Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Balance Brace practice in the Maelstrom Vital 166

Here goes! I'm starting to practice the Balance Brace without a spotter. Even though I'm not perfect, I'm making progress.

I had to make a choice between camera man or spotter because the camera man is sometimes also my spotter. So most of the time, I choose to have a spotter since I haven't learned to roll yet. It's easy to fall over and go upside-down when you start learning the Balance Brace. I find it isn't very forgiving for mistakes.

I like having someone to spot me, coach me, and also have someone to film each practice session. It's a great way to learn and progress. It takes a village! But we don't always have a village around to help us.

I'm a big fan of Helen Wilson's video, (from "Simplifying the Roll", a multi-level guide to rolling a kayak where you learn the basics in simple terms and can move on from there. She also demonstrates how to troubleshoot common problems with the roll (I have all of them), and she shows you how to progress through the ancient Greenland technique of rolling a kayak.

I especially like her demonstrations and explanations of how you can practice on your own or with a helper.

Thanks to awesome Senjaroller, Frode Wiggen in Norway for recommending this video. It has already helped me a lot. And thanks to Frode for encouraging me from afar, not to give up on trying to learn how to roll. I was ready to give up last year.

Since going directly to learning how to do a full roll just didn't work for me, I'm taking another approach.

I'm going to learn how to Balance Brace first. It's considered a fundamental maneuver or principle for Greenland style. I think of it as a pose I go into with my kayak. This works for me as a fan of Yoga. And my yoga practice helps with flexibility.

I actually enjoy the Balance Brace (when I don't tip over). It's very relaxing, and it's easier for me to learn than rolling. From there, I plan to move on to collapsing the kayak onto myself, and tucking myself into a half roll position and learn the half roll.

It's great to have a simple plan to follow and a guide I can understand and relate to. It gives me confidence and hope. I even look forward to practice now instead of dreading it.

Helen Wilson's video, "Simplifying the Roll" has become my rolling guide. It motivates me and makes me believe I can do it too. It also helps my paddling partner and I learn how to help each other at practice sessions. This video also improved my paddling partner's basic roll by 50% after watching the video, then going to the lake to practice rolling and balance brace. He found his roll almost effortless.

It looks like I'm a Greenlander now too. I like the style, mentality, and teaching methods. And I already have two Greenland paddles and two Greenland style kayaks.

Happy Balance Brace practice and learning how to roll a kayak!
The BaffinPaddler

(Video shot in the summer at Lac Monroe, Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada)


  1. get all that stuff off of your back deck when you're practicing.. it'll be easier to slide on/off..

    1. Good idea! Yes, I'm going to clean up my back deck for next time! But my big red rope bag makes a nice pillow for my head.

  2. Great:) Keep up the good work!

  3. Hey Peggy. Just curious. You post a lot about the "Cowboy Scramble" and bracing exercises. I can see the need to practice these techniques for sea kayaking. But what are your views on the need to utilize these techniques for flat water paddling? Majority of my paddles are rivers, streams, and lakes (e.g. flat water) and I'm usually within 50 yards of a shoreline. I am a good swimmer and ALWAYS wear my PFD, use my paddle leash, also keep a spare paddle strapped to my deck, and take safety precautions when on paddling adventures. I figure "if" I ever roll, I can extract myself from the cockpit and make it to shore. Thoughts?

  4. Sometimes it's just fun to learn and practice skills - and flat water is a great place to practice and learn. Plus, practicing some skills on flat water makes flat water more exciting! It can get a little boring at times . . . ?

    With more skills, you can push your edges a little more if you wish. Some people love rolling. They do it for fun. I like to play with my kayaks.

    Being able to get back into your boat unassisted is a good skill to learn even if you can roll. Stuff happens.

    I hope that people who want to learn new skills don't give up just because they don't learn them in one or two lessons. I didn't learn quickly, but I really enjoy paddling so much more when I improve, or learn something new.

    Flat water can change too?

    Cheers from Canada!