Development Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

My club wants to learn more about WWR – what courses are available?

There is a WWR discipline support module designed exactly for this purpose. It covers all the basic skills for wildwater racing and will get you up and running. Contact coaching@wildwater.org.uk to arrange a course to be run at your club.

Are there British Canoeing Personal Performance awards for WWR?

Yes, the new British Canoeing personal performance awards are available for Wildwater Racing. The Explore, perform and Excel awards are available in WWR.

What information is available to help?

You are in the right place to ask this question! The Wildwater Racing Manual is a key resource of information that has been created from the experiences of National Coaches. It addresses key skills, drills and information. The other major resource of information is the “Danger Zone” book written by legendary US coach Bill Endicott. It is a little dated now, but the core of the information is still valid and the case studies still enthuse athletes – it is called “The Bible” for a reason!

What sort of experience do I need?

The great thing about Wildwater Racing is that a paddler with any background can be successful. As wildwater racing requires a blend of flatwater, whitewater, psychological and organisational skills – many athletes from very different backgrounds and physiques have flourished.

Great Britain has had world medalists from flatwater, playboating, slalom and paddlers that have started directly into WWR. Each has brought their own strengths, and have worked on areas they were weaker in to become world level paddlers. The WWR manual has more details on the skills/attributes that are needed for WWR.

What rivers should I try?

Big question – it depends upon your skill level, and you location. In conjunction with your coach or a local mentor you can select a river which is appropriate for you.

If you have good whitewater skills then starting on intermediate level water would be appropriate. Have a look at the rivers guide for an indication of the difficulty of rivers.

I’m a playboater with good WW skills – what should I do?

You have the core WW skills, understanding of whitewater which is great.
The next step would be to have a go in a whitewater boat on some easy or flatwater, and then have a go on an easy river. Moving on from that, you may need to spend some training time in the whitewater racer, improving your forward paddling technique and conditioning.
Contact your local WWR club to find out more about having a go at the great sport of wildwater racing.

I’m a slalom paddler with good WW skills – what should I do to have a go?

As a slalom paddler you have well developed wildwater skills, and an understanding of wildwater which is a great asset.
The next steps are to have a go in a wildwater racer on some easy water to see if you like it, and then you can select a more challenging piece of water to have a go at. One of the intermediate rivers would be a good entry point for someone who is confident in WW.
The wildwater racing stroke is a little different from the slalom stroke, as you are able to utilise your back and legs a lot more in a WWR boat. Some training in the wildwater boat at a WWR or flatwater club will be beneficial to be able to develop a stronger forward technique. You may develop skills that will be of advantage to you when going back to the slalom boat. Wildwater racing is great for winter conditioning work and for forward paddling technique.

I’m a flatwater paddler with no WW skills – what should I do to have a go?

As a paddler with a flatwater background you will have very strong skills in forward paddle technique. The wildwater racing boat requires a little adaptation from the pure flatwater technique – but overall it is very similar.
As a paddler without WW skills, getting an understanding of how rivers work will be key. Have a go in a wildwater racer on flatwater to see how you like it, and to understand how to steer the boat in easy water.
You can have a go on some very easy whitewater, and the British Canoeing awards will help a lot to assist you in getting a better understanding of rivers.

I’m new to canoeing – I’d like to have a go at Wildwater Racing

Great to hear you are are keen to have a go at this great sport. The best bet is to find a local club who can teach you the basics of canoeing first, see the British Canoeing website for details of your local club. The British Canoeing awards are a good place to start. You can then have a go in a wildwater racer in easy or flat water to see how you like it.

I’m an experienced sea kayaker – what should I do to have a go?

As an experienced sea kayaker you have a number of key skills that will be directly transferrable to the wildwater racing boat. It should feel pretty familiar in terms of how to steer the boat, probably just a bit more unstable than your sea kayak.
Find a local club, and have a go in a wildwater boat on some easy water to see how you like it, you can of course always take it out on the sea as well! The intermediate level rivers will probably be the best choices for your skill level.
You will probably benefit from some training in the wildwater boat on flatwater to improve your forward paddling technique in the WW boat. Lessons learned here will transfer back into the sea kayak pretty well also.


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