Wednesday 7 March 2012

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'…..

Yarra Bay - pic by Rob Mercer
We teamed up with Wayne & Mel Hanley from Greenland Downunder on Saturday to host a free Greenland rolling day, at an overcast & rainswept Yarra Bay.
We had a great turnout, with more than 20 paddlers registered, ranging in ability from very accomplished in the Greenland arts, to 'just rollers' wanting to explore.
Demo - pic by Rob Mercer
Mel kicked off the day with a polished demonstration of a range of Greenland rolls, rattling off a selection of the competition rolls as well as some of the 'non approved moves'.
Mel Hanley, textbook positioning - pic by Rob Mercer
We then split into two groups, roughly along the lines of 'looking to really finetune' and 'looking for a refresh on the basics'.
Mel - pic by Rob Mercer
Rob & I took the group who were after some basics, as we felt we had these covered from an instructor's perspective, while Mel & Wayne looked after the diverse bunch of more advanced rollers.
It was fun, many of the people present cracked a roll they hadn't previously managed, & there was plenty of loud applause & cheers as one after the other a debut butterfly roll or reverse sweep or hand roll was achieved by a smiling paddler.
pic by Rob Mercer
Having not previously instructed the Greenland stuff in a specific & concentrated way like this, it struck me how similar it really is to teaching the standard combat rolls we have honed over the years. Good body mechanics are good body mechanics, & rotation is really the key to good rolling, or good Greenland rolling for that matter.
Once everyone had managed to blow out their energy on the exhausting effort of learning rolls, contorting themselves into all sorts of bizarre positions, we hopped into our boats & fart-arsed around for an hour swapping tips & tricks.
Kitting up - pic by Rob Mercer
Dave, Ian, Shawn & I exchanged theories on a few of the rolls, then Rob paddled out & tried to get us all doing the Storm roll (another one that looks mysterious but is ridiculously easy once you get your head around the mechanics).
Mel tried every trick she had to get me balance bracing, but alas the consensus seems to be that I'm just not very buoyant. For a graceful looking, peaceful manoeuvre when I watch someone else doing it, once I start twisting my own frame into the textbook balanced brace shape it feels more like water torture….
My personal goal is to be able to do all of the Greenland rolls I can do with a stick, just as well with my standard paddle, without extending my grip or changing my hand position on the paddle. Although my range is pretty small, maybe 8 rolls according to the book, so far I'm able to do it, which means effectively I'm able to transfer some of the powerful forward-finishing rolls into my rough water & surf paddling. The forward finishing rolls are especially strong & 'safe' for combat situations, & make it possible to roll like the whitewater guys, basically 'from anywhere' without having to go through a laborious set up underwater. One tip for successfully transferring the rolls from the surety of a buoyant & unfeathered GP to a feathered & clunky Euro blade, just forget it's a Euro blade. Use it the same way & rely on your body mechanics & you'll find the rolls work the same, even with a diving feather angle being the most logical outcome in your head. Like most of this stuff it's really a head game….
The gang then adjourned to the excellent Yarra Bay Saling Club for a cold beer & a burger, & swapped tall stories well into the arvo.
A top morning on the water & a precursor to what Cheri Perry & Turner Wilson with their very broad & inclusive instruction might provide when they're here in a few weeks.
Thanks to Wayne & Mel for coming along & to all who attended.
There is a great little video on Ian Vaille's blog Waterlines, which you can see HERE.


  1. OK, I'll have to pretend my euro blade is a GP so I can get this reverse sweep roll working with a euro. It was great to get some instruction on the reverse sweep as it can be nasty on the shoulders if not done right. Thanks for a great day.

  2. That's the thing hey Megan, you manage to crack one of these 'advanced' rolls, and then it clicks, they are all quite similar, whether forward or backwards finishing. I reckon your reverse sweep on Saturday is the start of a whole repertoire by the time Rock and Roll comes around!


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