Is Rolling With Hand Paddles Easy?

Mar 24, 2014 by

My how far we’ve come! Just last June I was struggling to roll just in flat water with the help of an instructor. This week I showed the guys how I learned to roll a creek boat with hand paddles (see video below). The key, well, there is no key. It’s a hell of a lot easier to roll with hand paddles than a paddle with a shaft. You get so much more resistance that it’s like catching water with a shovel. I guess the key is ‘not to slice’ and make sure, before you start your roll, that your hand paddles are facing the river bed, that way you get maximum ‘purchase.’ If you lean back on your back deck during your hip snap you may roll right back up and over the other side – you get THAT much power with these hand paddles.

The set up position is a bit different than with a paddle. I start (upside down, underwater, of course) with my hands by my knees, left ear tucked to the side of the boat.

To explain the hand positioning, do this: let your hands hang at your side, palms facing out. Your left hand is good to go. Take your right hand, palm facing out, and move it to your left knee (your hands are now on your left knee, palms facing out). Now rotate your right hand counter-clockwise so your palm is facing your knee. Now keep rolling it in that same direction so your palm is facing outward again. Yes, this is awkward and your arm will feel like it’s being corkscrewed. But this how you get maximum purchase with the blade. Be sure to keep your elbow of your right arm slightly bent or you’ll strain your shoulder.

Now, sweep out in a big arc over your head, away from the boat and down, and hip snap. Pull your head up last, as usual, and you’ll pop right up.

Next step, get the balls to run a river just with hand paddles . . .

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