Tuesday, March 15, 2011


The great outdoors

I've had a great winter at the pool spending as much time under water as above it. My on-side roll had gotten smoother and my off-side is getting ingrained. I lose count of the number of rolls I knock off each night. I felt pretty confident I had a combat roll.

Until Saturday. Welcome to the real world.

We were playing in the waves (Clyde has a good shot) breaking over the rocks in Witless Bay. Over I went. It happened so fast its taken me a few days to sort out in my mind how I got knocked over.

I got too close to the rocks; the water sucked out making the incoming wave stand up (at the right side of Clyde's shot). At an angle to the wave as it broke on my bow, I couldn't brace into it before I was upside down. I did try to roll but in the moving water I got disoriented and I bailed. I felt embarrassed and disappointed. I survived but I have work to do transferring a solid pool roll into a roll in realistic conditions. Realizing that fact is the first step.


  1. First rule: unless you are quite confident about your orientation under water, take the time to set up properly. That usually means waiting to let the boat settle upside down. Second rule: if you fail on your first roll attempt, take the time to set up properly. That means waiting to let the boat settle upside down. The shock of hitting the water unexpectedly tends to cause us to rush the set up and thereby fail to execute a roll that we are quite capable of performing.

  2. What caused you to capsize? Hard for me to be sure, but in general the key to staying upright in dynamic conditions is edge control. That means tilting the boat so that it sits at the best angle to absorb the impact of a breaking wave or to avoid being flipped by a steep wave, even if it doesn't break. I have seen you in rough conditions enough times, Tony, to know that you now do this almost instinctively. As for me, I'm not a rock hopper. But in rough conditions on open water or in surf (launching or landing), I am constantly assessing each wave and "calculating" the angle to tilt my hull to best deal with it. In this, I am a much more "active" paddler than Linda or Des, who seem to run on instinct and do so quite well.