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Old 03-22-2013   #1
ednaout's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 966
Very first roll!!!!

Hi all,

I was thinking about the very first time I ever rolled a kayak and was thinking there were probably some good, jersey shore-fist-pumpin', stories out there...

I remember being in the gym-pool, on my college campus (go shepherd
rams: ), when I got it for the first time. I had actually been kayaking quite a few times before going to that session, always leaving the river, drained, drenched and thinking, "damn. that would be so much better if I didn't always wet exit my boat...." On my second roll session I was peering around the crowded pool for an instructor, to which all were very busy with others, like me, just wanting someone to T-bow rescue them when they didn't get it....

I finally relented to the fact that I just might have to swim out of my boat if I didn't get it - else - sit in my boat, like a bump on a log, until someone was free to help me. One of the instructors must have watched my contemplative thought process before I finally decide to go for it. I cocked my wrist, reached far forward, put my ear to my shoulder and snapped my hips as hard as I could (even though I wasn't sure how that all went together - I did the best I could!) and LO AND BE-freaking-HOLD...I succeeded in my first roll!!! The shock I felt had to have been palpable - I was officially stoked about boating for the first time. When I realized I was actually up, I heard one the instructors give be a big ole WV "whoooooo hooooooooo!!!!"
That was the SHIT.

I thought there might be some cool "very first roll" stories out there.

It's snowing!!!!!!!

"You know that old trees just grow stronger and old rivers grow wilder, everyday..."
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Old 03-22-2013   #2
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,436
I can't top that one! Mine was also in the university pool at Montana State back in '97. I had never yet been on the river, but I knew I wanted to learn to roll and wanted to learn to kayak. I borrowed different friends' boats and took them to the pool.
There weren't ever any instructors, so I just picked up what I could from other boaters who were patient enough to give me 10-15 minutes of their time...I got a variety of instruction, for sure.
Took me 4 sessions, but I finally got it.

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Old 03-22-2013   #3
adgeiser's Avatar
Denver,, exhaustion
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 578
Mine was in a lake.

I had gotten my son an instructor and we did the first part of the day on a lake. After working with my son the instructor (Dale) asked if I had a roll. I stated that I had worked on it in my sea kayak but only got one super shaky one in. Never in a white water boat.
So told me to give it a shot. When I came up he said that he barely touched me. And told me to put my thumbs on the bottom of the boat before rolling.
While I didn't believe that he barely touched me, I listened to what he said and gave it another go.
I rolled up so hard ( and I expectantly I might add) that I went completely over the other side. I so upside down I set up and threw another roll sticking that one. As a sat there up right noting that I was a good 12 feet from Dale there was no denying that he didn't touch me that time.
I felt awesome and when we hit the river later that day every deep pocket, eddy or even a couple areas that wound up being to shallow I was rolling.

Someone has to have a sweet in the nasty story though.
"We should restore the practice of dueling. It might improve manners around here" -Edward Abbey
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Old 03-22-2013   #4
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 75
First roll

So... There I was. Senior year at Fort Lewis College (1984). I'd been boating for just over 10 years in the fiberglass boats my Dad had built for my brother and I, but I'd never learned to roll. I signed up for the Kayaking class that was taught by Dolf Kuss. After getting some great coaching about form, the importance of the hip snap, and doing lots of extended paddle rolls for several days worth of classes, he says that today is the day we roll. Umm. Yeah... Right. Then he points to me and says, "Go ahead Greg, show us how to do it" (or something to that effect). I think I had some less than witty remark and set up for a right side roll. After some hesitation and more less than witty remarks, I set up again. It was go time. Over I went. Ok. Four steps. Tuck. Hands to the sky. Sweep. Hip snap. Presto! Up I came. Up I stayed. After the first one, there was a fever among my other classmates to get their first rolls. As was written for Sgt. Pepper's, "A splendid time was guaranteed for all".

The first combat roll came a couple of months later in West Virginia, but that's another story.
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Old 03-22-2013   #5
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 524
My first roll was in an eddy with a bunch of really supportive fellow guides. It wasn't until years later that I truly appreciated what a good group of mentors I had that season.

