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Learning to Roll

A key skill for the team is being able to roll for those times when conditions or lack of concentration demands it! Towards this aim Jack has been teaching the team at pools sessions throughout the autumn courtesy of Battersea Canoe Club.

All of the team made massive progress as they moved through learning Polata rolls, braces, storm rolls and began to develop their offside recoveries.

We started with the Polata or extended paddle roll, this gives the paddler the maximum purchase on the water while still developing the hip flick necessary to drive the boat around.

We then moved onto the storm roll, often considered more useful given that the hands do not move from the paddling position making it easier to initiate if caught unawares aka in most 'real' situations.

After this, the team began experimenting with capsizing on both sides, staying calm underwater and moving the blade around their bodies to find the surface where they were most comfortable to roll... a lot easier than it sounds!

However, the most useful technique we worked on were braces, both low and high given that these skills will allow us to avoid

capsizing in the first place!

The team worked with both euro blades and traditional Greenland sticks. This is because both types of paddle will be used on the expedition depending on conditions, and the different blades allow the paddler to focus on developing different parts of their roll. The Greenland stick is more forgiving, the small blade and general buoyancy allowing the paddler to worry less about their blade position and focus on the hip flick and thigh drive while still coming up regularly thus building confidence. The euro blade requires good blade positioning (flat and on the surface of the water) meaning that the paddler can work on finding the surface once a level of confidence has been built with the Greenland stick.

fundamentally, staying upright in the boat is all about awareness, keeping ones hips loose and moving with the water. This is why experienced paddlers can find balance and calm even in exposed positions

It is also why with a good enough flick and loose enough hips the paddle becomes unnecessary to regain the surface or find stability in the boat

Process was made incredibly quickly with all paddlers completing at least one type of roll within their first session. However, the team has a long way to go - a pool with goggles, nose clips and ear plugs is a very different environment from the sea. Next step taking these skills into the surf zone where they really will be 'stress tested'! The most important thing for learning recovery skills like these however is remembering to have fun - something the team didn't find hard to accomplish...

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