Everyone has their own perception or idea of what the name of a discipline is, or how they define what type of craft they paddle. For the sake of our audience and for any confusion, I want to give you my best explanation of what each paddle sport is.
Wildwater – A test and measure of a person against difficult whitewater (class 3 or above) in an 11kg composite kayak made from a carbon and cevlar weve.
Down River – The same craft is used, but only this time it is on much easier whitewater that is no more difficult than class 2. This is the term used for beginners and quite often junior and school’s events are held on this type of river.
River Racing or River Marathon – These are races that are over a longer distance and usually done in a narrower kayak that is made for sprint or marathon. These events are always open to any craft so Wildwater kayaks, surf skis and even SUP’s can be used. It usually takes place on river that have fast flow or only small rapids. Check out this video of the River Marathon I did last year, called the Avon Descent.
Creeking – A shorter plastic kayak that is used for recreational river kayaking at all levels. These are made to survive a hammering from rocks and any other obstacle that gets in its way. They are a lot heavier but make up for it with solid durability.
Extreme Kayaking – The same type of craft is used but this is the racing term for these kayaks. Races vary from time trial, long distance mass start, to also head-to-head Boater Cross.
Boater Cross – An event which like BMX or Snow Boarding has a line-up of athletes (in most cases 4 for kayaking) going down a ramp or starting at the same point in the river to try and progress through each round. There is usually a couple of obstacles along the course to manoeuvre around and sometimes an eskimo roll is required at some point of the course to avoid disqualification. The top two are taken through each round until there is a final four where the podium is decided.
Surf Ski – The Surf Life Saving standard that is used for short course ski races (around 3-4 minutes long). These 18kg skis are lined up on the shore-line where the athlete has to jump onto it before completing a circuit around 3 marker buoys that are configured in a triangle shape course from left to right.
Ocean Ski – These are a much lighter craft that is made for open ocean racing, quite often over longer distances. The races start in a harbour or out at sea with everyone lined up next to each other already seated in the ski.
Canoe Slalom – The term used broadly for both canoe and kayak whitewater slalom, a sport which you might have seen on the Olympics where the athlete has to go through a series of green (downstream entry) and red (upstream) in correct numerical order without hitting and missing the poles to avoid time penalties.
Canoe Sprint – Again a broad term used for the two types of craft (canoe and kayak) that are raced on Flatwater regatta courses. There are 9 lanes with varying progressions depending on the number of entries and level of competition. This is also an Olympic discipline.
That covers some of the paddle sports that we have been involved with over the years. There are lots more different types of paddling that you might have heard of or have tried. Please feel free to ask any questions or correct us on any of the descriptions used.