A more fun story was my first "combat" roll - if you can count an eddy line as really being combat... The guy who was teaching me to kayak was this tall South African with a big booming voice and strong accent - and a stutter. He once said to me "D-d-d-dave, I w-w-went to a st-st-st-stutter's c-c-convention. These p-p-p-people, they ca-ca-ca-can't t-t-t-talk!" So anyway, I get through the rapid no problem then get tossed trying to eddy out. I'm carping away, stuck on the eddy fence, starting to get more and more panicked and FINALLY somehow manage to get all the way up and not get tossed right back over by the current, and there he is almost unintentionally stern squirting on the same eddy line because he's laughing so hard at my display. Then he told me he had seen me in the lake enough to know I was going to get it, which got me the confidence to slow down enough to actually be able to nail a real combat roll later that run. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2013   #6
hojo's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,234
I don't remember my first roll as much as my first combat roll. My first rolls were almost always assisted or multiple attempts with mad bracing so my first clean roll is lost in those memories. My first combat roll is etched. It was crossing an eddy line and boom, under water. I had just practiced a bunch of failed t-rescue resultant rolls before that in calm water. It was a miracle (and probably a lot to do with getting spun on the eddy line just so) I managed a roll! I took my time setting up and I rolled up to 2 other boats paddling towards me discussing who would grab my paddle and who would grab the boat. I was like, "no biggie." Couldn't hit a combat roll for another month and continued to struggle with my pool roll. I also remember my first foote roll (C1/OC1) in a lake and thought it was far and away easier than a CtoC. Not so easy in an OC1 stuck in a hole, and I have yet to make one of those in combat mode.
On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 03-22-2013   #7
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4
My first roll was two weeks ago. I remember it like it was... two weeks ago.

I'd had several pool sessions prior, and was feeling hopeful but not particularly expectant that this would be the day. The hip snap wasn't feeling strong, and it certainly had never been strong enough to do the trick. I didn't get what my paddle was supposed to be up to. I have EJ's roll instruction CD, but i hadn't gotten organized enough to watch any more than the first chapter on bracing.

Just in the pool as a preliminary exercise, i decided to practice my brace like EJ shows in the first chapter. A friend offered to be close at hand to T-rescue but i declined, saying that i'd just refitted my boat to be tighter and wanted the wet-exit practice anyway. Four braces in I flipped, and hell, since i was there i might as well try. Paddle already in place to provide the brace, i twisted a bit and found myself upright, completely shocked, and emitting a terrifyingly high-pitched gleeful squeeeeeal.

That first roll delivered pure elation. I'm sure the combat comes with even more. I can't wait!
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Old 03-22-2013   #8
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 163
In a pool in 1983 or around then when I was about 12, old skool pawlata styley with the 90 degree feathered blades.
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Old 03-23-2013   #9
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 383
My first ww kayak runs were in Valdez, AK with no roll and a few different boats I could barely get my long legs crammed into. I actually paddled a playboat sitting indian style at one point, dumb. Needless to say I had a few very cold swims and some great people cheering me on. By the time I got home to AZ I was sold on kayaking but had to save for months to buy a boat. I met a guy at the bar I worked at that ended up selling me a T4 Transformer on a payment plan. I had been visualizing what I thought might be roll technique for many months. He took me down to a flooding Dry Beaver Creek and after dinking around in the eddy for a while I tipped my self over and gave it a shot. All that dreaming paid off and I got it on the first try. That was a great feeling! I worked hard on my technique in the pool at NAU, and thanks to EJ's rolling and bracing video, I got my on & off side w/ or w/out a paddle before I spent much more time on rivers. Can't give enough credit to learning fundamentals early. Looking at eddylines and rapids like they are fun instead of scary is where it's at!
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Old 03-23-2013   #10
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 286
I dont remember my first rolls as much as my first combat roll, either. I was a new kayaker and had been kayaking for a few weeks when the first Bailey Fest happened in 2010. A friend Silvia I just had a fun day on Deckers at a juicy level and the chute rapid was thrilling. I had to run it twice it was so much fun. The second time through the chute I almost had to test my combat roll for the first time but managed to not capsize. Up until this point I had not had to pull off a real combat roll in the river. We got back to the takeout party from BF and her boyfriend Brian had a few beers by then and decided it was a good idea to do a run down Waterton. Pumped from my successful run of the Chutes I was game. We drove down to Waterton and put on. I knew very little about this section, but I could tell Silvia was extremely nervous. We get in our kayaks and push of onto the river. The water was bigger than anything I had ever seen while in a boat. The first couple rapids seemed HUGE. After each rapid Brian would be in the eddy with me just laughing and saying "just wait, it gets even bigger. It did, we reached Green Bridge rapid and I followed Brian through the entrance and get flipped in the rapid. I tried a roll attempt and failed. Without thinking to attempt another, I let go of my paddle with my left hand and went to reach for the skirt and swim. All of a sudden I am back uprigh in my boat with one hand on the paddle. I couldn't believe it, neither could Silvia. With some luck the current must have caught my paddle blade and forced me and my kayak upright. After getting my shit together in the eddy we proceeded down stream through the last two rapids. I had one more flip and hit that roll as well. Needless to say, one lap down that madness was enough for me that day. I checked the gauge that night to realize Waterton was at a healthy flow of 1000 cfs. I also learned that it is possible that you can right your kayak, even unintenially. Go for that roll!

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