An hour into my first rolling lesson, I had completed an assisted roll. I small step for someone else a big step for me. Maybe I can roll…
After the first one we repeated the steps slowly a couple times. Eventually to the point he was only using two fingers on the tip of the paddle blade. So we kept on with the next progressive step; wrapping my one paddle blade with a noodle. He insisted it was more mental than anything but it was comforting. I knew he could roll me any time and that my friend the noodle was on my team. So I set up, I punched down, and now I am upside down unassisted. What if I mess up? What if my paddle dives? I am so screwed. I hate emptying my boat. It is embarrassing. However, no one is around. It is exhausting. It is defeating. The anxiety creeped through my joints like a slow electric shock. Focus on the paddle blade I thought. Get it perpendicular on top of the water and hip snap. That is it. That is it. Even at one point I had on a pair of goggles that really helped. There is no great secret. I do not know if I did it my first try or not. It was all a blur. But I will never forget how it felt when I rolled the displaced hull boat by myself. I swear it felt as if he was helping me turn me over. Once I got to one point in the setup after the hip snap the boat would just right itself up. I swear it was the instructor helping. He insisted he wasn’t. Through his stern honest character and explanation, I knew that is just the unforgettable uncanny action of that patucilar boat’s edging. There were failed attempts; freak outs, paddle dives, and head lifts. However there was more success than failures. So he cut more and more foam of until there was none left.
The first roll attempt was a miserable failure. All that progress lost. Dammit. But then I got one , then another, then a fail. Then I would get another, fail and another and another fail. I ended the night with three in a row.
I learned so much; keep an eye on your blade as you sweep, once set stare at the bottom of the pool, beat the hell out of your knuckle and once up – lean back. Keep your left arm tucked, head down and your left hand up on the bottom edge of the boat. Get that paddle blade up to the top of the water- stretch continue to look down & snap. The last part of “leaning back” is a touchy subject. Some say it not correct and opens your face to injury. Well I know my body type and the instructor was the same so at this point I am not worried about my stern lean. I would love to kiss the deck, just do not have it in me. However, I was rolling on m own!
Then a nice couple minutes in the jacuzzi and more casual instruction of different types of rolls and schools of thought. A casual dialogue about advantages and disadvantages of all type of rolls.
The next day I was so sore I was walking like an old man. Along with a swollen left thumb knuckle. I had muscles aching that I could not even name. I trained for my rolling sessions, so the recovery was only a day but wow looks like I got to learn some new exercises. Note to self.
The next session wasn’t as successful and there was an audience to witness it. More to come in Part III