Canoe sprint

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Canoe sprint is a sport in which athletes race canoes or kayaks on calm water.



Race categories vary by the number of athletes in the boat, the length of the course, and whether the boat is a canoe or kayak. Canoe sprints are sometimes referred to as flat water racing. The distances recognized by the ICF for international canoe sprint races are 200m, 500m, and 1000m. These races take place on straight courses with each boat paddling in its own designated lane. Longer marathon races do exist, notably the 5000m (also an ICF-recognized distance) – these usually have athletes starting in a large pack at a start line before paddling around a set course with marked turning points (there are no assigned lanes). For each race a number of heats, semi-finals and a final may be necessary, depending on the number of competitors.

The sport is governed by the International Canoe Federation. The International Canoe Federation is the worldwide canoeing organization and creates the standard rules for the different disciplines of canoe/kayak competition. The ICF recognizes several competitive and non-competitive disciplines of canoeing, of which Sprint and Slalom are the only two competing in the Olympic games.

On the whole, Europe has dominated the sport, winning over 90% of all available medals. [1]

The official boats recognized by the ICF as 'International Boats' are: K1, K2, K4, C1, C2 and C4, where the number indicates the number of paddlers, “K” stands for kayak and “C” for canoe. [2] The ICF rules for these boats define, among others, the maximum length, the minimum weight and the shape of the boats – for instance, a K1 must be 520 cm long and weighs at least 8 kg for marathons or 12 kg for sprints. Originally, width (beam) restrictions were also enforced; these were revoked in 2000, spurring a flurry of innovations in boat designs. Modern boats are usually made of carbon fiber, aramid fiber (e.g., Kevlar) with epoxy resin, or variants of high-performance fiber-glass.


In a kayak, the paddler is seated in the direction of travel, and uses a double-bladed paddle. Kayaks have a rudder for steering and course adjustment, which is operated by the feet of the paddler in the front. The paddle used is usually a 'wing paddle' (although standard asymmetrical paddles can also be used) – wing paddles have blades which are shaped to resemble a wing or spoon, creating lift and increasing the power and stability of the stroke. There are many variations of wing paddles, ranging from longer and narrower options for more stability throughout the entire stroke to more extreme 'teardrop' shaped paddles for a firmer application of power at the start of the stroke.


In a canoe the paddler kneels on one knee with the other leg forward and foot flat on the floor of the boat, and paddles a single-bladed paddle on one side only with what is known as a 'J-stroke' to control the boat's direction. [3] In Canada, a racing class exists for the C-15 or WC or "War Canoe", as well as a similarly designed C-4 (which is much shorter and more squat than an 'International' C-4). An antiquated boat class is the C-7, resembling a large C4 which was debuted by the ICF with little success. For racing canoes, the blade is typically short and broad, with a 'power face' on one side that is either flat or scalloped out. The shaft will typically be longer than a tripping canoe paddle, because the kneeling position puts the paddler higher above the surface of the water. More recent designs of canoe racing paddles often have a slight bent shaft, commonly 12–14 degrees. (a concept of canoe designer Eugene Jensen in the 1960s). Many high-performance canoe paddlers prefer the feel of a wooden handle with a carbon fiber shaft and blade, while nearly all high-performance kayak paddlers use paddles made completely of carbon fiber.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Canoe Light boat that is paddled

A canoe is a lightweight narrow vessel, typically pointed at both ends and open on top, propelled by one or more seated or kneeling paddlers facing the direction of travel and using a single-bladed paddle.

Paddle Tool for propelling a boat or mixing liquids

A paddle is a tool used for pushing against liquids, either as a form of propulsion of a boat (paddling) or as an implement for mixing.

A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft originating from the Pearl River Delta region of China's southern Guangdong Province. These were made of teak, but in other parts of China, different kinds of wood are used. It is one of a family of traditional paddled long boats found throughout Asia, Africa, the Pacific islands, and Puerto Rico. The sport of dragon boat racing has its roots in an ancient folk ritual of contending villagers, which dates back 2000 years throughout southern China, and even further to the original games of Olympia in ancient Greece. Both dragon boat racing and the ancient Olympiad included aspects of religious observances and community celebrations, along with competition.

Canoeing Activity of paddling a canoe

Canoeing is an activity which involves paddling a canoe with a single-bladed paddle. Common meanings of the term are limited to when the canoeing is the central purpose of the activity. Broader meanings include when it is combined with other activities such as canoe camping, or where canoeing is merely a transportation method used to accomplish other activities. Most present-day canoeing is done as or as a part of a sport or recreational activity. In some parts of Europe canoeing refers to both canoeing and kayaking, with a canoe being called an open canoe.

