Learning to Roll a Kayak
by Derick Vaughn,
12th grade student, McKinleyville High School 2009
I wanted to learn to roll because kayak surfing looks really fun except you tip over a lot and you need to know how to roll. Besides that I wanted a challenge and even though it doesn’t look real complicated, it was.
Learning how to roll is fun but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Sometimes people can learn in about two hours but it took me two lessons of one and a half hours. Marna taught me to roll by holding me up and teaching me the elements in order (hip, shoulder, then head). She also told me the head will make or break your roll; if your head’s out of place then you will not make it out of the water. And an important part of a roll is bringing your left hand to your left shoulder (if you roll on the right side). With all this information and practice I could tell I could almost roll but I wasn’t quite there yet.
On my third lesson before work I went to practice but I was alone this time. I put a paddle float on the end of the paddle so I was forced to come to the surface. I was surprised when I did the roll right the first time. I did it about three times and thought I was good so I took off the float. But this time when I went under I never came up so easy. I had to wet exit. After swimming back to surface and getting back into the boat I put the float back on and kept practicing. Each time I let a little more air out and each roll kept getting harder but eventually I did it.
(note: Derick practices his roll every tie he gets into a kayak. When he went on his first whitewater trip in a hard-shell kayak--in winter too--he rolled right up every time he was flipped.--MP)