Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rolling Practice  ロールの練習

Lately we’ve been spending time on the water with our partner in crime Jerremy Akiyama. Jerremy is a natural sportsman amply endowed with mind-body coordination, so it was not a great surprise to see him roll a kayak on his very first try (after only a verbal explanation of what to do), it was nevertheless the first and only time we’ve seen it done. He is an avid sport fisherman of national renown and many of our paddles together have been visits to remote rocks where he enjoys casting lures into the sea while we spearfish, snorkel, or survey the area.


The other day, we shot sequences of ourselves doing the basic sweep and roll. Jerremy has been practicing toward ten rolls in a row (he’s at five now). Consistency is most important in practical kayaking; finer points of technique can come later.

Jerremy is righting his kayak solidly using a powerful combination of sweep and draw. His quick hip action and lower back flexibility are excellent: watch his kayak flip itself in the blink of an eye just when the paddle shaft is at right angles to it. Perfect timing! At the conclusion of the stroke, Jerremy performs a draw, instinctively and correctly sweeping the paddle down and forward as his body comes out of the water. Therefore, his paddle ends up under the water surface, but not deep enough to cause any serious problems. The initial, sweep part of the stroke still needs a bit of tuning up. Jerremy keeps the paddle tracking precisely along the water’s surface, which is very commendable, but the angle of the paddle blade to the surface is a bit too big – about 45 degrees. At this angle, it is necessary to push away quite bit of water out of the paddle’s path during the long sweep. Jerremy certainly does not lack power as he stirs in an impressive amount of air bubbles, but this technicality does not affect his roll’s consistency too much. Note also how his head comes out of the water a bit too early, requiring additional power from the paddle during the draw to haul all that body mass up.

Rick executes the sweep and roll simultaneously, so his hip-twist is slow and continuous. He is extending his body and arm out, giving the paddle more potential leverage. His head is tilted back and actually leads the motion, always facing the sweeping paddle and coming out of the water last. Because Rick’s paddle blade is tilted only 10-20 degrees to the water surface, he does not need much power for the sweep; the motion is very smooth and fast, reducing the total time needed for the roll. Throughout, only surface water is stirred up and although Rick executes a subtle draw at the end of the sweep, the blade never sinks deeper than about 10cm. This leaves him in a fully stable position as he completes the roll.

Both boys can roll decently, but there’s still plenty of room for practice! 


  • Hey I dont look too bad!! I look forward to the next prac session!

    By Blogger Jerremy, at 6:17 pm  

  • I dont look too bad! I look forward to the next prac session!

    By Blogger Jerremy, at 6:19 pm  

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