Wildwater Canoeing is a discipline of canoe racing, also known as Wildwater Racing and Whitewater Racing. Within Wildwater racing, there is two categories; Sprint Wildwater Racing and Classic Wildwater Racing. As the name suggests, participants must tackle whitewater and rapids as they race against the clock to get to the finish line. Wildwater has been around for over 60 years. The very first world Championships took place in 1959, on the river Vezere in France.
In Western Australia, our biggest wildwater event is the Avon decent. While there are many different kinds of craft that compete, there is a category for wildwater boats and many top athletes have travelled to Perth to compete.
A Sprint race is usually 200 – 600 metres long and contains at least one major rapid. The competitor that completes the course in fastest time wins. The Sprint is a relatively new edition to the sport, however it has become quite popular in a short amount of time. The short nature of the Sprint event means that Wildwater is able to share artificial whitewater courses with Canoe Slalom athletes.
The image above is a birdseye-view of a manmade course in Pau, France. The course is very popular for the sport and is used nearly every season for the World Cup circuit.
The classic was the original event in the sport and is similar to the sprint in that it is a timed event with a clear start and finish point. The difference is that the Classic is much longer. The race can be anywhere from two kilometres to six kilometres. As the event is much longer in duration, athletes also have more rapids to negotiate before the finish line.
Within the sport, there is several different kind of boats that you can paddle. Below is a brief description of the different boat classes available to athletes. Within each boat class there is male and female categories.
Wildwater Kayak or K1
The athlete uses a wing blade paddle that has two blades. Athlete sits in the boat with legs forward and presses knees up into the top edges of the boat for stability and control.
Wildwater Canoe or C1
This paddle is one sided and has a flat blade. Despite there only being one side to the paddle, the athlete can use the paddle on both sides. Athlete is kneeling in the boat and therefore the boat is wider to compensate for stability.
Wildwater Double Canoe or C2
Two athletes work together to control the boat through rough water. Using one sided paddles, the pair compliments each other by paddling on opposite sides of the boat. Like in the C1, both paddlers are kneeling.
To find out more about Wildwater Kayaking click here