Wildwater is all about getting down the river the fastest way possible. There’s no time for sightseeing amid the course features and flooding whitewater. Pick your lines for the fastest water and most direct route, and look out for the obstacles.
Pick your line and plunge down the river
Boats are 4 to 5 metres long with lots of volume in them for increased buoyancy. Paddlers use a double bladed kayak paddle for K1 events in which they are seated in the boat. A single bladed canoe paddle for C1 and C2 in which paddlers kneel on both knees. Boats have no rudders and the paddler steers with the paddle and by shifting body weight. Spray decks keep the water from filling the boat while lifejackets and helments are important safety equipment.
There is a sprint race and a classic race. The sprint is usually similar distance to a slalom course and will take around a minute to complete. More endurance is needed in the classic which is usually a run of 10 to 15 minutes. The winner of the classic is decided by a single run while the sprint race is usually determined by two combined run times. Competitors are staggered at the start, usually by an interval of a minute as they compete for the fastest time down the course. The fastest ranked competitors usually start last so there may be some overtaking in the classic race.
Related to Wildwater:
Airbags – inflatable bags put in the front and back of the boat to keep it afloat even if the boat submerges. Airbag sizes have regulated minimums which usually range from 30 to 60 litres.
Downriver – Another name for wildwater
Eddy – the calm pool of water where a paddler can rest. This is usually on the side of the river or sheltered by a rock or solid structure upstream. The expression “Eddy out” means to exit the flowing water for a rest.
Section Judge – an official who observes that the rules are followed during a certain section of the course
Spray skirt – made of water resistant fabric or another material. In slalom boat, the skirt does not come off when a paddler overturns unless the paddler intentionally pulls the skirt.
Upstream vs. Downstream Start – depending on the race rules, competitors may either start downstream with the current or upstream against the current. In the case of an upstream start, competitors must turn their boats after they start to get pointed down the course. A start may be in a calm eddy which the competitors must manoeuver out of and into the whitewater.