Whitewater kayaking Type of water sport

Whitewater kayaking is a recreational outdoor activity which uses a kayak to navigate a river or other body of whitewater or rough water.

Wildwater canoeing

Wildwater canoeing is a competitive discipline of canoeing in which kayaks or canoes are used to negotiate a stretch of river speedily. It is also called "Whitewater racing" or "Downriver racing" to distinguish it from whitewater slalom racing and whitewater rodeo or Freestyle competition.

Canoe slalom Discipline in sport of canoeing and kayaking, to navigate through a course of hanging gates on river rapids

Canoe 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. It is one of the two kayak and canoeing disciplines at the Summer Olympics, and is referred to by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as Canoe/Kayak Slalom. The other Olympic canoeing discipline is canoe sprint. Wildwater canoeing is a non-Olympic paddlesport.

Surf ski Light boat that is paddled

A surfski is a type of kayak in the kayaking "family" of paddling craft. It is generally the longest of all kayaks and is a performance oriented kayak designed for speed on open water. The distinguishing characteristic of a surfski is that it is primarily used for performance paddling in open water, most commonly the ocean, although it is well suited to all bodies of water and recreational paddling. The most common use of surfskis is in surf lifesaving competitions and downwind paddling.

Sprint canoe

A sprint canoe is a canoe used in International Canoe Federation canoe sprint. It is an open boat propelled by one, two or four paddlers from a kneeling position, using single-bladed paddles. The difficulty of balance can depend on how wide or narrow the canoe is, although regularly the less contact a canoe has with the water the faster it goes. This makes the narrower boats much faster and popular when it comes to racing.

The ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships are an international event in canoe racing, one of two Summer Olympic sport events organized by the International Canoe Federation. The World Championships have taken place every non-Olympic year since 1970 and officially included paracanoe events since 2010; since 2012, paracanoe-specific editions of this event have been held in Summer Paralympic years.

War canoe

A war canoe is a watercraft of the canoe type designed and outfitted for warfare, and which is found in various forms in many world cultures. In modern times, such designs have become adapted as a sport, and "war canoe" can mean a type of flatwater racing canoe.

Sprint kayak

Sprint kayak is a sport held on calm water. The paddler is seated, facing forward, and uses a double-bladed paddle pulling the blade through the water on alternate sides to propel the boat forward. Kayak sprint has been in every summer olympics since it debuted at the 1936 Summer Olympics. Racing is governed by the International Canoe Federation.

Canoe marathon

Canoe marathon is a paddling sport in which athletes paddle a kayak or canoe over a long distance to the finish line. While the International Canoe Federation states the standard distances are up to 30 km, many races are significantly longer. Many events are raced down sections of river, including currents or portages around obstacles. Some events attract thousands of competitors and are staged over several days.

Outline of canoeing and kayaking Overview of and topical guide to canoeing and kayaking

The following outline is provided as an overview of canoeing and kayaking:

ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships is an International Canoe Federation competitions in canoe marathon in which athletes compete over long distances. The race usually starts and ends at the same place, and includes portages. Race categories vary by the number of athletes in the boat, the length of the course, and whether the boat is a canoe or kayak. In a kayak, the paddler is seated in the direction of travel, and uses a double-bladed paddle. In a canoe the paddler kneels on one knee with the other leg forward and foot flat on the floor inside the boat, and paddles a single-bladed paddle on one side only. The World Championships were held every two years from 1988, becoming annual in 1998.

Paracanoe is canoeing for athletes with a range of physical disabilities. The Paralympic version of the sport is governed by the International Canoe Federation (ICF), and a va'a-specific variant is governed by the International Va'a Federation (IVF).

The 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, the 43rd edition of the World Championships, were held in Račice, Czech Republic, from 23 to 27 August 2017.

The 2016 ICF Paracanoe World Championships was held in Duisburg, Germany, from 17 to 19 May 2016. This event, which is usually part of the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, was held separately as the latter is not held in Olympic years. It shared the venue with, and was held concurrently with the 2016 European Canoe Sprint Olympic Qualifier tournament.

The 2018 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, the 44th edition of the World Championships, were held in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal, from 22 to 26 August 2018.

The 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, the 45th edition of the World Championships, were held in Szeged, Hungary from 21 to 25 August 2019.


  1. "What is sprint?" . Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  2. "Canoe Sprint". International Canoe Federation . Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  3. "Canoe sprint". ICF. Retrieved 26 April 2014.