BBC Sport canoeing


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Slalom canoeing guide

Canadian canoeing at the world championships

If you're on the look-out for an action-packed sport and don't mind getting wet, canoeing could be perfect for you.

There are two types of canoeing races - sprint racing and slalom.

In slalom, the aim is to paddle as fast as possible down a turbulent course, through a number of gates, without touching or missing any of the poles that define these gates.

Paddlers travel downstream through green gates and upstream (against the flow) through red gates, with between 18 and 25 gates on a course.

A two-second penalty is added to a paddler's finishing time for hitting a gate, and a fifty-second penalty is incurred for missing a gate.

Sprint racing takes place on flat water over distances of 200m, 500m and 1000m on a straight course, with up to nine boats, each in a separate lane.

Races are in singles, doubles and fours, for both Canadian canoes and kayaks. The winner is whoever finishes in the fastest time.


There are two types of canoe used at the Olympics - the Canadian and the kayak.

Canadian canoes can be used for both sprint and slalom racing, and are paddled from a kneeling position using a single-bladed paddle.

Kayaks are propelled from a seated position, using a long, double-bladed paddle. They also have a rudder for sprint racing.


If you want to get into canoeing, why not get in touch with British Canoe Union? They'll put you in touch with your nearest club.

British Canoe Union
18 Market Place
NG13 8AP

Phone: 0845 370 9500

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