06 December 2010
I used to think the same: once you know how to roll, why bother with “fancy” rolling.
Working on Greenland rolls or training rolls, will really help your rolling skills over all. I find it so amazing, I hear kayakers a lot of times say, in regards to Greenland rolls, "why would you ever need to do that roll."
The way I see it, it's not that you would ever need to do that roll but what that roll can teach you.
If all you know how to do is let’s say a few standard rolls with the paddle, you really don't know just where you’re at with your technique.
Rolling with a paddle is just about the same as reaching up and grabbing onto a fixed object. You can literally come flying up out of the water because you have so much leverage with the paddle. You can get away with bad technique time after time and not know it.
Warren puts it into words way better than I could.
Since I have been playing around with traditional paddles my technique has improved. From being able to only do power rolls I am now able to execute a couple of different rolls and I have gained a higher understanding of the handling of the kayak. Slowly I have taken away pressure from my paddle and started to use my body more for turning a kayak back up.
What’s limiting me from learning advanced rolls is being rather inflexible and poorly coordinated. But every occasion I spend time just “playing” I progress my overall skills. I view it as cross training. Rolling helps me with finessing the boat when surfing.
I have several traditional paddles. I use Aleut and Greenland paddles. I find the difference between the two subtle when used as a cruising paddle.
I think that the Aleut is easier to learn to use and appears to grab more water (it is slightly wider than my GPs). I also find that the Aleut does not require canting of the blade. On long paddles (expeditions) I find my Aleut to be easier to use when I am tired. It is however noisier than my Greenland paddles.
Initially I thought that a GP fluttered more in the water. It was Greg Schwarz that enlightened me on the need to subtly angle the blade when entering the water ('cant') to achieve minimal splash and prevent aeration behind the paddle.
Below is a quiver of Aluet and Greenland paddles. Click on image to enlarge.
1) Greenland, carbon balsa core
2) Aleut, solid WRC
3) storm size Greenland, carbon balsa core
4) norsak WRC
5) storm size Aleut, solid WRD
6) Aleut, solid WRC (back side showing)
7-8) Greenland, hollow core laminated WRC
9) Aleut, solid WRC
10) Aleut, bidirectional laminated solid
While the canting technique requires some time getting used to, it is essential for good Greenland paddling.
Where I find the GP excels is with rolling: it’s so incredibly effortless when slicing through the water in a sweep roll. Its shape offer immediate lift when sweeping and there is no need to pay attention to the precise set up usually required with a Euro paddle. The GP seems to orient itself.
As Dubside says all you need to do is: “relax and go wide”
And then there is the commercialization and advertising side.
Very little money is spent by the industry to push a product that seems to be so low-tech. Good GPs are crafted, not manufactured.
Crafting a product requires skills and time, something that usually it’s hard to commercialize on a mass scale.