Whitewater Kayaking

is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water, typically a Whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking can range from active, moving water, to demanding, extreme Whitewater. There are many different disciplines Freestyle, Slalom, Boatercross, Squirt Boating, and River Running, some examples are listed below

Snowy Mountain Race

The first whitewater race on the Snowy and sanctioned by PaddleNSW

Freestyle Kayaking

is a Dynamic Sport, which involves surfing a wave and performing aerial manoeuvres.
A competition involves athletes paddling for 45 seconds in a wave or a river trying to do as many tricks as possible and scoring points for each trick. With tricks such as cartwheels and McNasties It is a spectacular sport to watch, and an adrenaline pumping event to compete in.”Jez Jezz ” Australian Freestyle Coach September 2015

Freestyle kayakers compete by performing a variety of moves or tricks on a stationary river feature. Standing waves, ‘holes’, or hydraulics, or eddy lines — areas where the water changes direction — are all potential freestyle features.

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

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. The boat must also be aerial at some point of the inverted part of the move) and the 10-pointer Spin (a 360° rotation of the boat at a 0°-45° vertical angle).

In ICF competitions, athletes have a set time to perform as many different moves as possible, and they can score additional points for style. The moves fall into three categories: Entry Moves, Basic Moves, Bonuses.

Kayaks used in freestyle kayaking are often shorter and lighter than other kayaks for Whitewater boating, allowing for increased ease of movement. Some modern freestyle kayaks, made of light plastics, can be lifted completely out of the water by a skilled kayaker.

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 organized competitions — initially called rodeos — but the sport really exploded in the 2000s with improvements in boat design and the manufacturing process, which maximized manoeuvrability and dynamic potential.

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. The first official 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. The last World Championships were held back in Ottawa in 2015

Squirt Boating

is a form of Whitewater kayaking or canoeing where the boat is designed to be as low in volume as possible while still allowing the paddler to float. Squirt boats are designed to use both surface and underwater currents to manoeuvre within the water.

Boater Cross – White Water Paddling at a new Level


Boater Cross, if you haven’t heard of this style of white water kayaking I will try to explain it to you. I can stand corrected if I am wrong but from what I can find there are no standard rules, from one competition to another. The most common type of kayak to use in this competition are the Creeking style of kayak. Apart from a general idea, the rules of each competition are made up by the organizers and of course will depend on the location, river height and all the other variables. It is usually organized as part of a larger event such as play boating or slalom.
It can run over a couple days with heats in a knock out competition until it is down to the final four paddlers. Unlike other white water events where there is only one paddler on a rapid or wave at a time, in Boater Cross there is between four and up to 21 in one event. All started at the same time trying to finish a section of rapid in the fastest time. Some of the events are arranged like a relay where each team member has to run the rapid and then run back to the start and tag the next paddler.

The competition is a race from the top of a rapid to the bottom in the fastest time but some event put obstacle on land before the competitor reaches the water and starts to paddle. As well as the natural obstacles, such as holes, wave trains and weirs there maybe man made obstacles such as gates to pass through. One event had a six-meter weir in it.

Although it may look like carnage in a competition, safety is always paramount with each paddle having to carry safety equipment and have their own safety team. Event organizers make sure the competitors are at the correct level of capability. This is important because these events are held on rivers with bigger water than most competitive events.

Here is an example of some of the rules for one event.

  • teams consist of 4 people each going in turn in a relay format
  • each competitor must do 20 push-ups in the starting area
  • Boats must be dragged along from the start line. All competitors’ boats are located there. Teams can use 1-4 boats
  • 2 lanes
  • left eddy directly above A Hole the competitor must toss paddle over the horizontal bar on the gate
  • competitors must make it into the eddy with all of their gear (i.e. boat & paddle)
  • each person must carry their boat from the starting area through the tires touching the ground inside of each tire
  • when a person is done with their lap they must physically touch hand to hand the next competitor before the next competitor leavesI thought this next paragraph in the rules was particularly interesting:
    Since several competitors will be on the course at the same time vying for lanes through gates boat / body contact will be expected. Competitors can remove their hands from their paddle to contact another competitor, but not allowed to fend off another competitor with their paddle (disqualification)

    Whitewater slalom

    is a competitive sport with the aim to navigate a decked canoe or kayak through a course of hanging downstream or upstream gates on river rapids in the fastest time possible.

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