How To Perform An Eskimo Roll

Learn how to perform an eskimo roll with this succinct guide.

An Eskimo roll is an essential technique to learn for anyone using a kayak. However, be warned; it is not the easiest manoeuvre to master, so expect plenty of practise hours in the pool. Once you have got the hang of it though, it is invaluable in righting a capsized kayak in river rapids. There are many different types of rolls that can perform this function. The important thing though, is that they all use the same basic mechanics.

Initially, you must be set up correctly to perform the Eskimo roll effectively. Align the paddle alongside the kayak with the front blade horizontal, just above the water. We will assume that the boat will tip over to the left. So, the front blade will be gripped by the right hand and the back by the left.

When the boat capsizes you will be a little disorientated. The key is not to panic. Lift the blade gripped by your left hand in towards your chest to aid balance. With the other blade sweep up and away from the kayak in an arc. This begins to return the boat to its original position. The left hand blade will automatically come out of the water, above the hull of the kayak.

Next you need to perform a hip snap. This is where your upper half needs to work separately from your legs. Quickly twist your torso up and out of the water. Lift you knee up on the side opposite to the right hand paddle for support. Try to leave your head in the water until the last possible moment; if it emerges too early gravity may force you underwater again.

The longer you leave your torso and head supported by the water, the more stable your position will be in the final stage of recovery, where your body and the kayak will have rotated a full 180 degrees.

The first few times you try to master the Eskimo roll you may well fail. You must persevere though, and eventually the practise will pay off. Subsequently, you will be able to take on those white waters with a much higher confidence level. Good luck!

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