Greenland Technique: Rolling & Rescues


Qajaq TC; Photo by Dave Dalquist

Rolling is an extremely useful skill, but there is much more to safe Greenland-style kayaking than just rolling. While rolling can become a form of sport in itself, for safe kayaking you will need to work on developing all of your skills, including sound judgment.

The Greenland paddle is so adept at rolling that it's only natural to start looking at the competition rolling list and wondering, where do I start? One logical rolling progression (after one learns basic techniques including bracing, forward strokes, etc) is:

  • Become comfortable in/under water
  • Side sculling (teaches paddle control,finding balance point of kayak and body, and aft leaning hipsnap on recovery).
  • Standard roll (you may wish to scull up initially)
  • Balance brace (logically you could do this right after learning a side scull but most people want to get a roll down as soon as possible)
  • Armpit roll or crook arm roll (for variety and to have a one-handed option)
  • Chest scull (teaches forward leaning hipsnap)
  • Reverse roll (very closely linked to the chest scull)
  • Storm roll (an excellent roll for battle conditions)
  • Other rolls of your choice.
  • Norsaq rolls (a good intro to the hand rolls)
  • Hand rolls

The Greenlanders start with the first three items in the order shown. Otherwise follow your interests and keep it fun (and safe).

Greenland Championship Rolling Maneuvers

The list of thirty-five capsize maneuvers performed at the annual Greenland National Kayaking Championship. Includes the Greenlandic roll names and sound files of Maligiaq Padilla pronouncing the terms, as well as brief history and purpose of each maneuver.

Greenland Roll Translations

Literal translations of Greenlandic rolling names courtesy of Birgit Pauksztat. Some of the translations provide interesting insight into the techniques

Competition Rolling Scoresheets

English translation
Greenlandic (untranslated)
This is the Qaannat Kattuffiat scoresheet used for event scoring at the Greenland championship. To use, circle the value indicated by the "More" column if a roll is done perfectly on the first try. If the participant barely makes it up on the first try, or has to resort to a second try, the "Less" value is circled. Left and Right refer to an attempt on either the paddler's left or right side. The winning score at the 2000 event, in the 20-34 age category, was 277 points by Ari Josefsen of Nuuk! Translation thanks to Hans Kleist-Thomassen of Qajaq Nuuk.

The "Petrussen Maneuver" by Greg Stamer

The traditional method of getting your head above water to breathe without the hazards of a wet exit. This article originally appeared in the August 2000 issue of Sea Kayaker magazine. This web version includes photos not published in Sea Kayaker.

Qajaq USA Video Clips

Video clips including footage from Greenland Competitions. Clips include forward strokes, rolling, rescues and rope gymnastics. Rolls include the standard roll, reverse sweep roll, storm roll, armpit roll, vertical sculling roll, cross-arm roll, under-the-hull sculling roll, handroll with a brick, straight-jacket roll, walrus pull.

Qajaq Rolls - Dedicated to Greenland Qajaq Rolling

Christopher Crowhurst has an attractive site dedicated to Greenland rolling techniques. Sections include pages for Layback rolls, Braces and Sculling rolls, Forward finishing rolls,Norsaq rolls,Hand rolls and Miscellaneous (Rock, Swimming, Petrussen, Reentry and roll)

Kayak Ways ... A living Tradition Continues

Turner and Cheri are well-known instructors in the Greenland-style kayaking community. Their site contains excellent rolling videos including standard Greenland roll and other aft finishing rolls, storm rolls, other forward finishing rolls, rolls with no paddle, sculling rolls and more.

Greenland Rolling and Rope Gymnastics; by Dubside

This site provides detailed information on rolling AND rope gymnastics including videos for many techniques. For the rolling information click on the kinngusaqattaarneq link

Qajaq JPN

The Qajaq JPN website contains extraordinary artwork and animation by Eiichi Ito and is good fun to visit. The technique information is beautifully rendered, and is definitely worth repeated visits. Qajaq JPN is officially a part of Qaannat Kattuffiat in the same manner as Qajaq USA. The amazing storm roll animation below is from the Qajaq JPN website.

