Training Notes [29]

By David Winkworth

The Rock’n’Roll Weekend

At the Club’s recent Rock ‘n Roll AGM weekend at Honeymoon Bay I was elected Training Officer Person so it’s probably appropriate that I write something for each issue of the magazine on one or more aspects of sea kayaking skills and training. So if there is anything members would like to see in this column please let me know — let your fingers do the walking. Call me on (064) 941366. Also, if anyone would like to contribute to this column, please do. You are most welcome.

OK, as quite a few members know, our Jervis Bay weekend clashed with the Twenty Beaches Classic in Sydney. We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again so you can attend both gatherings. Also, we’re sorry for the members who tried to get into Honeymoon Bay on the Friday evening and couldn’t because of Navy exercises. As it was, the area was unavailable until the Saturday morning for us all and we had to spend Friday night in the Currarong area. Was it a conspiracy between the Navy and Currarong Caravan Park? The Park Rangers told me that the Navy exercises were a last minute plan and even they didn’t know about it till it happened. Earlier that week I had been speaking to the Parks and they said nothing about the exercises.

While on the subject of National Parks, I asked the rangers about campsite degradation and damage at Honeymoon Bay. They said it really is a problem but no solution has been proposed yet. However, don’t be surprised if camper numbers are restricted there in the future! Those members who attended will, I think, agree that the open air slide show on the Saturday evening of Patagonia and Torres Strait was terrific. Our thanks to Eric Croker, John Wilde, Dirk Stuber and Arunas Pilka for the slides and commentary .We hope to do something similar this year so get out there and start snapping with the Nikon! In the “too numerous to mention” category, thank you to a11 the weekend helpers and talk presenters. It was fun.

For those members who wish to improve their kayaking skills, we have a “Skills Weekend” coming up in the next few months at Honeymoon Bay. Check the calendar for details. If you have any friends who may be considering taking up sea kayaking, this weekend is a good opportunity to test out various boats.

The Roll

Well, in the space I’ve got left for this issue I thought we’d talk a little about what began as the primary focus of the Rock ‘n Roll Weekend five years ago: viz Eskimo Rolling! Now, I can’t tell you how to roll your kayak in a magazine column but we can talk about “resolve” and what I call “rolling progression.”

Firstly…resolve. I know some members are a bit reluctant to continue with Eskimo rolling practice for one reason or another.

It is just something that sea kayakers must be able to do. So, go into the bathroom, look in the mirror and tell yourself this …then hit yourself in the mouth and tell yourself there’ll be another one if you haven’t got it in the next six months! That might do it!

Rolling is timing and technique — not strength! So everyone can do it.

Practice is needed to coordinate movement that is the key … practice. The water is lovely and warm now and there are plenty of club members who can help so what are you waiting for? The Canberra Pod are getting together in a heated pool in the evenings -maybe you can arrange something where you live?

Just a couple of points about rolling that we can pursue at the next Skills Weekend:

  • Pad out your cockpit -you need a good fit for bum, hips, thighs (not kneecaps) and feet. Your boat must respond to your movements.
  • Wear a face-mask or nose clip while practicing. Ear plugs also might reduce the dizzy feeling you can sometimes get.
  • When you can roll on one side keep practicing at that in a classic “set up” position start. That way, if you ever bomb a roll in a real situation, you can revert to this start position and know that you’ll make it right side up!
  • It doesn’t matter if your fall-back roll is a Pawlata screw or whatever or what it looks like. The important thing is that it works for you every time. When you have this one working reliably you can -practice any other fancy roll and know that you can still surface with your Mr Reliable if need be. The key is to please remain seated for the entire performance.
  • As you practise your rolling, exaggerate your movements – lean extra far forward, lean well back – this will aid your roll no end. Also, in the set-up with your body leaning forward, keep that paddle hard against the side of the kayak. Reason? This is probably the position you will assume one day when rolling over in front of a biiiggg wave. If you stay tucked in you’ll be OK and the wave will pass over you BUT if you “hang the paddle out to dry” (let it move away from the boat) you’ll either have to let it go when the wave hits or get sucked out of the cockpit.

So, let’s finish this by saying that rolling re-enter and smoothest, warmest and most efficient is. All other self rescue methods and gizmos should be regarded as rolling backstops. Make the roll your primary self rescue method… just do it!

Rolling Progression? Well, what do you do when you can roll on one side? Keep Practicing!

I have a little personal rule that some members delight in keeping me up to in the middle of winter…do some rolls EVERY time you launch your boat. In winter, I usually to this just before going ashore so I can get warm quickly. Give it a try. When you can roll reliably on one side, practise stabilising upside down for a few seconds and then roll up.

When you can do that, it’s time to practise re-enter and roll. Don’t worry about trying to refit the spray skirt upside down at first -your boat will still roll OK with the skirt off. Use a paddle leash so you can concentrate on somersaulting back into the cockpit first. Just pull on the leash to find your paddle! When you can do this, try it without the leash.

Your next step may then be a roll on the other side. It feels strange at first but only for awhile. When you can do it, do 80% of your practice rolls on this side for a while. Then you could try some rolls with your eyes shut. This is effectively what it’s like in soupy surf -you wont be able to see much. By this stage you should be able to feel the angle of your paddle for the paddle sweep without having to see it.

Moving along what about a few rolls during a night paddle possibly in a lake or river’? If that’s OK, the big test is to paddle our to sea -due east at night for a few kilometres and try some there. Take someone along with you. Also, if you’re a gauntleteer, try a few quick rolls in a rock garden. Wear a helmet if there is any danger of head conking.

That’s about it for now. Would anyone like to contribute to this column on any training subject? Frank? , John? , Dirk?

Next issue we might have a look at Sea Kayak Proficiency Awards and what you need to be able to do. That could form the basis of sessions at the upcoming skills weekend. Good luck with your Rolling practice.