Level 2 Skills

General aims:

The Level 2 Kayak Skills Award aims to enable participants to:

  1. Kayak safely and competently on flat water and Grade I rivers as a member of a group being led.
  2. Assist in basic rescues.


Participant must successfully demonstrate the following techniques and skills:

  1. An understanding of the Basic Safety Rules of canoeing.
  2. An ability to Enter and Exit a kayak correctly.
  3. Forward Paddle, Reverse Paddle, and Stop.  
  4. An ability to turn while stationary using Forward Sweep Stroke, Reverse Sweep Stroke and a combination of Forward and Reverse Sweep Strokes.
  5. Simple Draw Stroke.
  6. Low Brace.
  7. Turning on the Move.
  8. Edging while the kayak is moving.
  9. Capsize Drill.
  10. An ability to assist in an Assisted X Rescue and/or an H Rescue.


  1. The Level 2 Kayak Skills Assessment must take place outdoors on flat water (i.e. water of Grade I difficulty). No part of an assessment can be taken in a swimming pool.
  2. During an assessment all techniques and skills must be demonstrated to an assessor’s satisfaction in order to achieve this award.
  3. It may not be feasible for a junior or disabled person to assist fully in rescues – such candidates should, however, have a full understanding of the correct sequence of each of the required rescues and have some role to fulfil in the completion of these rescues.
  4. A spraydeck must be worn throughout an assessment.
  5. All strokes should be demonstrated in relevant situations i.e. use of a simple draw stroke to manoeuvre the kayak to the bank. Strokes should be demonstrated on both sides of the kayak.
  6. The Level 2 Kayak Skills Award is not a compulsory pre requisite for any subsequent Canoeing Ireland skills awards.
  7. No age restriction applies to this award.

Assessment Guidelines:

  1. The Level 2 Kayak Skills Award can only be assessed by a currently registered Canoeing Ireland Instructor who is, at minimum, a Level 2 Kayak Instructor.
  2. The assessment will be carried out with a maximum of six candidates to one assessor for Level 2 Instructors and eight candidates to one assessor for Level 3 Instructors and above.
  3. All required assessment rescues should be kept until the end of an assessment.
  4. Generally guidelines will be given, should a candidate fail an assessment, as to the areas that they need to improve on.

Notes for Level 2 Kayak Skills Awards:

Safety Rules of Canoeing

  • You must be able to swim.
  • You must always wear a buoyancy aid.
  • You must always ensure that there is adequate kayak buoyancy.
  • You must never canoe alone.

Entry and Exit

Can be carried out with or without the use of paddles, depending on what is most appropriate to the situation.

Forward Paddling

Some directional instability is allowed for. This should not include complete loss of forward movement or continuous veering from side to side, aiming for a point/gap as a task.

Reverse Paddling

Some directional instability is allowed for. This should not include complete loss of reverse movement or continuous veering from side to side. A wider stroke than that used for forward paddling is permissible.


Stopping should occur in a straight line allowing some leeway, but not veering from side to side. Ability to stop should be demonstrated while paddling forward and in reverse.

Forward Sweep Stroke

There should be full arm extension. The sweep should be initiated at the front of the kayak and continued to stern with trunk rotation evident.

Reverse Sweep Stroke

Trunk rotation to place paddle in the water at stern should be evident. There should be continuous sweep to the front of the kayak as the trunk unwinds. There should be full arm extension throughout.

Draw Stroke

The paddle should remain in the water throughout. Some slight bow or stern swing is acceptable.  An ability to maintain the paddle shaft vertically should be evident. Some body rotation towards the paddling side should be evident.

Low Brace Support

The kayak must be sufficiently tilted for water to reach the spraydeck. A good push down with the elbows above paddle and associated hip action should be evident.

Turing on the Move

The kayak should be moved at good speed through a series of turns.  The turns should be induced by applying a combination of strokes and edge control appropriate to the kayak and the participant. The kayak should continue moving throughout the series of turns without stopping or significantly slowing down.

Capsize Drill

While wearing a spraydeck, and followed by a 10 metre swim towing the kayak and paddle to the bank, then emptying the kayak correctly. The paddle should be retained.