Major Competitions and Events

Olympic Games

Flatwater and Slalom canoeing and kayaking are included as Olympic sports. In the Flatwater competition, women compete only in kayaks, while there are men’s events for kayaks and canoes.

Women race in the 500m K1, K2 and K4. Men compete in the 500m and 1000m K1 and K2, 1000m K4, 500m and 1000m C1 and C2.

The Slalom event sees paddlers negotiate between 20 and 25 gates in white water over a 300m course. The paddler with the shortest course time wins (with penalties taken into account). Men compete in the K1, C1 and C2 classes, and women in K1 only.

Other International Competitions

Flatwater – World Championships are held every year (every two years for the Junior category), as is the World Cup.

Slalom – World Championships are held every year (every two years for the Junior category), as is the World Cup.

Wild Water – World Championships are held every two years for Seniors and Juniors. The World Cup is held annually.

Marathon – Both World Championships and World Cup are held annually in this discipline.

Canoe Polo – Biennial World Championships are held.

Canoe Sailing – A World Championship event is held every three years.

Dragon Boat – The World Championships are held every even year, with the World Club Championships held every odd year.

Freestyle – The first World Championships were held in 2007, with the event held biennially.

National Competitions

Annually, five regattas are held at the National Water Sports Centre, which incorporate an interclub championship and age group National Championships. Local regattas are also held at other UK locations throughout the year. Women compete in K1, K2 and K4. Men compete in K1, K2 and K4, as well as C1, C2 and C4.

British National Championships are held annually. Slalom canoeists are ranked according to their performance in events held throughout the season, with points accrued for the fastest time in each individual race. There are four main divisions (with Division 4 being the lowest, for casual paddlers with basic skills, and Division 1 being for advanced paddlers). A Premier Division, above Division 1, is reserved for the highest performing sportsmen and women. Promotion and relegation between the divisions occurs every season. There are K1 events women and men, with C1 and C2 events for men only. There are also team events.

Wild Water
National Championship events are held throughout the season in the Sprint and Classic categories. There are K1 events for men and women, C1 and C2 events for men only. There are also team events. Points are accrued throughout the season, the winner being the competitor with the highest points total. The Perception Wavehopper Challenge Series is more of a fun competition, aimed at newcomers to the sport.

The main focus of the UK Marathon scene is the Hasler Series. This is a divisional system, with rankings determined by performance in a series of events (over 60 races in all) held between September and August. Races are held over distances of 4, 8 and 12 miles depending on the division. Promotion and relegation occurs each season. An equivalent series for junior competitors (age 8-12) is also held, and is known as ‘The Lightning Series’.

Canoe Sailing
The National Championships (incorporating the one-day Sailing Challenge Cup Race) are contested over the course of five days. They comprise nine races, six of which count towards the final standings. The Travellers’ Series comprises five Premier Events, four nominated Open Meetings and the National Championships. Points are awarded for the position attained in each of these races and determine the overall winner of the series.

Dragon Boat
The BDA National League is a series of dragon boat racing events which take place over the summer season. The format is a series of regattas, with points awarded for the overall placing attained at each event. Races are held over a distance of 200m and 500m.

The Peak UK WW Challenge is a major event in UK Freestyle, with paddlers completing two 45 second sessions, or rides, in a play hole or wave on the water. The two scores are added and competitors progress through the rounds to knock-out finals.

Canoe Polo
Canoe Polo teams compete in a National League, and local Polo Leagues also operate in different UK regions. The season runs from October to April. National Club Canoe Polo Championships are held annually at the end of May, and the once-yearly National Championships are run over a weekend during the summer.

A number of outdoor tournaments are organised by clubs during the summer months, notably the Merseyside International, Hull International Challenge and the Welsh Open.

Canoe Surf
Surf competitions include the English Nationals, British Plastic Championships, and the British Championships. Events take place throughout the season for which points are awarded, determining the overall ranking.

Taking up Canoeing

Opportunities to have a go at canoeing are abundant. With a large number of inland waterways, a long coastline and a number of purpose built watersports centres, the UK is actually an ideal spot for paddlesports. Canoeing is possible year round, though it may not exactly be enjoyable out-of-doors during the winter months. Basic canoeing skills are often taught indoors in swimming pools, and this is also the setting for canoe polo.