Tom Quinn's slalom canoe  ()Tom Quinn's slalom canoe () © Copyright

Kitbag: Elite Canoe/Kayak

Find out what an elite-level slalom canoeist or kayaker needs on race day

Canoeing or kayaking – what’s the difference? Well it’s all about how you sit and what you paddle with.

Both slalom canoe and kayak, as well as sprint canoe, derive from more traditional white-water boating. Slalom canoe and kayaking became a regular Olympic sport in 1992, and has enjoyed a surge in popularity since artificial courses such as Lee Valley White Water Centre.

Today, canoes and kayaks are ultra-lightweight, wafer thin, and extremely durable. We’ve taken a look at kayaker Hannah Burgess’ kit, to find out what she needs in and out of the white water. 

The kit

1. Helmet 2. Wetsocks 3. Water bottle 4. Life vest 5. Carbon repair sheeting 6. Overshoes 7. adidas boat shoes 8. Rescue rope 9. Waterproof pullover 10. Baselayer tights 11. Sun cream & moisturising cream 12. Water shorts 13. Long-sleeve spray skirt 14. Wet bag 15. Strapping 16. Paddle 

Hannah Burgess' Kayak kit ()


What floats your boat?

Elite-level slalom canoes have come a long way since the sport’s inception in the 1940s. Take a look at Tom Quinn’s Team GB C1 slalom canoe... 

Tom Quinn's slalom canoe  ()



Much like the dimensions of a canoe, features such as the stern (the tail) have progressively become smaller. This allows the canoeist to ‘slice’ through the water more efficiently, making it easier to pivot through the gates of a slalom course.


Over the years, sizes of both canoes and kayaks have been reduced. There are strict rules regarding width, length and volume of both boats, with C1 and K1 classes (individual men’s canoes and kayaks) being 350cm in length and 60cm in width.


Canoeing distinguishes itself from kayaking by a) the position within the rider holds within the boat, and b) the type of paddle he uses. A canoeist uses a single-bladed paddle often kneeling, while a kayaker uses a paddle with a blade on either end, and sits in the kayak with his feet stretched out in front of him.


Today, elite-level canoes are built from carbon fibre or a carbon and Kevlar mix, mixed with epoxy resin. The sheeting is vacuum packed, meaning there’s a higher fibre-to-epoxy ratio, making boats lighter yet stronger. It’s feasible for a canoe to weigh 8kg or less.




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