The local pool at Enmore has recently been refurbished & they kindly allowed us an hour's lane-time for a session. The aim for me was to go from scratch & try & make a start on acquiring some of the techniques of this ancient art.
Obviously I'm hardly a novice, with a reliable combat roll developed over years of rough water paddling, and a sea instructor to boot, so my learning curve would hopefully be a little steeper than most people out to pick up a new paddling skill.
Nonetheless, Rob took me through first principles, which revolve mostly around becoming familiar with the balanced brace. I can see why people with a lighter upper body can find this particular position so relaxing & joyous, but for a near-enough 100kg 'person of Pacific Islander appearance' who has been banned for life from attending any form of yoga instruction, it is rather a 'stretch'.
We progressed through some gentle recovery exercises using the paddle as an anchor for finessing onto the back deck, onto a full capsize with the same recovery, into a sculling brace to further develop the mechanics of the recovery, then to a full blown go at the technique unassisted.
Rob is a master instructor, breaking down the components of the roll into such small parts, watching the bits that I immediately understood & skipping through them. The result was that after about 25 minutes I was doing a basic Butterfly roll (although because you can't go from the macho jut-jawed world of ski paddling to doing something called 'Butterfly', I prefer to call it a Haka roll).
Rob's own Greenland rolling is really something to behold. Although he doesn't blow his horn on this aspect of his instruction abilities, I can't imagine many other people in the country able to either demonstrate or teach Greenland rolling as well as he does.
With 10 minutes left at the end of out little session he hopped in & showed me the mechanics of the forward finishing rolls, as well as one he's developed himself, awesome stuff.
It's a completely different way of rolling to the whitewater style that I have developed over the years primarily to deal with recovery from being wiped out in big breaking surf. It's rather nice actually, and pretty much at the opposite end of the spectrum to the ski paddling & big water training & paddling I've dedicated myself to these past months!
But…..the deceitful buggers who say it's relaxing & calming should spend an hour in my bones this arvo, I've got strains in places I haven't stretched since the days I was getting pinned on the bottom of rucks.
The video above shows a few of the ugly moments in the lesson, as well as a couple that came out alright, with the bonus of some of Rob's lovely rolls at the end.