It has a simple aim: complete the course as fast as you possibly can. The paddler with the fastest time down the river is declared the winner. For many wild-water racing is a way to get close to nature and see the rivers of Ireland. For others wild-water racing offers a chance to push themselves physically in white-water. This includes the excellent opportunity it offers for cross-training for paddlers in other disciplines including canoe-polo, marathon, sprint, freestyle and slalom.
One of the oldest canoeing disciplines, wild-water racing first held World Championships in 1959 and they are held bi-annually ever since. Irish races will be held across the four provinces with an overall National Championship in the season that runs from September to May. Safety is to the fore in wild-water racing with boats fitted with airbags, and paddlers wearing helmets and buoyancy aids in competition. If you want to experience the freedom, fun and competition of wild-water racing try one of our races this season.
What is Wild Water Racing?
Wild Water Racing is an exciting form of canoeing & kayaking which sees competitors race down stretches of rough river negotiating rapids, weirs, trees and rocks in time trial format. It is the canoeing equivalent of downhill skiing.
Races consist of two types.
- The sprint event where competitors race twice down a stretch of rough water approx. 500 metres in length, with the times of their two runs combined to count towards the race result.
- The classic event where competitors race once down a stretch of rough river between 2 kms and 8 kms long. In both event types, the competitor with the fastest elapsed time is deemed the winner. It is a true test of a paddler’s speed, strength, stamina and skill.
What types of canoes and kayaks are used?
- Wild Water Racing Kayaks (composite racing boats, and plastic Wavehopper kayaks)
- Wild Water Racing Canoes (both singles and doubles)
- Open Singles / General Purpose type Kayaks (such as most plastic kayaks)
- Open Canadian Canoes
Separate classes for people competing in different boat types are provided at races and competitors race against others of similar sex and age group, ensuring that everyone has a fair chance.
When are the races?
Wild Water Races in Ireland run from typically early October until the end of March, taking advantage of the usually wet months to swell the rivers. Full details of the domestic Irish Wild Water Races are available on the race calendar at www.irishwildwaterracing.com
Can I race?
If you are interested in trying out Wild Water Racing, it couldn’t be easier to get involved. If you are thinking of coming along to do a race, you can enter on the day. The only requirement is that you are competent on the type of river that the race will be run on and that you have the necessary equipment (canoe or kayak*, paddles, helmet and buoyancy aid). If you are not familiar with the stretch of river in question, the best way to determine this would be to contact the race organiser (their contact details are provided on the race calendar) in advance of any event you are thinking of doing and they will be able to provide you with information on the course, the grading of the river, etc.
- races marked as junior series on the race calendar are typically on easier stretches of river.
- sprint races involve paddling shorter distances so consequently may be more suitable for those wishing to try Wild Water Racing for the first time.
- * If you don’t have a suitable canoe or kayak, WWKC and the National Wild Water Racing Committee have a number of plastic Wild Water Racing Kayaks (Wavehoppers) available for use at races. For further details contact the WWKC wildwater rep at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are still unsure, contact the wildwater officer and we will be able to arrange a come and try it session for you, so that you can try out the Wavehoppers on flat or rough water and get the feel of them. We will also be able to give you some tips, pointers and practical advice in advance of your first race. Go on, you won’t regret it!
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Contact the Wildwater Racing Officer