Top 10 rolls of 2012

layback copyEveryday receives a considerable number of visitors seeking information on how to perform the numerous Greenland style kayak rolls. The past couple of years have seen a tremendous growth in the interest in Greenland style rolling. Several new videos have been produced, and traditional paddling symposiums continue to grow in popularity. By analyzing the web traffic for the past year I have been able to compile the top 10 most popular Greenland style rolls of 2012.

10. Armpit Roll
Starting us off at #10 with 5% of all interest we have the Armpit Roll, sometimes called the shotgun roll due to the similar position the paddle is held. To the Greenlanders it is known as Paatip Kallua Tuermillugu Illuinnarmik, which translates as using only one arm, with the paddle touching the shoulder. This roll is an excellent way of decreasing ones dependency on the paddle due to the reduction in leverage the paddle provides. I often use this roll to help people prepare for learning the norsaq roll as it takes their paddle arm in a very similar motion.

9. Continuous Storm Roll
Coming in at #9 is a competition speed roll. This roll has been popularized by Helen Wilson, who introduced it as a training aid for people learning forward finishing rolls in her popular DVD Simplifying the Roll. I successfully used this in our local club competition to win the speed-rolling event. Unlike many rolls this one ends in the starting position, allowing for basically zero set up time between rolls and allowing for tremendous speed when desired.

8. Hand Roll
It is not surprising that the hand roll received so much interest, as for many people this is their end goal for rolling. But it is really only the beginning. Once freed from the need to have a paddle to roll many people continue to develop their skills and eventually can complete the majority of the rolls without a paddle. Hand rolling is perhaps the closest we can get to aquatic yoga in our kayaks. The sole reliance on the body teaches one excellent body mechanics and allows one to decrease the force applied to the paddle. This can dramatically decrease the probability of damage to ligaments and joints.

7. Reverse Sweep Roll
Number seven is unquestionably my favorite roll. Whether performed with a paddle, a norsaq or just my hand this roll has always been a favorite. It takes your body through an amazing series of arcs and provides you a great stretch and ab work out. Turner Wilson demonstrated in his latest DVD how good this roll is if you are faced with a large breaking wave that you choose to roll under. You start pushed back (by the water?) and then finish in a strong position to continue forward paddling.

6. Chest Sculling
Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson have popularized this technique in their 2012 DVD This is the Roll. Learning to recover from the chest scull is an integral part of their excellent teaching technique for forward finishing rolls. They also use it to teach the correct paddle position for the Reverse Sweep roll. I personally like the chest scull in clean tropical water when I can use it to watch the fish and examine the coral reefs.

5. Butterfly Roll
It is unclear if this roll has any origins within the Inuit paddling community or if it has simply evolved into a popular roll amongst those of us that teach rolling. The butterfly roll is often taught as the first roll. Its simple setup forces the roller’s body into an ideal position for the floating phase of the roll and many people with limited flexibility or strength find that this helps them be successful in finishing a lay back roll. Personally I like the roll as it teaches me to roll up with the paddle in any position and saves me from the need to delay my roll while I move the paddle into a classic setup position for the standard or storm rolls.

4. Side Sculling
Side sculling is called Innaqatsineq which translated into English means lying on the back. Many people don’t actually lie on their back when performing this brace, as the power of the paddle allows for poor posture. However, this scull is a great training aid to practice body position, especially getting your shoulders flat on the water. Side sculling is also a great way to deal with a failed layback roll, rather than rolling back underwater. Simply learn to scull for support, then once you are composed, recover onto the back deck using a final scull towards the stern. Side sculling is an integral part of the technique I use for teaching layback rolls, as it helps people learn to complete the last part of the roll, the back deck recovery. Learning to get the kayak as flat as possible before trying to get their torso onto the back deck can dramatically improve the reliability of many people’s rolls.

3. Static Brace
As a teacher I half wish this brace didn’t exist as it is a source of great frustration for many. The static brace, sometimes called the balance brace, allows you to lie motionless in the water and breathe. That is if you are flexible and buoyant enough. Many paddlers have the static brace on their wish list but their physiology prevents them from achieving it. However, once you have learned to perform it with a paddle you can work towards a paddles-less static brace and eventually learn to hand roll into the position. It is a tremendous boost to one’s confidence to realize that even if you lost your paddle you can roll up and float while waiting for a rescue, grab your spare paddle, or simply roll up of course. I have written several articles on ways to work on the static brace as its popularity only continues to grow.

2. Storm Roll
Fast, powerful and very practical, the storm roll comes in at number two. Whether performed as a sweep or as a pry the storm roll provides an excellent technique for remaining in that powerful forward paddling position ready to face whatever knocked you down in the first place. Often people learn this as their first forward finishing roll using the continuous storm roll with a float as a stepping stone. I prefer to teach the reverse sweep roll first.

1. Standard Greenland Roll
The king of all Greenland Rolls, the Standard Greenland Roll is, not surprisingly, the most popular roll of 2012. An elegant and practical roll that epitomizes the style of rolling developed by the Inuit, the Standard Greenland Roll is still the most sort-after roll by students globally. 21% of all web traffic was directed towards learning about this roll. The growing popularity of Greenland style rolling, and the global spread of traditional paddling symposiums ensures that this interest will continue to grow.

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