Some Real Rolling Lessons…Part I

Half way through my first rolling lesson my instructor goes “are you claustrophobic?”
I couldn’t help answering “no.” I look back at that question now with great interest. Was I? Am I? I never lost my cool while spelunking. I never felt cornered or trapped. I do not mind things like that. I wish I could have gone back to that simple “no” to a “no but…”

Let back it up an hour. No wait lets back it up further. I have paddled on and off for three years. Two seasons interrupted with two major abdominal surgeries. While laid up I read William Nealy’s book”, Ken Whiting’s book and paul Dutky’s “The Bombproof Roll & Beyond.” Little free time accompanied with a shy personality has limited my opportunities. I tried doing self taught session, in the privacy of a friends pool. That was defeating. I tried going to pool session but didn’t know anyone or even where to begin so I just spent an hour splashing around and hip snapping up against the wall.  Eventually a good and kind friend I know came and stopped by and took a lot of time explaining what I needed to know.  Confidence.  However, by the time I felt like I knew what a hip snap really was, the pool sessions were over for the club. 

Recently I got a little more instruction.  I well known paddler got me rolling with a bunch of noodles tied together.  That does not sound like much, but it was a huge step and a wonderful feeling.  To turn upside, and not need to “bother” anyone for a bow rescue.  Or know for certainity  I would have to empty my boat.  I felt the refeshing and exiliration of an adult being newly baptised.  That free unassisted breath of free air even though assisted by foamy noodles was a truly great feeling.

Ok back to an hour ago.  I met up with my instructor.  A very well educated boater with who is articulate with his words and has a military backround.  So here I am kind of hoping for a simple roll, something I should of mastered a long time ago.  I showed him what I have learned.  Not being in a boat for over a 8 months I am trying to just feel comfortable.  A couple shakey hip snaps, and I felt ok,  The intructor gave compliment after compliment.  Which was reassuring from the stern military type character.  He assured me that he could roll me up at any time, and I knew he was sincere.  We then progressed from hip staps with him walking through the roll and guiding me through the mechanics of each step. 

Then was the first plundge.  I set up, punched down to the bottom of the pool.  I just kept thinking, this is not going to end well.  I am wasting his time.  I am wasting my time I am never going to get a roll down.  There are those who can and those who can’t and as I plundge over;  I was certain I would end up freaking out, emptying my boat and being one of those who just can get it.  As I was upside down he guided my paddle blades and when he shook my blade I was to hip snap.  He sweeped my blade perpendicular to my boat then he shook the paddle blade.  I tried  kneeing a hole though the displaced hull  of the boat with my right knee. A shake, and violent snap and I was up. All smiles…


About Leo

Taking it one day at a time...
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