Getting Started FAQ

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 times are added together. The Classic race is a single run, of a longer distance - usually 15-20 minutes in length.

What type of events should I start with?

The events that will be suitable for less experienced paddlers and those having a go at wildwater racing for the first time are:

  • The Regional series - a set of races in your local area, usually on great entry level water
  • The Wavehopper series - A national series of races specifically for the Wavehopper polythene boat, on relatively easy water

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 do I have to do to prepare?

The recommendation is to try and increase your fitness, increase the number of paddling sessions you currently do. Also to practice paddling the boat you wish to race in.

A good recommendation is to check your equipment, make sure it is all water tight and if in doubt speak to the race organiser. That way you can confirm where the start of the race are, best way to get there, (if you are unsure). Etc…