How important is an Eskimo Roll
Because they are petrified of capsizing in a sit-inside kayak the first thing any new paddler asks is "do I need to know how to Eskimo Roll". To quote Dan Lewis "a beginner will hear everything from “if you can’t roll, you shouldn’t be out there” to “even a bombproof roll will only bring you right back up into the situation that caused you to capsize, so you are likely to flip over again”. Here's what we think.
Most experienced paddlers have never ever capsized - the fact is most kayaks are hugely stable and you are unlikely to take them out into nasty conditions that would cause a capsize. Until of course you are experienced and want to do just that - in which case you are now a competent paddler and know how not to capsize. In fact most capsizes occur when you are getting into the boat in which case you can't roll because you've already fallen out, or in surf landings when a wave capsizes you as you're surfing in and you're probably already too shallow to roll.
Now what is important to know is how to safely exit and then re-enter your kayak in the unlikely event of a capsize. Even paddlers who roll competently will sometimes miss their roll and have to "wet exit" as it is called. In this case they will have to know how to re-enter or else they're in trouble. Now getting back into your boat out at sea is not actually that difficult unless you have particular physical problems and it is something we teach you in our paddling proficiency course when you purchase a kayak. It's safer and simpler to prevent a capsize than learning to roll, so more importantly perhaps you will learn how to brace correctly to stop yourself from falling over.