An Eskimo Roll Well-Begun Is Half Done好的開始是成功的一半 – 談 Eskimo Roll

A good start is important, especially for an Eskimo roll. A good setup position will lead the remaining steps naturally, and before you know it, your head has already popped out of the water surface.

Different instructors have taught me the concepts of an Eskimo roll and each of them emphasized the importance of the setup position. In real situations, when you need to roll up your boat, the river will not be as smooth as the water in a swimming pool. The more challenging situation you are experiencing, the calmer you have to be. The setup position is the first step of an Eskimo roll and it’s the only phase you can stay there for as long as you want. It really helps you to sink your disturbing thoughts and relax your body. Remember, you only need about four seconds to finish a roll, and I believe if you are into kayaking, you can hold your breath for at least a minute. You have plenty of time, so don’t panic!

The first time I kayaked was in the summer of 2004. I took a weekend course offered by Northeast PA Kayak School. The first day we focused on learning the basics and fundamental strokes we need to maneuver the boat, and the second day we did a river run and practiced a bit on eddy turns, peel outs, and ferries.

Two days were not enough time, so an Eskimo roll was only touched briefly. The instructors taught us the “C-to-C roll” and it can be divided into 4 steps. The first step is the setup position: both hands lift the paddle high above the water with the paddle surface parallel to the water surface. The second step requires you to rotate the paddle 90 degrees. During the third and fourth steps, your paddle pushes the water and your body performs a hip snap. Your body does 2 Cs in this roll: one is parallel to the boat underwater when you rotate your paddle; the other C forms when you do the hip snap and finish the roll.

With the help of fellow classmates, I finished the attempts for every step separately. I didn’t have a chance to try a continuous motion, but I liked the “C-to-C roll.” Perhaps the “C-to-C” sounds professional or perhaps because it can be practiced step-by-step so that my analytical nature will be able to kick in if I want to understand what goes wrong when I practice.

After that, I borrowed boats from friends and went to the river a few times. I never did a roll, and I wet exited if I needed to. Therefore I signed up a ten-session winter kayaking instructional course offered by Lehigh Valley Canoe Club in 2005.

The roll we learned in the course is called the “Sweep roll.” The setup and the hip snap are the same as in the C-to-C roll. The difference is that in a Sweep roll, when you rotate your paddle, your paddle makes contact with the water, like a butter knife spreads peanut butter on a piece of bread. This sweeping motion will bring your boat up so when you do a Sweep roll, you should hip snap when you start to sweep your paddle to achieve the top performance. However, in a C-to-C roll, the key motion is to reach the 90 degrees, so it is recommended that you keep the paddle above the water the whole time you rotate the paddle. Once you reach the right angle, hip snap.

The borderline between steps is blurred in a Sweep roll, and it’s clear in a C-to-C roll. It is like analog versus digital. I like the C-to-C better, because to me hip snap is an explosive motion, and how can an explosive motion be continuous? Also as I mentioned, the C-to-C suits my analytical nature. Therefore, even though they wanted to teach us the Sweep roll, I still requested to learn how to C-to-C.

After the 10-session course, my successful rate in flat water was between 10 to 20 percent. In the summer of 2005, I did quite a few river runs, ranging from flat water to class 3. I still never tried to roll in the Lehigh River, because I was not confident enough. I saw a lot of people playing with crazy waves, surfing or even play-boating. When their boats tipped over, they just did a roll and kept on kayaking. I envied them and I could only watch even though my boat is a play boat.

A roll is so important if I want to play with rapids, with waves, and with many other things. After all, isn’t it the reason I started to white-water kayak? My jealousy and my adventurous mind motivated me to take a private Eskimo roll class. Before taking that class, I watched an instructional video over and over. I learned that the driving force of a roll initiates from the torso and ends with the hips. The strength from the core muscles keeps your body close to the water surface when you perform the first C. The fact that the body is close to the water surface keeps your paddle from sinking too much during the rotation, therefore your paddle will have more than enough room to brace.

The private class was useful. I was able to roll well enough on my dominant side and I could even do three rolls in a row. However, after that class, I have never gotten a chance to practice more nor done a river run. Last year, we didn’t get a lot of releases from the dams and every time we had a precious release, my schedule just didn’t cooperate.

And then winter came. There are no river runs in winter at least for me, but there are pool sessions. Almost every canoe/kayak club hosts pool sessions during winter for boaters to practice rolls and get ready for the coming season. Most of the pools that have roll sessions are far from home, but I managed to find one that only takes me one hour drive. Last Tuesday was the first session and there are another five to come.

Last Tuesday, before I headed to the pool, my little angel and daemon kept debating. “You think you can still roll? The private class was more than half year ago and after that you haven’t touched your boat!” “You have that in you. Don’t worry. You can do it.” I wish I could grab a daisy, and start to fortune tell: Able to do it; Able to do it not; Able to do it; Able to do it not … Of course, I would make sure the daisy has odd number of petals.