Rolling Links from the Masik Newsletter

Teaching Rolling - The Human Kayak Method by Helen Wilson
Opposite Arm Rolls - Roll up on the right side using only the left arm by Dubside
“What Was That?” Some rolls that aren't on 'The List' by Jonathan Long
Rolling, Rolling, Rolling- re-awakening, My Favorite Pastime by Cheri Perry

Rescue Links from the Masik Newsletter

Making a Custom Sea Sock - A Second Line of Defense by Jim Belair
Dewatering and Self-Rescue in a Skin-on-Frame by Peter Strand
Putting Together a SOF Repair Kit by Joe Fleischer

We would love to hear from you! If you have suggestions for technique links for this page, found a broken link or have other ideas to share, please contact us.

Eastern Arctic Kayaks -- History, Design, Technique by John D. Heath and E. Arima

With contributions by John Brand, Hugh Collings, Harvey Golden, H.C. Petersen, Johannes Rosing, and Greg Stamer. Includes Greenland-style technique information by Heath, H.C. Petersen and a chapter by Stamer on "Using Greenland Paddles (covers one method of using the canted forward stroke in detail). This book is rich in kayak surveys, history and information about Greenland and East Canadian Arctic kayaks. Heath and Arima provide a broad context of the history and cultural significance of these kayaks. The surveys by Heath, Harvey Golden, Hugh Collings and John Brand (excerpts from Brand's "Little Kayak Book" series), should be useful to many builders. Available at the Qajaq USA Online store.

Commercial Videos (Greenland Rolling)

Qajaq USA has no financial ties to the following selections. These suggestions are provided only as a service to the Greenland-style kayaking community.

This is the Roll

Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson teamed up with Justine Curgenven (creator of "This is the Sea" series) for this instructional DVD on learning to roll. Detailed explanations, filmed from multiple angles, on the standard Greenland roll, reverse sweep and the storm roll. Includes land exercises and explanations of the most common errors and how to fix them.

Simplifying the Roll with Helen Wilson

Helen's DVD has three chapters and a bonus section. The first chapter teaches a balance brace and a standard Greenland roll (which can be done with any type of paddle). The second chapter troubleshoots the roll, and the third chapter is a progression to more advanced rolls. The bonus section is on forward finishing rolls. Helen's goal was to "show people that a roll doesn't have to be quick and violent, and that a Greenland roll is gentle on the body… and it doesn't even require a Greenland paddle".

USK Greenland Rolling with Maligiaq and Dubside Part 1 and 2

Maligiaq and Dubside present advanced rolling technique in this two part series. Skills included in part 1 are: Learning to roll, Euro paddle transition, Greenlandic Glossary, Side Scull ,Balance Brace, Butterfly Roll, Standard Roll, Shotgun Roll, Norsaq Layback Roll, Storm Roll, Chest Scull, Reverse Sweep Roll, Elbow Crook Roll, Neck Roll, Reverse Neck Roll, Cross Arm Roll, Hand Layback Roll, Fist Layback Roll and the Brick Layback Roll. Skills included in part 2 are: Layback Sculling Roll, Front Deck Sculling Roll, Back Deck Sculling Roll, Vertical Sculling Roll, Hull Sculling Roll, Spine roll, Behind The Back Roll, Hunting Float Roll, Speed Storm Rolls, Speed Standard Rolls, Norsaq Roll Front To Front, Norsaq Roll Back To Front, Hand Roll Front To Front, Hand Roll Back To Front, Fist Roll Front To Front, Fist Roll Back To Front, Brick Roll Front To Front, Brick Roll Back To Front, Elbow Roll, Straight Jacket Roll, Upside Down Paddling and the Walrus Pull.

We would love to hear from you! If you have suggestions for technique links for this page, found a broken link or have other ideas to share, please contact us.


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