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Kayaking Fundamentals: Mastering the Kayak Sweep Roll

The kayak sweep roll is a very efficient way to roll your sea kayak or whitewater boat. It’s smooth, low impact and while it doesn’t give more support, the support is longer-lasting and gives you more time to combine the hip snap with that paddle support.

In this video from our Kayaking Fundamentals series, kayaking instructor Ken Whiting demonstrates the technique and gives tips that will help you master this important kayaking safety skill. This is just one of the roll techniques. You’ll want to master as many different ones as you can. You never know just what the water will throw at you and you want to be prepared.

Starting from the same setup position as the other roll techniques, you’ll flip upside down. You’ll push your paddle up near the surface and bring your head and body up as high as possible. Keeping you inboard elbow bent, and fairly close to your body, you’ll sweep your paddle out and across the surface of the water in as wide an arc as is comfortable.

You’ll watch the blade and rotate your body throughout. With your wrist cocked slightly forward as you do this, the blade will have a slight climbing angle on it. This climbing angle supplies the lift and buoyancy that gives your hip snap the support it needs to complete the roll.

As you gain support from your paddle, start a powerful hip snap by pulling up with your knee to roll the kayak upright. When the lower cockpit rim hits you in the lower side you know you’ve hip snapped the kayak as much as you can. Now you’ll swing your body backward and over the top of the kayak. You want to keep your eyes on the blade the whole time, so your head doesn’t lift.