(This week’s blog is written by Steve King, Tsunami Ranger lieutenant)
As all sea kayakers know, a good roll and/or self rescue technique is core skill #1 for safe and fun adventure kayaking.
Last weekend I had the good fortune to be taught the versatile and body friendly Greenland style roll by a wonderful and well known instructor, and Greenland style gold medal winner for rolling, Helen Wilson. We started out with yoga stretching exercises, a good beginning to any day on the Ocean in Kayaks.
Helen spent the most of the day in a 50-degree outdoor pool teaching rolling-challenged people, like me, children and experienced rollers like Captain of the Tsunami Rangers, Jim Kakuk, who worked on hand rolls (not the sushi) and many others.
I will not wander into the debates on what rolling methods works best, but I will say that in the Greenland-style roll, as in most athletic pursuits, it is all about the core body strength and flexibility. Helen helped all the rollers from expert to novice.
As you can see from the pictures there were all sorts of boats, gear and people. The primary message from Helen was, “This roll can be done with any sort of boat, with or without paddles.” Last week Eric wrote about the beautiful Greenland style paddles, so I will not focus on those except to say I want one!
For me it was an excellent way to move forward on getting a roll down. I can self rescue in my X-15 Tsunami boat but know my surfing and rock garden antics will improve when I have a good roll in my quiver of skills. Watching 10-year-old Anders Becklund roll and then watching his dad, Tsunami Ranger Scott pop up on his roll made me think there is a rolling gene!
Helen’s other important message was, “Practice, play and have fun with it.” There is no limit to what can be learned or improved upon with this fundamental ocean kayaking skill. I cannot recommend Helen Wilson strongly enough—she is really good, loves what she is doing and has a devil’s glint of glee in her eye when she sees her students getting their rolls down. To find out more about Helen Wilson, visit her website at www.greenlandorbust.org.