Thursday, July 9, 2009

Calhoun Rolling

For the first time in my career, I paddled to and from a business meeting. I had signed up long ago to help with a rolling session that our club, SKOAC, was holding on Lake Calhoun near uptown Minneapolis. A trade group that I belong to was working on some marketing stuff and I needed to be there, if only to hand off my part of the project. When 'Wednesday, late afternoon' was proposed as the time folks could get together, I told them that the only way I could attend would be if it was held at the Tin Fish, a little seafood joint in the old boathouse on Lake Calhoun. It was a beautiful day and the suggestion received unanimous approval from my 4 associates. The only condition from my all female group was a pleading request that no tight neoprene or spandex paddle gear of any sort was to be worn. I was happy to oblige. After the meeting, fueled by some beer and waffle fries (in the curious world of Minnesota liquor laws, certain establishments are required to serve food with their wine and beer), I put on my tuliq, demonstrated a couple rolls, and headed over to the north beach where the class was beginning to gather.

Rolling classes always seem to draw a crowd. I guess the 'Eskimo roll' is thought of as the ultimate kayaking skill, although I've always believed in the adage, "Roll for show, brace for dough". It seems very appropriate that the start of rolling classes always involves working on the low brace, high brace, and sculling brace. Watching how people work with those skills and concepts always seems to indicate how they will do when its actually time to tip over. Those who methodically view it as a process and work on the steps inevitably do better than the ones with the attitude of 'yeah, yeah, yeah, lets get this crap done with so I can tip over and roll up effortlessly'. Which of course, they never do unless they have the other skills down. I worked with a couple folks that were unlucky enough to draw the guy with the least teaching experience, but by the end of the session both had managed to break the habit of diving their paddle and had the nice airplane wing concept going on the surface of the water. All of the little memory analogies are fun as well. "Farting on a bar stool" for the concept of lifting a knee and butt cheek to drive the boat up, "serving a tray of drinks" for the hand position at the end of a roll, and "pretend there's a $50 bill in your armpit that someones trying to grab" for the idea of keeping the elbows in to protect the shoulder.

There were varying levels of success with the light coming on for some and the fuse needing changing for others. Everyone seemed to have fun, even with the onshore wind and cool temperatures, and I guess that's what its all about in the end. We have a great group of instructors and students, including RonO and the IrishPirate in the top image, and even had a rare pre nuptial appearance by an accomplished greenland style roller. I'll leave you with a video of some crazy behind the neck forward finishing roll by our soon to be wed Greenland paddler.


Silbs said...

Good stuff. Pre nuptial roll...say hi to Alex for me.

DaveO said...

And say hi to JB and the crew at Door County as well. I need to have Derrick teach me that park bench rolling technique for my next teaching stint. Maybe up at Grand Marais next weekend....