddle parallel to the kayak side and push yourself into the water in a way that the paddle goes straight parallel to the kayak side into the water.

When you are completely into the water keep looking to your back. At that time, change the paddle position and put it perpendicular to yourself. Now perform a hip snap, the paddles’ perpendicular position will support you to reach the water surface

Hand Roll

Have you lost control over your paddle when the kayak was flipped into the water? Or the paddle was cheap with lack of buoyancy?

The hand roll is the only choice in such cases. Rolling a kayak without a paddle seems quite interesting but hard to perform when you are new to it.

How to do a hand roll? Remember, you don’t have any paddle support, thanks to the two hands that can get you out of the water if the hand roll is performed correctly.

Again, it will be done on the opposite side of your dominant hand. Simply if you are a right-handed paddler, position your hands in a way that the palms are facing outward to the left side of the kayak and your eyes on the right hand.

Place the left elbow close to the kayak side and your head on the left shoulder. Now flip the kayak into the water.

To get back onto the surface, move your head to the right shoulder and your eyes still following the right hand. The next, step is to lift your left hand on the water surface and palm facing outward. Now perform a powerful hip snap to reach the surface.

Do Kayaks Flip Easily?

A big NO to the question. Kayaks are not built to throw the kayaker into the water unless certain capsizing condition arises. Beginners-friendly kayaks are designed to provide maximum stability to the newcomers, however, they end up flipping a kayak due to two main reasons; lack of stability and the water environment.

Without being said, kayak flipping on a sunny day in flat rivers and lakes is relatively more difficult than in rough water or windy weather. Take a closer look at both kayaking flipping over reasons to avoid flipping in the next kayaking trip.

Lack Of Stability

Kayaks lose their stability due to improper paddling by a newcomer or the storage of unnecessary items. Normally, beginners get unable to stabilize the kayak due to a lack of knowledge and they end up capsizing even though beginner-friendly kayaks are designed to provide maximum stability.

New kayakers need to gain proper paddling knowledge. Prepare a practice schedule in a small pond or pool initially to learn to stabilize or balance the kayak efficiently, it can also be done on a calm lake but make sure to stay close to the shore

Moreover, another main reason behind the lack of stability is the overloaded kayak and the weight is not evenly distributed. When there is heavier luggage on the stern and almost no weight on the bow then the kayak is more likely to flip over in the middle of the water.

It is advisable for long trip kayakers to equally distribute the luggage on the front and the back cargo nets to minimize the chances of flipping over.

Type Of Water And Water Environment

The type of water and environment is another reason for kayaking flipping over. You must need to keep in mind that both are different factors.

A professional kayaker is stabilizing the kayak perfectly on a calm flat river, but what made him flip over in the water? The reason can be the sudden entrance of wind.

Windy weather makes the flat water choppier unbalances the kayak and results in a kayak flipping.

Additionally, a whitewater kayaker is more likely to flip in the water regardless of the bright sunny weather.

All it requires is to stay prepared for every condition before getting into the water

Incompatible kayak

A kayak incompatible with your paddling type is more likely to capsize and feels unstable after a few strokes. A recreational kayak is not made for sea paddling similarly using a sea kayak over flat water is an insensible decision.

If you have decided on recreational paddling for a few hours over flat water, turn your head from the sea kayaks since of their low stability due to the long and skinny hull. You need a kayak with a relatively wider hull than sea kayaks

Likewise, wide hull kayaks don’t perform well over rough sea waves. A better look at the options that are compatible with your paddling mode.

What To Do If Your Kayak Flips?

No matter how professional you are, any extreme condition can make your kayak flip into the water. The kayak flipping can be minimized by applying safety measures, however, still a paddler needs to know how to behave when the kayak flips over?

Recovering a flipped kayak depends on two things; what type of kayak you are paddling (sit-in or sit-on-top)? And are you kayaking with a buddy? A partner can make the kayak recovery easier if you get dropped into the water.

Sit-in Kayak

A Sit-in kayak is a pretty unstable type of kayak. You are more likely to flip over if you are paddling a sit-in kayak. The recovery of sit-in kayak flipping is also a bit more difficult and demands to have perfect knowledge and practice.

You have two methods to flip back your sit-in kayak; Apply a kayak rolling technique or release the spray skirt and re-enter the kayak again, commonly pronounced as the ‘wet exit’.

The kayak rolling method; is the fastest and easiest method to flip back a kayak again. You don’t need to release a spray skirt, bail the water out and re-enter into a kayak. Indeed it proves a long and difficult process.

The simplest idea is to practice the kayak rolling ways C to C, sweep roll etc. before launching a sit-in kayak into the water. It is also extremely helpful if you are kayaking alone.

Release a spray skirt and re-enter into a kayak; is the only way to get back into the kayak if you haven’t practiced kayaking rolling. In a sit-in kayak, you must be wearing a spray skirt.

When the kayak starts flipping, don’t release a spray skirt until the kayak is completely flipped over. Now, release your spray skirt and reach the water surface.

It would be favorable if you are having a paddling buddy. Ask your friend to park his kayak alongside the bow of your flipped kayak, to make a T-shape. Now press the stern of your kayak to lift the bow onto your friend’s kayak.

Your friend will flip over the kayak for you to re-enter. This technique of flipping back is also known as T-rescue.

There is also a possibility to flip back a kayak if you are alone. Once you are at the surface, firstly grab your paddle and other essential accessories close to your reach.

Hold both near and far ends of the cockpit and pull them to yourself to flip a kayak back. Now secure your paddle in the cargo net at the stern of the kayak.

The next step is to again hold both ends of the cockpit. Bring your legs close to the surface, and push yourself out of the water by gaining lift from the legs. You have re-entered the cockpit safely. Lastly, bail out the unnecessary water from the cockpit using a bilge pump.

Sit-on-top Kayak

To flip up a sit-on-top kayak is comparatively quite easier and quicker than a sit-in kayak. Beginners mostly prefer a sit-on-top kayak due to its wider hull and enhanced stability.

Without a doubt, you are not wearing a spray skirt during sit-on paddling which indicates that a wet exit is quite normal in the flipping of a sit-on-top kayak.

It is nearly impossible to apply kayak rolling methods with an open hull kayak to avoid capsizing due to the lack of paddler contact with the boat. Sit-in kayaks provide various contact points like legs and foot straps that make the rolling easier, however, the case is not the same in sit-on-top kayaks.

With that said, a wet exit is the only way to re-enter a kayak. If you are using leg and foot straps in a sit-on-top kayak, make sure to remove the straps quickly in extreme water conditions to get out of the kayak smoothly.

The t-rescue technique can also be applied to flip up a sit-on kayak. Re-entering method is the same as in the sit-in kayaks. Grab the cockpit and flip up a kayak, bring your legs near to the surface to gain thrust to climb the kayak’s cockpit. Thanks to the wide and open that doesn’t demand to bail out the water.

Wrapping It All Up

The more you practice the more you become able to roll a kayak in case of flipping over. Take proper training from professionals and learn the steps thoroughly.

Initially, the process seems difficult and demands to invest more and more time, but in the end, the practice pays off and makes you able to turn a flipped kayak again to the right track.

The techniques are not for regular kayakers to learn, seasonal kayakers or beginners are also advised to take proper safety measures to stay on the water. We have already explained the best kayak rolling method for beginners and what to do in case of capsizing.

Practice the techniques, take your kayak and enjoy the water trip.

Hey! This is Muneeza, a researcher and writer of the website. Utilizing my vast experience and in-depth research skill, I used to dig deep to find out the information you'll love to know about your favorite watersport. In case of any queries, reach out freely!

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