-- Last Updated: Jun-12-13 6:45 PM EST --
I have found some sea kayaks easier to roll than some whitewater kayaks, as long as they are outfitted to provide adequate knee, thigh, and hip bracing. They can be easier because they are virtually always longer and narrower than whitewater boats, both of which are conducive to rolling.
Having said that, some large volume sea kayaks with a lot of depth in front of the cockpit can be a bit challenging for people with limited flexibility to roll, especially if they use the C-to-C roll. I am a fan of the C-to-C roll and find it is easier for some to learn because it can be broken down into discrete steps, each of which can be worked on individually by the student. But in the C-to-C roll, no rolling up of the boat occurs during the sweep. This requires one to "wrap around the boat" at the conclusion of the sweep before the hip snap is executed in order to keep the paddle blade at the surface. That requires some flexibility and can be difficult in a boat with a big, fat front end even for those with good flexibility.
If you have such a boat and have limited flexibility, and you don't already have a roll, you might want to try the sweep roll as demonstrated in "The Kayak Roll" and other instructional DVDs. The advantage of the sweep roll is that the rolling motion commences just after the beginning of the sweep phase and this gets the fat part of the boat out of your armpit before you get out to 90 degrees. The sweep roll is somewhat harder to learn for some because it is done in one fluid, complex motion.
As for rolling a loaded sea kayak, I have never done it. But I have rolled both open canoes and kayaks full of water (after my skirt blew off in a hole) and I'm sure the weight of that water was as great as any load you are likely to haul. Rolling a heavy boat full of either gear or water can in some ways be easier, because the whole boat lies lower down in the water and less has to come up out of the water, but it requires a slower, more deliberate roll because the boat has a lot of inertia to overcome. Once you get all that mass rolling up you will come up as long as you keep your head down, but if you go for a real explosive snap, your roll might run out of steam well before you are up past the point of no return.
Heel and Pegpads™
Canoe / Kayak Anchors
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