What is slalom?
Race down the river, negotiating a series of gates as you go. Penalties are added to your time, so the aim is to ‘fast & clean’.
There are two types of gates – Down stream gate (green & white) which you have to go through heading downstream and up stream gates (red & white) which you have to paddle through heading upstream.
If you hit a gate (with your body, paddle or boat) you get a 2 second penalty. However you can also get a 50 second penalty by either completely missing out a gate, going through a gate in the wrong direction, or if you don’t get part of your boat and all your head through the gate. At a race you get two runs on the course, with your best result counting.
As a beginners you start racing in Division 4, racing on easy water with lots of opportunity to practice before you race. As you improve and gain promotion to a higher division, the water and the courses get harder.
Why do slalom?
Fun – its enjoyable and satisfying to be able do the course, its social chatting and making friends with people from other clubs. And its another excuse to go paddling!
Challenge – every course is different and working out how to do them and being able to do it right is a challenge – so you are pitting your wits against the course designer as much as other competitors.
Skills – it will definitely improve your paddling skills, but also your ability to read white water.
Fitness – ok you don’t have to be super fit to race, but racing and practicing will make you fitter.
Look Cool – pull off tricky moves with ease
Where can I try it?
There are many events at Division 2, 3 & 4 within easy reach of the Club during the year. We run slalom training at the club and offer coaching at local events to help people get started. Anyone who has mastered the basics of paddling (i.e. going forward and turning) can give it a go – it’s not unusually for children as young as 8 to race.
Division 4 events within easy reach of the Club including at Oughtibridge (Sheffield), Bingley, Marple (Stockport), and West Tanfield (near Ripon). These are spread through the season which runs from March to October. These are usually ‘Double’ events so there is a race on Saturday and a separate race on Sunday.
Non Paddlers can also get involved as judges and officials at events – you soon pick up the rules and it gives you something to do while family and friends are racing.
At races there are several classes:
- K1M – Men’s Kayak
- K1W – Women’s Kayak
- C1M – Canadian Singles Men’s – kneeling up with a single blade paddle (at the moment men and women race against each other)
- C1W – Canadian Singles Women’s – as for men, but from 2009 women have a separate class
- C2 – Canadian Doubles – two people in the boat, both kneeling up with a single blade paddle (these can be both men, both women or one of each).
Most people start off in a kayak, but have a go at C1 or C2 when they get more confident.
What do I need?
When you are starting out you can use any boat, but once you start to progress you will probably want to start using a slalom boat. The club has some of the these that you can borrow. Eventually if you compete regularly you will probably want to get your own slalom boat, lightweight paddle etc.
At division 4 juniors can race on the Club’s BCU membership, adults need to either be a BCU member or pay a small fee for taster membership. This covers your insurance for the race. If you get promoted to division 3 you need to get your own BCU membership.
How do I progress?
At division 4 races 1 in 5 people get promoted. So if there are five people racing in a class (i.e. K1M) the winner gets promoted, but if there are 20 people racing the first four people get promoted. If you do get promoted, you then race in division 3, here you get your own bib number (start number) for the season, and your position in each race is converted to points. Your end of season ranking is based on your best three results (best four points scores) of the season in division 3, or if you do really well and get enough points you will be promoted to division 2. There are 5 divisions – 4, 3, 2, 1, and Premier.
And if you get good, the Club has large shinney trophies presented to the highest ranking male and female paddler each year!
For more information:
Dates of upcoming races in the region can be found on the events list.
For more information on slalom in the UK visit www.canoeslalom.co.uk
For technique information try the Canoe Slalom Technique Library
For further information on getting into competition speak to Les Ford 01484 854099 or email