I managed my first roll (strong-side) about three months after I bought my kayak. Than I practiced it for about 6 months before I got really good at it. Than I continued rolling on my strong-side for another 6 months before I even contemplated trying to learn to roll on my weak-side. That was a mistake; I feel I waited far too long before learning to roll on my weak-side.
Well, I did my first weak-side roll just under a year ago. I practiced it in the pool sessions last winter, with much frustration, and continued practicing it over the summer and into the fall. But I found that it has come to me very slowly, much more slowly than my strong-side. It has been a struggle for me to get comfortable with it.
During the pool session last week I was fooling around with something and found myself having to roll up without setting up. Without thinking about it I automatically started to set up on my weak-side. I nearly had my paddle set and the realization came to me that I was not set up on my strong-side and I actually started to switch the paddle to the other side. I remember thinking to myself that this is what all the practice has been for. Then I stopped myself and reverted back to setting up my paddle on my weak-side and rolled up. Of course, all this took only seconds….
I think that was one of those kayaking turning points. You know, those moments that you feel you have finally achieved something, or crossed a threshold that has been holding you back. Until that point my weak-side rolling had been all done with intent. That was the first time that I had done one without starting from an up-right position in the kayak. To me this means that my weak-side has finally begun to feel more natural.
The real test will come one day when I get knocked over in a real-paddle situation and, without hesitation, I will simply roll up on my weak-side. After a while I hope to be able to say I do not have a strong-side or a weak-side roll. I will simply just have a roll on both sides.