Getting Started Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

What is River Racing?

Well in fact, river racing is also known as wild water racing, wacky racing, wildwater canoeing and down river racing.

They all refer to the same thing, which has been given a little intro already. River Racing involves going down a river on timed runs in as fast a possible time as you can, without stopping.

A Sprint race has two short runs where the best time counts. The Classic race is a single run, of a longer distance – usually 10-15 minutes in length.

How do I find a local race?

Have a look at the race calendar on the WWR website, the rivers guide gives an idea of what the rivers are like, many of the guides have video footage to give a better idea of what to expect.

Do I need to spend a lot of money on equipment?

To start with – no, however try to buy a boat in reasonably good condition. This will reduce the maintenance in your first year(s) of competing. A solid composite boat will cost between £200 and £400, a good pair of paddles around £100 in pretty good condition.

You can use your current whitewater kit, and replace with more race oriented kit when it wears out (and you get more enthusiastic!).

The second hand market is very strong for wildwater racers, so resale value on a new boat is pretty good.

Why are wildwater racers that strange shape?

What boat can I use?

This is the great thing, initially you can race in pretty much any type of boat. That’s including plastic boats, playboats, slalom boats etc. As my handy tip the longer the playboat you can find the more efficient you shall be at going as fast as possible. There is of course an actual river racer and its plastic sister the wavehopper. So for your first race, there are no excuses.

Do I need to buy a composite boat?

To compete at higher levels a composite boat is recommended. It is faster and more responsive than a wavehopper.

When should I switch to a composite boat?

When you are comfortable in a wavehopper, have a go in a composite. If you have aspirations of going faster, switch to a composite boat sooner rather than later.

What should I wear?

Depends on weather, typically, when on the river, you must wear a CE approved helmet and buoyancy aid. A paddle is always useful, and of course a boat. Then of course a spray deck, or splash deck or, as I call it, a drip tray, that way it keeps out all the drips and keeps you nice and warm as well as prevents water coming into your boat. Thermal clothes can add warmth in winter and lots of warm dry clothes to wear between runs. Spare dry paddling kit can be an advantage to change into between practice runs and race runs.

What standard do I need to be?

It is recommended that you are of 3 star standard, as for most instances you are racing down a river on your own. However, if not and still want to try get in contact with your local club to try it out under supervision.

What skills to I need?

Wildwater racing is a blend of skills from 3 areas:

1. Flatwater skills – the ability to execute a good froward stroke, to propel the boat quickly and effiicently. Additionally the ability to train well, to improve your conditioning to perform and enjoy WWR more.

2. Core whitewater skills – the ability to read and understand water, and to execute strokes to propel the boat in WW.

3. Core wildwater racing skills – the ability to take the core flatwater and whitewater skills, and apply them to a wildwater racer.

The wildwater racing manual provides a great resource of information on the skills required, and how to develop them.

What do I have to do in the race?

Have fun, enjoy the experience and try and go as fast as you possible can from the time you cross the start line to the time to cross the finish. The start and finish line are always made quite obvious by the person who either will call you to the start, or shouts or whistles that you have finished.

Race Types

There are three main types of wildwater races in the UK. National, Regional and Wavehopper.

National Races

The top tier of races are run on more testing water. Depending upon the water level the rivers can be suitable for intermediate level paddlers, but at higher water levels the courses will often require advanced skill levels. Natural and artificial courses are used. National level races are run over both sprint and classic formats.

Regional Races

Regional races are the best races to start on in wildwater racing. The level of the courses will range from really easy introductory to quite testing.