How to recover a capsized kayak to the upright position

It is vital to learn the basics of kayaking to ensure that you are ready to take on your next challenge, and learning how to recover from a capsized kayak is one of them. Although you are most likely wanting to avoid capsizing, it is inevitable that it will happen, and practicing your recovery in the early days of your kayaking hobby is important so that you won’t be caught off guard, as this can be very dangerous.



The most highly recommended way to recover from capsizing is by using a technique named the ‘Eskimo roll’. This technique is most commonly used when you have a period of anticipation before capsizing, a skill best perfected in practice sessions where you capsize your kayak on purpose as a learning process. You will then be able to strengthen your skillset in capsizing for the future when you may capsize unexpectedly! Here are the four basic steps for the ‘Eskimo roll’.

  1. As you fall into the water, before being fully submerged, bring your paddle parallel to your kayak – this should be done by rolling your wrist forward – and will put you in the optimum position for recovery.

  2. Once upside down, turn the paddle and reach out towards the surface of the water. This moves both your paddle and arm out of the way for the next movement, ensuring that you do not injure yourself or those around you while partaking this exercise. Be sure to keep a hold of the paddle however throughout the roll.

  3. Next, you will use your hips to flip the kayak upright again. You want the momentum from this movement to help you to resume your upright position. It is often helpful to swing your hips left and right a few times to gain a little extra power before making the final push that corrects your position. You must focus all your energy into this hip flick as this is the defining movement of the recovery, your arms will not help at this point so keep the process simple.

  4. After this you should have resumed the upright position in your kayak and will be free to continue your adventures!

This movement may take a little practice to perfect, however, it will help you to get to know what it is like to be in the water and also aid you in building confidence, particularly in situations you may, at first, not feel comfortable in. It is recommended to learn such skills in beginner lessons, so that you can perfect these movements before going out on the waters yourself.

If you are looking to buy a kayak of your own, take a look at the range we offer online, perfect for beginners, we are sure that they will enable you to perfect your ‘Eskimo roll’.

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