An Introduction to Canoeing

Canoeing Marathon
Canoeing is a versatile sport that encompasses activities from competitive racing and whitewater challenges to leisurely paddling with friends and family. Anyone interested in pursuing canoeing as a sport or a hobby should begin by gaining a basic understanding of canoeing including the skills and equipment required. The skills and equipment needed will in large part depend o­n the type of canoeing the individual pursues.

Competitive racing and whitewater paddling will require more specialized skills and equipment. A racing canoe will often be longer and less maneuverable that typical canoes. These canoes place an emphasis o­n moving quickly through the water in a straight line. Efficient paddling and working in coordination with your partner are the most important skills for racing. Whitewater canoes o­n the other hand are most often short canoes with curved bottoms, called rocker, and are built for maneuverability. These come in solo or tandem models. For whitewater canoeing safety equipment including a helmet and a lifejacket are essential and an understanding of river hydraulics and the ability to use various paddling techniques to quickly adjust the canoe's position are very important.

For someone more interested in canoeing as a leisurely hobby or as a relaxing family outing in nature the equipment requires less specialization and is generally less expensive. Further, while safety is always important, the skills required for a canoe trip o­n a slower river or calm lake can be easily acquired by people of all ages in a short time. A couple of basic concepts to keep in mind for beginning canoeists is that the canoe will move in the opposite direction a person paddles, and the person in the back has greater control.