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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!!!!!!!
 

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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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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.
 

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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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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.
 

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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.
 

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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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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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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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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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Mine was the Vail play park. There was a large crowd of tourists watching us surf. When I flipped all I could think was " I am not gonna let those rich touristy bastards see me swim":)
 

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Me and my work buddies at Raft Masters were doing a 5 day Ruby/Westwater trip. At the put in we were waiting for some people to get ready. I had never been in a kayak before so I wanted to try it out. Put on all the gear and was just paddling around in an eddy. Everyone sitting around kept telling me to try and roll. They explained how it worked and what to do. Tried a couple times and swam. Then on my third or forth try I got it. So it took me about 10 minutes to learn. A couple days later a kayaker on the trip had to bail right before Westwater. So she let me borrow her paddle and kayak. Kayaked all of Westwater. No swims but plenty of combat rolls. Guess I was a natural.
 

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The first time I had a clean roll was in 07. I had been kayaking for a few years and had never learned how to roll. I was on a trip to Steamboat Springs and was excited to run some easier rivers and to gain some experience from 'real' kayakers. First night in town, down to the play park I go and have a few swims but met up with some people who helped me with rolling. The next night I was sitting in an eddy with the same people talking about rolling and one says "Do it" I was surprised by the command but down I went and without even thinking up I came. Later on the same trip I was kayaking on the Blue below Green Mt. Res. and came to the largest rapids in the stretch and over I went on the first wave. I remember thinking 'oh shit now I have to swim,' then thinking 'hell no this water is too cold for that' so I set up and hit my first roll. After I got through that one of the people I was paddling with was amazed that I was able to roll in that, he had just learned to roll a few weeks before.
 

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Hojo can't remember his first roll cause it hasn't happened! :p

I ran Steven's down probably 10 times never flipping and not having a roll. Then one day I flipped on Cardiac corner paddling with Scotty. When he didn't see me attempt to roll he asked why. I said I didn't know how. "You have no fvcking business being up here. Get your ass down to filter plant and learn to roll!"
I never had instruction but I saw others do it and had the gist. I tried about 5 times in a pond before giving up...then tried another day about 5 times...gave up. Then paddled FP and in the squirly eddy just before you cross under the road I got it first try. Went up for a second lap and thought "well isn't the offside just the opposite?" Got it first try! Thought I was a master. :lol:

Ran Steven's down again with 2 of my friends. 1 swam and the other chased the boat. I also gave chase but was quite a ways behind and essentially reading the river for the first time (not counting FP) instead of following. I went into that real sticky hole center of the river near the campground on Lower Mish. Got HAMMERED and missed my first roll after learning to roll ever!
 

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First roll

Long ago... maybe 1992.
It happenned the first time sitting in my $100 garage sale kayak with an REI "foot-ball-bat" of a paddle.
I had rafted quite a bit and could read the river well enough but the kayak was a new experience.
Arkansa river I put in at the bridge and drifted down to Ruby ramp to join our rafting party for the Brown's Canyon stretch. I did ok but swam once after getting a little sideways and catching a few bottom rocks. Not far down I managed to get pushed against a river left rock face and swam to a nice eddy just below to drain the boat. After delaying the group I knew I had to try a roll in the eddy without any guidance and I actually came up on the third try then quickly shoved back into the current. The rest of the run was incident-free and I learned quickly that if you lean back, away from the waves you get a snoot full. By leaning forward and powering through most of the waves just broke around me, but I had to lead the rafts or risk a mid-rapid pass as there was no option to just eddy-out at that stage.

I still spend more time pushing rubber, but I finally got a better paddle and my skills in a kayak have grown to include hand-rolls and even self-support trips in low water years.
I credit my quick start to the huge old kayak, which I still proudly own and get lot's of comments about.

First combat roll came on the Race course of the Rio Grand at "Big Rock", but I still managed a third place finish in the down-river race back in 2002ish.
 

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First roll was in 1991, Perception Dancer, 90% offset paddle. I was taught the "old school" extended roll - where for a right hand roll you move your right hand from the shaft to the blade as you setup for the sweep roll. A solid way to roll with plenty of leverage but slow on the setup and then slow on the finish as you're moving your hand from blade back to shaft. It took a fair amount of practice to remove the training wheels and switch to a regular sweep roll.
 

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My first combat roll was on the Adams river. It is mostly class 2 but has a big weir drop 3-3+ at the beginning. It has a tongue that is easy to follow but you must run it on river right. The group pulled into and eddy above to scout it out. I flipped over trying to pull into the eddy and to everyone's horror thought I was going to swim over the weir. Luckily I rolled...I was then dubbed the one who invented the 'eddy over'.
 

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I taught my 65 year old mother-in-law to roll in Pike Lake MN. Talk about high pressure...
 

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1996...Bottom of PineView on the Poudre. I was a raft guide at the time so ALL of my learning came after work on the same sections I just took custy's down. I had run all of bridges a few times and swam A LOT...I started working on my roll at the "ender hole" but had been unsuccessful.

I stepped up to run Pineview...went upside down at the bottom and got pushed into the big rock bottom left just as I tried to roll...scraped the back of my helmet on the rock and punched out because it freaked me out (first head bonk). I realized if I had stayed upside down for 3 more seconds I could have attempted my roll in the big pool.

Walked back up and ran it again....almost the same outcome but I waited a few seconds and POP... hit my first roll in the pool below.

I was in a borrowed wavesport fusion.
 
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