Freestyle is a dynamic & spectacular sport in which Freestyle kayakers perform aerial manoeuvres that are called tricks or moves.

Freestyle takes place on a stationary river freature such as a ‘wave’ that can be formed by a drop in the water height.

Other water features that may be used for Freestyle include standing waves, holes, hydraulics, or eddy lines – all boating terms that indicate or describe when water changes direction.

A competition involves athletes competing for a 45 second period, attempting to complete as many tricks as possible and scoring points for each trick.

Kayaks used in freestyle kayaking are often shorter and lighter than kayaks in other whitewater paddlesports, allowing for increased ease of movement.

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There are over 30 different moves, including the 180-pointer Helix (a 360° spin with at least 180° of which the boat must be inverted and the boat must also be aerial at some point in the inverted part of the move) and the 10-pointer Spin (a 360° rotation of the boat at a 0°-45° vertical angle).

Athletes perform tricks like cartwheels, loops (full flips), blunts (really fast, near vertical turns that spew a curtain of water), and colourfully named moves such as the Roundhouse, the Phonics Monkey, the McNasty and the Donkey Flip.

In ICF competitions, athletes have a set time to perform as many different moves as possible, and they can score additional points for style.

Moves fall into three categories: Entry Moves, Basic Moves, Bonuses.

Freestyle kayaking is a growing sport internationally, and since 2006 has been sanctioned by the International Canoe Federation, the governing body of paddle sports world-wide. Prior to that Freestyle was governed by the International Freestyle Committee, with NSW hosting the 2005  IFC World Championships.

The first ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships were held on the Ottawa River in Canada in 2007, and the first Freestyle World Cup series was held a year later in Prague (CZE), Augsburg (GER), and Thun (SUI).

The World Championships and the World Cups are held on alternate years, with the World Championships taking place on the odd numbered years.

Originally called ‘playboating,’ Freestyle kayaking has been popular since the mid-1980s.

About the time that many extreme sports were emerging or beginning to gain in popularity.

The 1990s saw the introduction of organised competitions, originally called rodeos, but the sport really exploded in the 2000s with improvements in boat design and the manufacturing process, which maximised manoeuvrability and dynamic potential.

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