I entered my boat, and the boat seemed to fit me very snugly. I paddled around to warm up. I took a deep breath and talked to my spotter Nick that I was going to roll. I was totally calm and was not afraid of being upside down anymore, but I hadn’t completed a roll for about a dozen attempts. What went wrong? Nick said, “You looked anxious.” Well, was it “more haste, less speed”? I tired to review my attempts, and I couldn’t remember any “step” that I had done.

I paddled around the pool once again, and reviewed all the steps while my boat was cruising, and I tried again. I was getting there, I knew it. The better I thought I prepared for my setup position, the less flawed my roll was. Once I got my setup position right, I rolled back. I started to roll up almost every time, and the reason for a couple misses was I couldn’t set up right.

I asked Larry, an experienced boater who was there helping beginners, why sometimes it was not trivial for me to get to the setup position. He taught me a tip: you should feel that your left armpit (the non-dominant arm) is biting the side of the boat. It worked, and my rolls started to become smooth and effortless. It was an amazing feeling, and I had never thought that rolling a boat can be so easy. Is it supposed to be like that? Oh yes, no doubt. And I confirmed what I’ve always believed in once again: If you keep moving towards the right direction, some day, you’ll reach the destination.

I still have a long way to go. Right now I only manage to roll using my right hand in flat water, and I need to practice to roll up from the other side too. In a river, you cannot always select which side you want to roll up. Once I learn to roll up from both sides, I’ll need to simulate real situations and to roll up in moving water. I tell myself, “something well begun is half done,” and on the path towards white-water kayaking, I now have a good start!

Related Articles:
Kayaking Journal – 04/09/2005 – Little Lehigh Creek (talking about eddy turns, peel outs, and ferries)

凡事重於始,尤其若想成功地做到 kayaking 的 Eskimo roll。假設一開始的準備動作有做好,之後的步驟就會很自然地接踵而來。在還不知道發生什麼事情之前,小船就翻轉180度,回來了。

我聽過好幾個不同的教練談論 Eskimo roll 的概念,個個都強調準備動作的重要。真實的情況下,需要使用 Eskimo roll 的時機,水流可不會像游泳池面那般平靜。經歷越是湍急的水流,越是需要鎮定,而 Eskimo roll 的準備動作可以幫助你安定心情,沈澱不該有的雜慮,以及放鬆緊張的肌肉。因為,該準備動作是在所有步驟當中,唯一一個可以讓你慢慢來,並且可以要維持多久就有多久的狀態。記住,你只需要大約四秒鐘就可以把船翻回來,而我相信,如果你喜歡 kayaking,你恐怕至少可以憋個一分鐘的氣沒有問題。所以,時間充裕的很,千萬不要緊張。

我開始 kayaking 是在2004年的夏天,參加 Northeast PA Kayak School 開設的二天課程。第一天著重基本(像是 wet exit),以及控制行船方向的動作;第二天,則是到河道身歷其境,同時練習 eddy turns、peel outs、和 ferries。

兩天的時間實在很短,關於 Eskimo roll 也只能談到粗淺的層面。教練教的翻船方式叫做「C-to-C roll」,而這個動作可以拆解成四個小步驟。第一個步驟是準備動作:雙手將槳平舉高出水面,槳面平行於水面;第二步驟將槳旋轉九十度;第三和第四步驟,以槳壓水,並做hip snap,將船帶起。整個動作中,身體做出兩個C的動作,第一個是在水面下,身體與船平行,旋轉槳的時候。第二個C則是出現在實行 hip snap的時候。

當時,同班同學互相幫忙,我分別嘗試了四個步驟的分解動作,不過限於時間的問題,沒有機會嘗試完整動作。不過倒是對這個「C-to-C roll」留下了深刻的印象,一則可能是這個名詞聽起來頗炫,另一個則是這個動作可以拆解為分解動作,而此點深得我心,因為我最喜歡分析了,這樣我才能好好分析練習的時候,到底做錯了什麼。

之後,我就到處借船到河裡去玩,從來沒敢真的試著翻翻看,wet exit 倒是做了幾個。我想,這樣怎麼行?於是參加 Lehigh Valley Canoe Club 在2005年初開設的十節 kayaking 的訓練課程。

課堂上教的翻船法,是另一個套式,叫做「Sweep roll」。和「C-to-C roll」比較起來,準備動作是一樣的,最後的hip snap的概念也是一樣的。不一樣的地方在於,做Sweep roll的時候,旋轉槳的整個過程,槳是平壓過水面的。就好像拿著麵包刀在土司上塗花生醬一樣。由於這個塗花生醬的動作,會帶動船的旋轉,所以在一開始塗的時候,就要開始hip snap,這樣才會達到最佳效益。對於C-to-C roll來說,旋轉槳的目的在於達到那九十度角,所以一般是建議整個旋轉的過程中,維持槳出水面的狀態,這樣旋轉才會輕鬆俐落。一旦達到那九十度角,馬上hip snap,船就會起來了。

