Canoe racing

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Single kayaks in the race at the 2003 German Canoe Racing Championships

Canoe racing is a water sport in which you canoe a fixed distance on a still body of water as quickly as possible .

The canoeists compete against each other on tracks marked with buoys or on a circuit (long distance only). The canoeist who crosses the finish line first with his boat (more precisely: with the front stem of the canoe) wins the race.

Natural waters such as lakes and rivers with low currents or artificially created regatta courses come into question as competition courses. To improve the starting conditions are starting systems are used.


K-1 on the Garonne River in Toulouse
Women C1

The boats are divided into the categories Canadier (C) and Kayak (K) as well as classes according to the number of athletes in the boat. For these boats there are regulations regarding length, weight and shape.

Boat classes
genus class Abbreviation Max. length min. Weight
kayak One K1 520 cm 12 kg
two K2 650 cm 18 kg
four K4 1100 cm 30 kg
Canadians One C1 520 cm 14 kg
two C2 650 cm 20 kg
four C4 900 cm 30 kg
Eighth C8 1100 cm

The Canadier-Achter (C8) is a national boat class in Germany.

The hulls must be convex (curved outwards) in the longitudinal and transverse directions . In the past, a minimum width and height were required. This led to more and more adventurous constructions (for example "wings"). The elimination of the minimum width in 2002 and the minimum height in 2004 opened up new possibilities for boat builders to optimize boat shapes.

Limiting provisions are the convex shape mentioned above; In addition, the drivers need in the boat sit or kneel (not on the boat, such as when Surfski ) may be, and the highest point of the boat, the seat must hatch the front edge.

In racing kayak athletes sit on a panel-mounted boat, adjustable seat and are supported with their feet on the stretcher . The boat is steered with a control fin located in the stern , which is operated with a foot control . The seat hatch is closed with a spray deck to prevent splashing water from entering the boat.

In the racing Canadier you kneel. The racing canoe has no steering system, it is steered by the canoeist by turning the paddle. It is open at the top. Canoeing races were traditionally only contested by men; women canoeing races were officially included in the world championship program for the first time in 2010.


The kayak is driven while seated with a double paddle that is used alternately. The athletes try not to pull with their arms as much as possible, but rather to apply force to the paddle by rotating the upper body. This torso rotation is reinforced by footwork, alternating stretching and bending of the legs.

In the Canadier, the athletes kneel with one knee on a pillow or block made of rigid foam , which is called a knee block . The boat is moved forward with a paddle that is used on one side (on the side on which the athlete kneels). Due to the high center of gravity and the very small width of the boat (approx. 30-40 cm in C1), the boat is relatively unstable and a good sense of balance is required to control the boat. The control is carried out by a control stroke, in which the paddle is turned to the side at the end of the stroke and is thus used as a resistance for steering.

The stroke frequency and top speed are lower in a canoe than in a kayak, as a relatively long distance through the air has to be covered when lifting the paddle out. Because the Canadier has a higher center of gravity and the boat is narrower, it is more unstable than a kayak.


Regattas are held on different levels. In addition to the local regattas, which are organized by clubs, there are national, regional and German championships. The German Canoe Association defines the boat and performance classes as well as the length of the routes for official competitions in the national competition regulations. State championships do not have to be held, so they do not exist in every federal state. At the regional championships, Germany is divided into north, east, south and west. The nine best athletes from the regional championships qualify for the German championships.

Qualification regattas for the German national team take place every year. The athletes selected there represent Germany at international regattas, world championships and the Olympic Games . The International Canoe Federation (ICF) is responsible for most of the international regattas. Three world cups and one world championship take place every year. With a point system, overall winners can be determined over these four competitions every year. There are also annual European championships as well as separate European and world championships for juniors and U23 athletes. The world championships are canceled in the Olympic years.

Olympic disciplines

Not all disciplines participate in the Olympic Games. In addition, the disciplines have recently been changed. One reason for this is equality, so the male disciplines are reduced to the essentials in order to have space for more female disciplines. In addition, the sprint course, which generally came later in canoe racing, was included in 2012 in order to expand the group of participants and avoid double starts.

Olympic disciplines
Years stretch Men Women
1964-2008 200 m
500 m K1, K2 C1, C2 K1, K2, K4
1000 m K1, K2, K4 C1, C2
2012-2016 200 m K1, K2 C1 K1
500 m K1, K2, K4
1000 m K1, K2, K4 C1, C2
2020 200 m K1 K1 C1
500 m K4 K1, K4 C2
1000 m K1, K2 C1, C2 K2

Until 1960 there were also relay races in which four boats per team started one after the other in opposite directions. The route length was 500 m in each case.

Performance classes

In order to give the athletes the opportunity to compete with their peers, the competitions are divided into performance classes. In addition to the basic distinction between women and men, the races start in the following classes:

  • Student D (under 7 years)
  • Student C (7 to 9 years old)
  • Student B (10 to 12 years)
  • Student A (13 to 14 years)
  • Youth (15 to 16 years)
  • Juniors (17 to 18 years old)
  • Performance class (from 19 years)
  • Senior A (32 to 39 years)
  • Seniors B (40 to 49 years)
  • Seniors C (from 50 years)
  • Seniors D (from 60 years)

Year races can also be held up to the student A area.

In addition to age, success is also a criterion. In the performance class (LK) it is possible to run separate races in LK I and LK II. A classification of the athletes in the less powerful LK II takes place after negative fulfillment of criteria (e.g. no victory in German championships or other regattas of category A in the previous year). On the other hand, if you win such a competition, you are automatically upgraded to LK I after the end of the competition.


In the competitions, races can be rated over the following routes:

  • Sprint distance 200 m
  • Short distance 500 m
  • Middle distance 1000 m
  • Long distance 2000 m (for female and male students A)
  • Long distance 5000 m

Route lengths of over 10,000 are part of the canoe marathon .

Since 2010 there has also been a canoe all-around competition for all ages up to and including A-class students. There are several varying individual disciplines, which are added together and give an overall result. The following is done in a canoe competition:

  • 100 m flying, for A-students and B-students
  • 500 m for C-students, B-students
  • 1000 m for A-students
  • 1000 m run
  • Shock Medball
  • either rope jump or standing long jump


Training for this sport is usually offered in local sports clubs. Wherever existing bodies of water permit (rivers, lakes, canals) there are often canoeing clubs .

In addition to the direct training in the boat, which trains the technique and endurance of the canoe racers, various elements of the sports running and strength training are used to develop the canoeist's body and avoid one-sided stress. In winter, when most of the Central European waters are frozen over, many canoeing clubs do indoor sports or train on special paddle ergometers. In order to counteract an overly one-sided development of the muscles, we recommend compensatory training that accompanies the entire training process.

Biomechanics of canoe racing

The interrelationships between the movement of the canoeist, the boat and paddle movement depending on both hydro- and aerodynamic properties as well as causal driving forces and water movement is the subject of the biomechanics of canoe racing. The global goal is to find solutions that lead to high movement speeds with maximum energy transformation and lowest energy losses.

See also

Web links

Commons : Canoe Racing  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Canoe racing  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Competition regulations of the DKV from 25./26. April 2009 ( Memento from December 15, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), point 2.1.2