Useful Information
Getting Started
Recreational Canoeing
Competitive Canoeing
Canoeing Providers
Grades of Water


BackrestA strap that supports your back when you’re sitting in a kayak.
BacksurfSurfing backwards, when your stern’s pointing down the wave.
BCUBritish Canoe Union – the national governing body for canoeing in the UK.
BreakA spot which forms ocean surf waves to form.
Buoyancy aidUsually a vest or jacket, a buoyancy aid is made from foam and helps you float so you can rescue yourself more easily. It differs from a lifejacket in that it will not keep your head above water if you’re unconscious.
CANICanoe Association of Northern Ireland.
CanoeA generic term for boats without rudders propelled by paddles. A more specific meaning is a boat that is knelt in and propelled by a single bladed paddle.
CapsizeWhen a canoe turns completely upside down.
Carbon fibreOften used to make paddles, helmets and competition boats, carbon is light and stiff, but also quite expensive and can be fragile.
CartwheelA playboating move where the boat spins round the paddler in the vertical plane.
CarveOne of the best ways to move around a wave is to use a boat’s rails to carve around.
CoachA canoeing instructor.
CockpitThe hole through which you get into your canoe.
CreekboatA round, blunt boat that’s designed to make steep and difficult drops safer.
CreekingRiver paddling which involves steep technical rivers.
EarplugsOften worn by paddlers to keep water out of their ears and so prevent any hearing loss that may occur from repeated flushes of cold water.
Eskimo rollA means of righting a boat after a capsize using a paddle and a strong hip flick
FeatherThe angle at which kayak paddles are opposed to each other
FinsUsed on surf kayak and making their way onto playboats, fins help paddlers to carve hard when they’re surfing.
Flat spinA basic freestyle move that can be performed in a wave or hole.
Flat waterA body of water with no rapids in it – lakes or slow moving rivers.
FloodFlood conditions can make a normally easy river very dangerous.
FreestyleThe competitive discipline of playboating.
GateTwo poles hung over a river during a slalom competition. The course will pass through all the gates.
GradeA system for categorising the difficulties of a rapid.
HaslerThe divisional system used for UK marathon racing. Division 9 is the slowest category while Div 1 is the fastest.
HatchA waterproof way of accessing storage areas in sea or touring kayaks.
HaystackA very steep wave.
HelmetWorn to protect your head from rocks, paddles and other bad things. It’s essential that you helmet fits well and covers your forehead.
High PerformanceA class of surf boat in competitions that’s shorter and rewards more varied moves than international class.
HoleA water feature where water moving downstream is countered by water rushing back upstream to meet it.
HotdoggingAnother word for freestyle.
HypaionThe rubber that a raft’s made from.
International classA long, fast surf boat class that’s recognised in competitions.
KayakA type of canoe which is sat in and propelled with a double bladed paddle.
KevlarA hard wearing material that is very strong and light. Often used in competition boats and helmets.
LeptospirosisA rare but serious illness that can be picked up from rat’s urine in river and lake water.
LightningPyranha’s plastic marathon/sprint boat for children and small paddlers.
Loop/air loopA freestyle move where a paddler pulls a forwards somersault in a hole.
NoseclipsOften worn by playboaters to keep water out of their noses.
OverfallSee ‘tidal race’.
Park and huckDestination creek boating. This involves parking in one place and paddling one waterfall or rapid without travelling too far downriver.
Park and playDestination playboating. This involves parking on one place and playboating on specific feature without travelling downstream.
PinWhen a boat is stuck against something in a river. Pinning against rocks or trees can be dangerous if you’re underwater at the time.
PlayboatingUsing river features to pull off acrobatic tricks in a boat.
PlayspotA location that’s particularly suitable for playboating, usually a wave or hole.
PoloCanoe polo is a team game where five paddlers on each team have to score goals by throwing the ball through the opposing team’s net.
PortageEither the act of carrying your boat around a rapid or obstruction or something that you choose to portage.
RaftAn inflatable boat which can be taken down whitewater rivers.
RapidCaused when a river flows downhill, the steeper the gradient the more difficult the rapid.
RudderUsually fitted to the back of a marathon or sprint boat and controlled by a foot pedal or foot operated steering bar.
SCAScottish Canoeing Associations.
SkiffleDisturbance caused by water flowing over shallow shingle beds on a riverbed.
SlalomA discipline of canoeing that involves competitions racing through a series of gates hung over a river.
SpateA river which has been brought up to flood levels by heavy rain.
Spray deckA neoprene flap that paddlers wear round their waists and fit into their boat’s cockpit.
Squirta) A move where a boat is stood vertically on its stern
b) A type of paddling that involves paddling a very low volume boat that’s designed to use river currents to sink the entire boat and its paddler below the water’s surface – the Mystery Move.
Star testThe personal skills certifications awarded by the BCU. 1* is introductory whereas 5* certifies advanced leadership.
StopperA more severe hole. Stoppers can hold canoes or swimmers in them if they’re particularly bad.
Surfa) Riding the face of a wave in a kayak. The force of gravity pulling the kayak down the wave is countered by the speed of the wave pushing it up the wave.
b) A discipline of kayaking that concentrates on riding ocean waves.
TandemA canoe paddled by two people
T-gripThe end of a canoe paddle that isn’t a blade.
ThrowlineA bag full of floating line that cab be thrown to a paddler or swimmer in difficulty.
Tidal raceA type of rapid caused when tides force water through a gap or over shallows, causing turbulence.
Vertical movesPlayboating moves which involve standing the kayak on one end.
WaterfallFormed when water flows over a vertical drop. An integral part of creeking.
WaveFound on a river or in the sea, waves are often surfable in a boat.
WaveskiA surfboard that you sit on top of and use a paddle to control.
WCAWelsh Canoeing Association.
Well’s diseaseAn advanced case of Leptospirosis.
WeirA man made structure that backs water into a pool above it. Can often form a dangerous stopper below it.
WetsuitMore popular with rafters than with canoeists, wetsuits are made from neoprene rubber and keep the wearer warm even when they’re wet.
WhitewaterThe features that form on steep rivers, including rapids and waterfalls.
WingsFlatwater and Wild Water racing paddles with a a pronounced lip along the top of the paddles to stop water spilling.
Enjoyed this site? Why not check out...
Outdoor NILocal OutdoorsWalk NICycle NIMTB NIDiscover Northern IrelandFacebookTwitter
Copyright © Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland Contact Us Privacy Policy Disclaimer
Home Canoe Trails Habe a Go Events Canoe Hire Guided Trips Useful Info