這樣看來,步驟與步驟間的分界,在Sweep roll上很模糊,在C-to-C roll上比較清晰,就好像類比之於數位。我個人比較喜歡C-to-C,因為總覺得hip snap是需要爆發性的,而爆發性的動作要怎麼樣才能做得綿綿不絕呢?真是百思不得其解。同時就是要「數位」才符合我這個愛分析的人的胃口啊。所以,雖然教練要教的是Sweep roll,我還是要求學習C-to-C roll。

十堂課下來(不是光學 Eskimo roll 而已啦),我的成功率只有十幾二十個百分比。之後,那年夏天,有了自己的船,倒是老是到河上趴趴走,從平靜無波的地段,到分級為三的地段。我還是沒真的在河裡試過 Eskimo roll,因為不到二十的成功率實在不怎麼讓人有自信心啊。只是,每次到河上去玩,都可以看到好多人在熱浪裡翻滾,真是羨煞人也。雖然我的小船就是設計給該些翻滾動作使用的,可我還是只能呆呆地在外邊看,看得到吃不到,嗚嗚。

Eskimo roll對於想要在激流中玩翻滾,玩衝浪的人實在是太重要了,你總不希望每次都出船(wet exit),然後再把船拖到岸邊,清光水再上陣吧?那是很累人的。看那些人玩,我真是越看越羨慕,想要冒險的心,驅使我雇用了一個私人教練,翻個一整天,這總會了吧?在上課之前,還拼命地看錄影帶,了解到 Eskimo roll的驅動力量是從身體的核心部分開始,最終歸結到hip snap的。核心部位肌肉的力量,幫助身體在準備動作,以及從事第一個C的時候,維持上半身盡量接近水平面的事實。如此一來,比較容易維持槳出水面的狀態,使用槳壓水的時候,槳才有足夠的空間,製造出旋轉的力矩。


而無情的冬天就來臨了,冬天我是不划船的,不過冬天還是可以玩船,因為有游泳池練習時段。幾乎每一個從事canoe/kayak的戶外協會,在冬天都會舉辦游泳池時段,讓划船者可以練習Eskimo roll,準備自己,等待划船季節的開始。可惜開放練習的游泳池都離家相當遠,不過,總算還是讓我找到一個只離家一個小時車程的地方。從本週二開始,總共六次。




我問一旁熱心指導新手的Larry,為什麼有時候我會抓不到準備動作呢?Larry教了我一個很不錯的訣竅,他說,你要感覺你的左手臂(在翻船時,不使用的那一手)咬住船側。我照他所說的一做,整個過程變得順暢地不得了,簡直不費吹灰之力。這感覺讓我太興奮了,我從來沒有夢想過,書上寫的「正確的 Eskimo roll應該是不費力氣的」的狀態,會在我身上出現,好像作夢一般。這讓我更堅信我的信念:只要你有恆地持續走下去,一定有到達目的地的一天。


Wet Exit
Eskimo Roll
Kayaking筆記 – 04/09/2005 – Little Lehigh Creek (談 eddy turns、peel outs、ferries)

8 thoughts on “<lang_en>An Eskimo Roll Well-Begun Is Half Done</lang_en><lang_zh>好的開始是成功的一半 – 談 Eskimo Roll</lang_zh>”

  1. I took a sea kayaking class a few years ago where I got to try a few sweep rolls in a harbor. My success rate was about the same as yours, but the experience was so unique – going from upside down under water to right side up above water – that I kept trying it until I was too weak to continue.

  2. 哇。想到昨天我們面對著茫茫大雪還提到有人在雪道上滑獨木舟
    所以小Po好厲害啊!!!! 繼續練習唷,等著看你在水上翻覆自如的那天!

  3. 小帽,
    你給的連結,我看過了。基本上,做完eskimo roll的recovery是建議身體是坐正,或者是有些前傾,如果如連結裡頭所示的仰面朝天,一來在水面下因碰撞而受傷的機會較大(因為是臉部碰撞,沒有安全帽保護的區域);二來,翻船之後,還要花一點時間成為「備戰」姿勢(坐正,往前看)。

    yes, I still remember the first time my body was upside-down, and I thought “it was not as bad as I expected.” I have never tried sea kayaking. I heard that sea kayaking requires you to pay attention to the tides, wind, and waves. It’s quite different from white water kayaking. I hope some day I will try it just to get the experience.

    在雪道上划獨木舟?嗯,真是有點難想像,是用船來 tubing 嗎??

  4. I remember how often I failed to roll when I was frightened. I figured out that, when frightened I was raising my head early, trying to get it out of the water faster. Once I kept my head and face in the water until the last part of the roll brought it up by itself I had better success.

  5. Bruce,
    Welcome to the site.
    Exactly, a lot of time I felt that it is all mental to perform an eskimo roll, but it does take time to overcome the fear of being “out of breath.”

  6. Pingback: Final Frontier: An Outdoor Blog » Blog Archive » Get Ready to Play – Eskimo Roll Revisited準備好要去玩船囉 – 再談 Eskimo Roll

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