What is Sprint Canoeing?
Rather than racing down rapids or white-water, sprint canoeists compete on flat water. They race head-to-head in a straight line over 1000, 500 and 200m. Each paddler races in his own lane and a typical regatta course has 9 lanes.
What's the difference between kayaking and canoeing?
In Britain, we tend to use the word "canoeing" to describe any kind of paddle sport. But at the Olympics, "canoeing" refers to the discipline where you kneel up in the boat and stroke on one side using a single-bladed paddle. "Kayaking", on the other hand, is where you sit down in the boat and use a double-bladed paddle to stroke on both sides. A canoe is generally open where as a kayak is more enclosed. So although we technically paddle kayaks, we quite often say "I'm going canoeing".
What are the different disciplines?
Single Kayak (K1), Double Kayak (K2), Four-man Kayak (K4), Single Canoe (C1), Double Canoe (C2), Four-man Canoe (C4). A handful of K3s do exist, but are very rarely manufactured and only paddled or raced for fun.
Which events are contested at the Olympic Games?
Men: K1 1000m, K2 1000m, K4 1000m, K1 200m, K2 200m, C1 1000m, C2 1000m
Women: K1 500m, K2 500m, K4 500m, K1 200m.
How fast can sprint kayaks go?
The world record for the Men's K1 200m - the fastest individual race - is 34.627 seconds.(That's 20.8km/hour, or 13mph.) This is held by GB's Ed McKeever so he can, I suppose, claim to be the fastest paddler in the world, ever. The world record for the Men's K4 (the fastest craft) 1000m is 2:47.734 (21.5km/hour) and the Men's K4 200m record is 29.023 seconds (24.8km/hour).
Tell me a bit about the craft...
Top specification race boats are high-tech, very unstable and made from carbon fibre. A sprint K1 is 5.2m (17ft) long and must weigh at least 12kg to be allowed to race. It has a small rudder at the rear to aid turning and to help keep the boat in a straight line. This is controlled by moving a small tiller bar between your feet. Kayaks come in different sizes depending on how much the paddler weighs.
Keen to try Canoeing or Kayaking?
The British Canoe Union has just launched a brilliant new website called Go Canoeing, which helps you find clubs, events, canoe trails, guided tours and starter sessions near you.