The High Brace Eskimo Roll by Robert Finlay of Kayak Lake Mead
The Eskimo Roll is an advanced kayak skill to turn your kayak upright after a capsize. At Kayak Lake Mead, we call this version; the High Brace Roll. This article will explain and show you with video how to do a kayak Eskimo roll with a high brace.
Without doubt, there are many excellent rolls. Some work better for some people, some rolls were
developed for specific kayaks or gear, and some for specific conditions or situations.
Qajaq USA is a great site for traditional kayaks and kayak techniques, with many demonstrations and videos
of various advanced kayak skills including Eskimo Rolls.
As you read through the text; refer back to the videos.
Video - High Brace Roll Explained:
Video - High Brace, C2C Eskimo Roll, and Lever Rolls Compared:
Procedure: How to do my Eskimo Roll... (I think it is pretty simple)...
Pre-Step One: First, learn your Wet Exit, confidently getting out of your kayak should you over turn. This
skill includes pulling off your spray skirt when capsized. AND you must be skilled with your Wet
Entry/Self-Rescue, confidently getting back into your kayak should you be by yourself or should no one be
able to get to you.
Pre-Step Two: Secondly, you must have complete ease with (be a Master of) the High Brace. This is the
basis for the Eskimo Roll taught here. Be able to do it on your left, on your right, just a little ways into the
water without getting your head wet, and all the way into the water with your head submerged.
Step One: Next, learn your orientation. This is important, don't do anything in terms of practicing the roll
until you practiced your orientation. You must be fully confident and comfortable about your orientation
when upside down in your kayak. So, practice being capsized, holding your breath, looking around, looking
down at the bottom, looking up at the surface of the water and sky, and then exiting your kayak
When you are capsized and you cock your head back to look up; you are looking down to the bottom of
that body of water. When you are capsized and look towards your lap, towards your kayak, towards the
deck of your kayak; you are looking up in the direction of the surface of that body of water. Practice
looking up to the deck of your kayak and off to the side of the kayak to the surface of the water.
Step Two: Next, learn to set up your paddle for the high brace. Watch the videos closely. Watch how I
set up my paddle. Here is how I think through it; with my paddle shaft parallel and next to the deck of my
kayak, I push my paddle past the kayak towards the surface. Next, I turn the shaft so that the blade that is
behind my head goes over the overturned hull of my kayak. Now I look towards the surface and
specifically towards the blade that is to the side of my kayak. I make sure the power face of that blade is on
the surface of the water. I make sure my elbow is directly under the paddle shaft. NOTE: I look directly at
the blade and directly at the surface and I make sure that the power face of that blade will engage the
surface...when I pull straight down on it.
Step Three: Now execute the High Brace, pulling straight down on the blade, executing a vigorous hip
snap (hip flick), with head towards the knee but leaning my torso towards the kayak deck to reduce the
moment arm (just as a skater pulls in her arms to make her spin easier and faster) of my rotation back to
the surface. Remember; the hip snap is what does the roll not the pull down with the paddle. But, to
execute a hip snap it helps to have something to pull against and that something is the paddle pulling on the
NOTE: An observer may notice your paddle appearing to do a sweep on the surface. For the purposes of
this roll, DO NOT consider a sweep. Just pull straight down on your shaft as in the high brace. It may
appear as a sweep because, as your torso leans forward, your arm that is straight to your side pulling
straight down on the shaft becomes "sort of" to the side and behind you. You can try this now, hold your
right hand to your right of your ear, elbow straight down and forearm at a 90 degree angle to your upper
arm, pull straight down and lean forward; your arm will appear to do a sweep.
How to practice the Eskimo Roll...
Make sure you are skilled with the wet exit while wearing a spray skirt. Make sure you are skilled with the
wet entry. Make sure you are confident in your kayak while you are in an upside down orientation.
Then watch the videos over and over....go out and try it a few times...come back and watch the videos
some more...practice in shallow water so that you can (huh, huh I can't believe I am going to say
this...push off the bottom). Just don't get into the habit of pushing off the bottom!
YOU CAN do this High Brace Eskimo Roll...ORIENTATION...PADDLE SET UP....HIGH BRACE.
After you have successfully done a roll; you must keep practicing! Practice every time you paddle.
I know this is easier said than done, especially in cold water. But, it is a good habit to get into, especially at
the end of a paddle when you are perhaps tired, cold, and hungry...because that is when you will need the
roll the most in a real situation. Because if you do capsize it is probably when you are cold, and tired, and
hungry so, that is when you should practice.