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Cross-Arm/Storm Roll

Published on 4/23/2019

Cross-arm/Storm Roll*Pic*

Posted By:Greg Stamer<>
Date: Wednesday, 5 December 2001, at 11:09 a.m.

There has been a fair amount of interest and discussion in the storm roll, so I hope that the following information will help. When reading the following, consider however, that everyone has their own style, and the "feel", for you, may be totally different from what I have described.

Following are pictures of the "cross-arm" roll, but this roll is a close variant of the "storm roll" (bow to stern low brace sweep, start tucked forward, lever paddle off the hull, forward recovery), and should help those who are struggling with the storm roll as well.

First a note on the awkward hand position. For capsizing on the left with the cross-arm roll, You first place your right hand on the paddle (aft), and then cross your left arm over top (as the front hand - toward the bow). This simulates the contortions you might face if entangled in harpoon line (or fishing line, towline, debris), unable to spread your hands.

If you are working on the storm roll, take this narrow hand position into account when you view the pictures below. For the storm roll your hands will be placed comfortably apart.

Otherwise, the storm and cross-arm rolls are very similar. Note in the first frame how the paddle is positioned to be "levered off the hull". The inboard hand/blade has stayed in contact with the hull and is near the chine just before the hipsnap. The palms face the hull (a low brace position). You may feel that the outboard blade must be lifted unnaturally high, but you need to get it close to the surface. Here you can see how your hull can influence this roll.

I am lifting my torso as close to the surface as possible. Note how the kayak responds, by starting to lay on its side.

The second frame is the result of a forward leaning hipsnap. I use much more hipsnap in the storm/cross-arm rolls, than in the sweeping rolls. It feels as if I'm trying to hit my head into my lower knee. Learning a "forward hipsnap" can take some time if you muscle-memory is hard-wired to a layback hipsnap. During the recovery, note how the inboard hand/blade continues to stay in contact or very close to the hull. The cross-arm roll is a fairly difficult roll. The storm roll is much easier, but not as effortless as a standard roll (bow to stern high brace sweep with layback recovery). Your mileage may vary!

You do need enough flexibility to tuck close to the kayak, and crunch your torso toward the surface. I find that I have to perform regular hamstring stretches (see Stretching by Bob Anderson), for this and a number of other rolls.

Photos are courtesy of Ron Gibbert, (Shearwater symposium, Orcas island, last September).

Greg Stamer

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