Kayaking is a very diverse with quite a number of disciplines so there is something to suit everyone!  Below is a short summary of the most common disciplines.  Not all of these are practiced in SKC sadly as we primarily focus on river, sea and recreational kayaking.

White Water Kayaking

White-water kayaking is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water, typically on a river. This can range from active moving water on a grade two all the way up to grade five.

‘White-water’ on a river is caused by a mixture of things. Most often it is caused by a change in gradient and an increase of obstacles the river meets on the river. The water speeds up and swirls or pours over obstacles giving it a white colour hence the name.

Sea kayaking

Sea kayaking is the discipline of paddling across open waters. This can be done on lakes, bays and the sea. Sea kayaks are long, low and slim boats which are pointed at both ends.

Canoe Polo

Canoe Polo is basically water polo, in canoes! Teams of five players pass the ball in order to move closer to the opponent’s goal, ultimately to achieve good shooting positions and score a goal! It is difficult to describe the passion and excitement which is created when a Canoe Polo game is in progress. Participants speed the length of the pool, weaving through their opponent’s lines of defence and spinning in their craft to receive passes. It makes for a fast and thrilling event. Canoe Polo can be played indoors or outdoors and is a great spectator sport because all the action takes place in a confined area.

Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe

Canoe Sprint is fast and dynamic with balance, technique, strength and endurance being needed to achieve success. Canoe Sprint is one of the Olympic Disciplines of Canoeing where teams or individuals in either a Kayak (K) or Canoe (C) race over the set distance with the winning boat being the first to cross the finish line. This usually takes place on a 9 Laned Buoyed Regatta Course over distances of 200m, 500m, 1000m and 5000m with mechanical start systems, laser timing and photo finishes. The classes include Male and Female Kayaks K1,K2 & K4 and Canoes C1, C2 and C4 where competitors race in 1 person, 2 person and 4 Person boats. Canoe Sprint Ireland events take place in Ireland and the Canoe Sprint Ireland Team compete successfully in international regattas all over the world.

ParaCanoe is a new addition to the ICF Canoe Sprint and Paralympics programme with competitors racing over 200m.Paracanoe gives opportunities for paddlers with physical disabilities to participate and compete at club, national and international level. Patrick O’Leary Canoe Sprint Irelands first Paracanoe athlete was 8th at the ICF Canoe Sprint Worlds in Moscow in 2014.

Freestyle Kayaking

Freestyle kayaking is a form of white water kayaking probably best summed up as gymnastics on water. Participants use specially designed kayaks to perform a range of acrobatic tricks and manoeuvres, usually whilst surfing a fast flowing river-wave. While many enjoy freestyle kayaking as a recreational sport, there is also a serious competition scene, with events at national, European and World Championship level.


Marathon Racing takes place primarily on flat water with typical distances of 15 to 28 miles in major international events. Races in Ireland vary from approximately four miles upwards. A race course will generally include a number of portages where competitors must carry their kayak/canoe for a given distance before re-entering the water.

Slalom Kayaking

Slalom is arguably our most successful canoe-sport discipline with Eoin Rheinisch finishing fourth just outside the medals in Beijing. It has been an Olympic event since 1992 when Ian Wiley was competing. His best performance was fifth in Atlanta 1996.

Competitors race alone against the clock through rapids on a course marked out by poles (called slalom gates). The challenge is to pass through approximately twenty gates suspended above the water, avoiding a touch with any part of the boat, paddle, or body. The competitor must pass through the gates in the correct order and direction. Green and white striped poles must be passed in a downstream direction and red poles in an upstream direction.

Surf Kayaking & Wave Ski

Paddlesurf is an exhilarating dynamic discipline of kayaking where we surf ocean waves in a similar style to traditional surfers. We use specially designed Kayaks and Waveskis to surf waves of all sizes. Paddle surfing is one of the only disciplines in which Ireland can offer truly world class conditions, proven by our hosting of the World Surf Kayaking Championships in 2003.