Wildwater Canoeing (also called whitewater racing or downriver racing) is a kayaking and canoeing sport in which kayaks or canoes are used to negotiate a natural stretch of river including rapids as fast as possible. There is also the related sport of Extreme Racing which involves paddling a sturdier kayak down a section of higher-class whitewater.
Wildwater canoeing is different from whitewater slalom racing conducted on shorter man-made courses in which competitors also have to negotiate through gates, and canoe freestyle or playboating in which the athletes perform various moves in a fixed place in the rapids called the playspot.
Wildwater canoeing races are typically held on Class II - IV whitewater. Competitors usually compete in both sprint (over 500-750m) and classic races (over 6–10 km).
There are competitions for males and females, in single kayaks and canoes, as well as tandem canoes.
Another whitewater canoeing event is boater-cross (boaterX), with kayakers racing head-to-head (like in canoe extreme slalom) along natural rapids usually with no gates to negotiate.
There are specific boats designed for wildwater canoing or extreme racing. The boats have a rounded hull profile, making them fast but relatively unstable and hard to turn.
The modern wildwater boats are constructed from kevlar, carbon fiber, and glass-reinforced plastic which are lighter and stronger than previous boat designs.
Competitors are required to wear a helmet, a flotation device, wet shoes and have flotation bags for their boats.
- Canoe Slalom — a kayaking and canoeing sport in which athletes use a kayak or canoe to navigate through a course that consists of hanging gates on river rapids.
- Extreme Canoe Slalom — a fast-paced kakayaking sport in which four athletes race each other on a whitewater course through up and downstream gates whilst also completing an eskimo roll.
- Canoe Freestyle / Playboating — a whitewater sport in which athletes on kayaks or canoes perform various moves in a fixed place called the playspot.
- Rafting — the objective is to navigate downstream on river rapids using an inflated raft.
- Kayaking — boat races using a small, narrow boat propelled using a double-bladed paddle.
- Canoeing — paddle sport in which the rider kneels or sits facing forward in a canoe.
- Kayaking at the Summer Olympics
- About Paddling Sports
- Complete list of sports
- The Encyclopedia of Sports