Rob Mercer and learnng to roll

07 Oct

I finally got around to advancing to the next level of my kayaking career. I’ve decided to learn to roll before going to do my sea skills grading. I think this will encourage me to go out more, particularly into the surf, and that in turn will get me in shape to take on sea skills.
The natural move was to book a session with Rob Mercer – The Balanced Boater. His reputation is rated in the ‘venerable’ category and I’m looking at this from a personal cred point of view as well in that I can say I was trained by Rob Mercer. Of course, this is not to diminish the enormous respect I have for my first trainers to Grade 2 level, Henry van der Kolk and David Hipsley, both of whom gave me a good foundation in paddling and instilled confidence in me when I despaired of ever improving.
Rob is older than me but in infinitely better shape. When watching him paddle (mostly from behind!) you see a man/boat/sea symbiosis that is amazing to see and I think I can only dream of ending up like that. I guess it comes from spending a long time doing a thing you love rather than sporadically trying to catch up from where you left off last time.
After two hours at Watsons Bay in Sydney Harbour, I felt things I remember feeling from all the years I spent in karate when you are given the undivided attention of a great instructor and you can just feel yourself getting better all the time. I remember complaining once to Glen Henry, a 4th Dan in Goju Ryu, my karate style, that when I punch and connect my wrist sometimes buckled and sprained. He took me outside the dojo to a bunch of worn makiwaras and after some quiet guidance told me to strike them 50 times with each fist before entering the dojo to train. ‘Do this every day’. After a few weeks I punched like a pile driver, even earning a reputation as a hard hitter. I can hit hard to this very day without injury, not just hard but skull smashingly hard. Having Rob put me through a series of drills to get into a position to perform reliable rolls was just like Glen Henry’s instruction. I felt a sort of euphoric intimacy with my chosen sport.
At the end of the session I still couldn’t roll. I don’t know that I was supposed to. I’m nearly there though, I can feel it coming. I can’t wait till the next session. The only thing stopping me from going longer was the cold, exhaustion and Rob’s time. Someone said that rolling was easy to do but hard to learn. I can see that now. I can see what I have to do, I just need to do the drills until I can do it and by this summer’s end I will be rolling.


Posted by on October 7, 2008 in Kayaking Life


Tags: , , ,

3 responses to “Rob Mercer and learnng to roll

  1. squid71

    January 13, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Hey mate,

    Would you be interested in trying to tempt Rob to come up here on a regular basis? There are a couple others interested, so far that makes 3.

  2. rjimlad

    January 13, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Very yes. But from experience with Rob I can say that it’s best with only a few and if we clan up we wouldn’t get the quality time we’d want. However, if we could encourage Mark to come as well… of course we’d have to look at costs but if there were 6 on a regular basis it would be pretty cost effective. My session with Rob was invaluable and his costs incidental by comparison to my benefit.

  3. squid71

    January 13, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Ok well we will see what we can arrange.


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