Sculling success on a busy weekend

This past extended weekend was centered on the US holiday of Independence Day. The usual fireworks and festivities seem to have lost their original significance in America, to celebrate the Declaration of Independence from the British in 1776. Instead the 4th just provides an opportunity for people to party, not that partying is a bad idea. Given my nationality it seems wrong to celebrate independence but as usual we followed the US tradition and had a party of our own with a few friends and family visiting us at our lake home. We spent the weekend afloat trying to stay cool, swimming, tubing, water skiing, and paddle boarding.

It may sound like there was no kayaking going on, but that was not the case. We took a group of our friends for their first paddle. We went up the river and enjoyed the wildlife and scenery. We took advantage of our fleet of kayaks and put the guests in double kayaks, nice and stable, with rudders, so they did not have to worry about going in a straight line. I took the opportunity to get a few fitness paddles before the lake got busy, the early morning quiet was lovely as I circled the lake. Just me, the fishermen and the blue herons.

I was able to get some good rolling practice in this weekend. I continued to focus on my offside rolls, getting them to be more relaxed and less paddle dependent. I also worked on my forward recoveries, getting them more forward and less upright. This helped my forward-forward norsaq roll tremendously, it is becoming a very consistent roll. My biggest goal, this weekend, was to work on sculling rolls.


Previously I have worked on the under the hull sculling roll. My thinking had been that by having the paddle under the hull it would force me to stay low to the deck and hence make the roll easier. Rather than continue to struggle with that roll (read last week’s blog post about what to do when stuck on a roll) I chose instead to focus on the foredeck sculling roll.

Here is the description of the roll from the QajaqUSA website:
Sculling roll with paddle held horizontally on the foredeck: Masikkut aalatsineq — “sweeping the paddle at the foredeck (masik)”. Paddle is kept in contact with the foredeck. Best form is to scull completely around with the paddle horizontal. If you “reach up” with your paddle to brace for final recovery, some judges may deduct points. Four points/side.

I have watched many videos of people doing this roll, and heard many people describe the paddle motion they use. A person whose rolling I admire and whose videos I enjoy watching is Duane Strosaker.

The last roll in this video sequence is the Masikkut aalatsineq.

The key points to success that I learned this weekend were:
1. During setup, angle the paddle blade to allow the kayak to rotate easily.
2. Start with the paddle angled forward so the first scull is a strong pull, sculling the paddle backwards. (Most of us scull stronger on the pull than the push)
3. Start your sculling before the kayak stops rotating from the initial capsize, this helps maintain momentum.
4. Concentrate on maintaining downward (or more correctly “deckward”) pressure on the paddle.
5. Keep your pivot hand (for a right handed roll this is your left hand) touching the deck, you can even hook your thumb under a deck line if you want to.
6. Don’t allow yourself to fall down into an upright sitting position, maintain the tuck.
7. Don’t reach up for the sky as soon as you see it, keep sculling flat.
8. Scull in large strong sweeps (45 – 60 degrees), neither fast nor slow, but consistent speed and don’t pause at the end of the stroke, reverse direction quickly to maintain momentum.
9. Remember the finish is just another forward finishing roll, use strong knee pressure and keep your head low and forward.
10. Keep sculling, once your head is out of the water. Don’t stop until you are flat.

Now that I have this roll working consistently I will add it to the rolling section of the blog (that is my personal rule, only to write about rolls I can do well). I need some clear, clean water for a video, so that may wait a while as the Minnesota lakes have taken on their characteristic cloudy green haze.
It feels good to get another roll consistently, it has been a while. I am inspired by Duane’s video to work on another sculling roll next, or perhaps revisit the behind the back reverse sweep which I suck at!

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