[Home]Eskimo Roll

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Usually just referred to as "rolling", this is one of the defining skills of what makes a kayak a kayak. It is the skill of being able to right a capsized kayak without leaving the boat. The alternative is a wet exit. While being able to roll is not a required skill for safe kayaking, it is the considered the quickest and safest method of Self Rescue. The term "Eskimo Roll" is used in honor of the Eskimo peoples who first developed kayaks and the skill of rolling.

There are many different ways to perform a roll. The basic maneuver requires the paddler shift their body weight while manipulating their paddle causing the kayak to rotate until it is back under the paddler. Although there are several different schools of rolling technique they follow the same general principle.

Styles of Rolling

Normal Paddle Rolls

Extended Paddle Rolls


Hand Rolls

Paddle float rolls

Trick Rolls

General Rolling Advice and Philosophy

A "bomber roll" is not a particular tyle of roll, but rather a colloquial term for a fast, confident and/or effective roll. It is also referred to as a "combat roll" or "bomb-proof roll".

Top Tips:

  1. Never learn to roll before you learn to brace (low then high) - when things get tough you want to stay sunny side up
  2. Never learn to hand roll before you learn to paddle roll - people who do this tend to loose a lot of paddles
  3. Be calm
  4. Apply a lever (your paddle/hands), whatever the roll variant
  5. Bring you body to the surface but not out
  6. Flick your boat under your body
  7. Rolling is part Art and part Science
  8. Learn once in your imagination, once in a pool and then again on a cold, fast, rocky river
  9. On a fast, shallow river a roll starting forwards is much less painful

See also: Michael Daly's excellent [rolling cross-reference page]

/Shoulder Injury Survey

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Last edited April 12, 2006 2:02 pm by Michael Daly (diff)