Useful Information


Backrest A strap that supports your back when you’re sitting in a kayak.
Backsurf Surfing backwards, when your stern’s pointing down the wave.
BCU British Canoe Union – the national governing body for canoeing in the UK.
Break A spot which forms ocean surf waves to form.
Buoyancy aid Usually 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.
CANI Canoe Association of Northern Ireland.
Canoe A 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.
Capsize When a canoe turns completely upside down.
Carbon fibre Often used to make paddles, helmets and competition boats, carbon is light and stiff, but also quite expensive and can be fragile.
Cartwheel A playboating move where the boat spins round the paddler in the vertical plane.
Carve One of the best ways to move around a wave is to use a boat’s rails to carve around.
Coach A canoeing instructor.
Cockpit The hole through which you get into your canoe.
Creekboat A round, blunt boat that’s designed to make steep and difficult drops safer.
Creeking River paddling which involves steep technical rivers.
Earplugs Often 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 roll A means of righting a boat after a capsize using a paddle and a strong hip flick
Feather The angle at which kayak paddles are opposed to each other
Fins Used on surf kayak and making their way onto playboats, fins help paddlers to carve hard when they’re surfing.
Flat spin A basic freestyle move that can be performed in a wave or hole.
Flat water A body of water with no rapids in it – lakes or slow moving rivers.
Flood Flood conditions can make a normally easy river very dangerous.
Freestyle The competitive discipline of playboating.
Gate Two poles hung over a river during a slalom competition. The course will pass through all the gates.
Grade A system for categorising the difficulties of a rapid.
Hasler The divisional system used for UK marathon racing. Division 9 is the slowest category while Div 1 is the fastest.
Hatch A waterproof way of accessing storage areas in sea or touring kayaks.
Haystack A very steep wave.
Helmet Worn to protect your head from rocks, paddles and other bad things. It’s essential that you helmet fits well and covers your forehead.
High Performance A class of surf boat in competitions that’s shorter and rewards more varied moves than international class.
Hole A water feature where water moving downstream is countered by water rushing back upstream to meet it.
Hotdogging Another word for freestyle.
Hypaion The rubber that a raft’s made from.
International class A long, fast surf boat class that’s recognised in competitions.
Kayak A type of canoe which is sat in and propelled with a double bladed paddle.
Kevlar A hard wearing material that is very strong and light. Often used in competition boats and helmets.
Leptospirosis A rare but serious illness that can be picked up from rat’s urine in river and lake water.
Lightning Pyranha’s plastic marathon/sprint boat for children and small paddlers.
Loop/air loop A freestyle move where a paddler pulls a forwards somersault in a hole.
Noseclips Often worn by playboaters to keep water out of their noses.
Overfall See ‘tidal race’.
Park and huck Destination creek boating. This involves parking in one place and paddling one waterfall or rapid without travelling too far downriver.
Park and play Destination playboating. This involves parking on one place and playboating on specific feature without travelling downstream.
Pin When a boat is stuck against something in a river. Pinning against rocks or trees can be dangerous if you’re underwater at the time.
Playboating Using river features to pull off acrobatic tricks in a boat.
Playspot A location that’s particularly suitable for playboating, usually a wave or hole.
Polo Canoe 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.
Portage Either the act of carrying your boat around a rapid or obstruction or something that you choose to portage.
Raft An inflatable boat which can be taken down whitewater rivers.
Rapid Caused when a river flows downhill, the steeper the gradient the more difficult the rapid.
Rudder Usually fitted to the back of a marathon or sprint boat and controlled by a foot pedal or foot operated steering bar.
SCA Scottish Canoeing Associations.
Skiffle Disturbance caused by water flowing over shallow shingle beds on a riverbed.
Slalom A discipline of canoeing that involves competitions racing through a series of gates hung over a river.
Spate A river which has been brought up to flood levels by heavy rain.
Spray deck A neoprene flap that paddlers wear round their waists and fit into their boat’s cockpit.
Squirt a) 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 test The personal skills certifications awarded by the BCU. 1* is introductory whereas 5* certifies advanced leadership.
Stopper A more severe hole. Stoppers can hold canoes or swimmers in them if they’re particularly bad.
Surf a) 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.
Tandem A canoe paddled by two people
T-grip The end of a canoe paddle that isn’t a blade.
Throwline A bag full of floating line that cab be thrown to a paddler or swimmer in difficulty.
Tidal race A type of rapid caused when tides force water through a gap or over shallows, causing turbulence.
Vertical moves Playboating moves which involve standing the kayak on one end.
Waterfall Formed when water flows over a vertical drop. An integral part of creeking.
Wave Found on a river or in the sea, waves are often surfable in a boat.
Waveski A surfboard that you sit on top of and use a paddle to control.
WCA Welsh Canoeing Association.
Well’s disease An advanced case of Leptospirosis.
Weir A man made structure that backs water into a pool above it. Can often form a dangerous stopper below it.
Wetsuit More popular with rafters than with canoeists, wetsuits are made from neoprene rubber and keep the wearer warm even when they’re wet.
Whitewater The features that form on steep rivers, including rapids and waterfalls.
Wings Flatwater and Wild Water racing paddles with a a pronounced lip along the top of the paddles to stop water spilling.
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