Monday, May 21, 2012
The Rolling Troika
I've had a continuing conversation that's gone on for years with one of my Madison cronies, a man famous for having a head that no hat can possibly look good upon. His theory is that you don't need 35 different rolls on each side, just one that will get your ass out of the water if needed. This is a completely practical approach to and view of rolling the kayak. I counter with the assertion that rolling is actually fun and not just an end to getting out of the water. While there is no way I will ever learn all the Greenland rolls, it is fun to play around with them and a good day on the water can still be 45 minutes of rollling where you paddle a total distance of 50 yards. Unlike most of our political leaders however, I have found myself edging away from my dogmatic and ideological Greenland party line that all rolls are good rolls and should be embraced, toward the more practical attitude of practicing what will get my rear end up and sitting on the water rather than saluting the sky. The arrival of Justine's video of Turner & Cheri teaching and breaking down three rolls only served to reinforce my move toward rolling moderation.
The video, This is the Roll, is outstanding. But you don't need me to tell you that, its all over cyberspace in several languages. I've had the pleasure of training with Turner & Cheri a couple times, as have many interested Greenland paddlers (they do get around!) and Justine has captured their teaching style and 'the T & C vibe', set against some spectacular backgrounds, perfectly. As only Justine can do, of course. As others have said, I plan to heist as many of those teaching techniques and tips as my smaller than average brain can hold for this summers training and symposium season. I do hope to pay them some royalties in the form of New Glarus Brewing products at Ethel's in Bayfield this summer but it will be small compensation for the good stuff I saw in the video. The thing that I enjoy most is the filming of the screwups. All of us have performed those stupid rolling tricks while learning, but when our video cameras come out it is to record our successful efforts. The great part is after we watch the screwups, painfully remembering how we personally and precisely botched the roll in that fashion, Turner & Cheri break down what happened and how to correct it. I found that to be invaluable, both personally and for future students. The other part that got me thinking was the focus on three rolls, the three rolls that will get you upright in whatever conditions you encounter. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I'd never gone over while gutting a seal on my deck, necessitating the crook of the elbow roll to hold on to my knife. I'd also never had both my paddle and my spare paddle go flying away and been forced to go to the Norsaq roll. I also realized on Long Lake last evening that while my layback roll is solid on both sides, my forward finishing and storm rolls on the 'other side' (thanks Turner) both have the success rate of a 'good glove/no bat' shortstop, about .214 average.
I decided last night that this summer will be the summer of what I have christened The Rolling Troika. The Russians love a troika, the famous three horse hitch used for winter sleigh rides, and I think the symmetry and imagery of three perfectly coordinated and matched horses or rolls is appropriate and fitting. Eiichi Ito of Qajaq Japan has an excellent site focused exclusively on the storm roll, one of the troika along with the standard Greenland layback and reverse sweep. The motto on the mast head is, "The practice never betrays you!". It became apparent on Long Lake last night that it is indeed and truly the case. So practice I will. I would also encourage my associate in Madison to move from his intransigent, fundamentalist position of one roll/one side, to embrace at least a reverse sweep or chest scull of some sort. He actually learned to roll at The Gathering and was taught by none other than Ms. Cheri Perry herself. He is currently on injured reserve as well, and we can all only hope the repetitive yet pleasurable exercise I've recommended to him can get his wing in shape in time for our July UP trip. The water is perfectly warm enough for extended rolling practice, even in Chequamagon Bay, and I would encourage the fresh water rolling fans in the Great Lakes region to get out on the water. Its a short season and it's on now!