I have been meaning to write a post talking about my quest for a live roll for quite a while (first roll in a kayak in either white-water or surf). That is a blog post I shall never write.
That is because I have now got my live roll! I first learnt to roll in the swimming pool just under a year ago, and I have practiced in the harbour and the pool, and got it down to a fine art. I’ve even learnt to hand roll, without using paddles, and am learning some tricks, but up until now, there has always been the added shock factor, capsizing while surfing a wave in, or riding a rapid, which has thus far led me to swim. Capsizing in the surf or on a river is unexpected, disorientating, and nerve-wracking (sometimes you can hear/feel rocks ricocheting off your helmet). You also can’t breathe underwater… and that’s basically less than ideal, meaning I just pull my deck and get out of there!
Well, that was not the case yesterday – I was surfing a wave, when the kayak went sideways, and flipped me over. Within a second, I’ve gone from being on the wave to upside down. For the first time, I hesitated from pulling the deck – my instinct altered through repetition in the pool and harbour and I set up for the roll. I did the stroke, and not quite believing it, I came up. Some of my mates managed to see it, and they’re cheering as they know it’s my first live role.
Feeling amazing, I decided to catch another wave, and within a minute, I’d paddled back out and caught the next wave. I’m riding the wave for about 5 seconds, when it suddenly flips me over. This time, I roll up before I even realise what has happened. My instinct is cemented, and the thought of pulling the deck didn’t even occur. If the first one didn’t count, the second one definitely did.
I’m so happy to have my live roll now, and I should theoretically swim less as I can just roll up – whether or not that’s actually the case, I’ll let you know! But the trouble is, the stakes are higher now! Should I ever swim in future, legend goes that I will have angered the river gods. Naturally, the only way to appease angered river gods is to do a booty. For those unaccustomed with this tradition, a booty is where you down a pint of beer, from your kayaking boot, cheered on by your friends. Once this atonement is made, the river gods will be happy again.
So, as you can see, getting my live roll is both a nice sign of progression but also the start of newer, high-stakes kayaking!