Learning the Greenland-style Storm Roll Part 2: The Kayak Roll

Continuous Storm Roll

This is part two of Learning the Greenland-style Storm Roll. Before reading this start with part one of Learning the Greenland-style Roll.

The Storm Roll

Now let’s bring all of the pieces of the puzzle together. This time we’re going to capsize and bring the paddle around under the boat with us. The set up is just like a standard layback roll. And right up until you start moving the paddle to initiate coming out of the water the position is exactly the same.

So for the first style of the roll we’re going to capsize, set up into the position we were just in doing the last few progressions. Getting the extended end of the paddle as close to the surface as possible makes the roll easier. The same goes for your body. The closer your body is to the surface the easier the roll is because you don’t need to use as much energy to move your body through the water. Now roll up just as you did during the learning progressions.

At this point, if you’ve been working on keeping good technique with the progression and making it feel smooth and easy, the end storm roll that I just described in the progressions is a good logical step. The roll as it stands now is only one version of the final storm roll. This one is mainly one large brace.

Storm roll

Click to see larger picture.

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Storm Roll Variations

The other variation is more of a sweep and to me it feels much smoother, more efficient and more authentic than the brace version. The body motion of the roll is nearly identical to the brace style. What is different is what your paddle is doing. Instead of putting your paddle perpendicular to the boat and doing one brace so you come up out of the water in a low brace you slide the boat end of the paddle along the underside of the boat as you start to come up and use a sweeping low brace to come out of the water.

To do the sweep version of the roll set up into the standard position and capsize. Now the trick is to roll your wrists over the underside of the boat so that your palms are facing downward and so that the back-face of the paddle is facing down toward the water. The paddle sweeps through the water away from the boat and the boat-side hand stays in contact with the boat, all the time with palms facing down. The body motion is the same. Remember the 3 Bs of the roll and the motion we’ve worked on earlier. Remember to start with your shoulders facing up toward the surface and as you end your roll your shoulders need to be facing downward toward the water.

Other Rolls

The storm roll is the stepping off point for many other rolls. One on the rolling list that is very similar to storm roll is the cross-arm roll. This roll was used by the seal hunters to teach you how to roll if your hands got tangled in rope. A variation of this is the single hand storm roll. Just like the cross arm just with one hand on the paddle. With a good solid storm roll these are just slight elaborations and shouldn’t take too long to learn. And just like just about every roll out there all of these rolls can be done with the Greenland stick or a euro blade. And as a jumping off point again the storm roll is good development for learning other forward ending rolls like forward ending norsaq and hand rolls. Remember that you can make these rolls whatever you want them to be. If you find something doesn’t work for you as well as something else then do what works. Qajaqing is whatever you want it to be.

Cross Arm Roll

Click to see larger picture.


Hopefully I’ve helped you a bit here instead of confusing you. Learning any roll can be a challenging experience. Some people can pick up rolls one after another and some take long sessions and practice. Whatever your learning style there is only one way to get better. Practice, practice, practice. You may think that you’ll never need to storm roll and that your basic layback roll will work anywhere but remember, luck favors the prepared. Having extra rolls in your skill set is like having air-bags in cars. You hope never to have to use them but you sure do like the fact that you have them if you need them. So here’s all the best. Good rolling.

Tim Gallaway on a Lake Superior beachThis is a guest post from ACA L4, Coastal Kayaking Instructor and Greenland kayaking expert Tim Gallaway. Read his other contributions. Check out his website Kayaking to the Sea.