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Canoe slalom is one of the most spectacular watersports, demanding skill, stamina and courage. The aim is to run a rapid river course marked by “gates” fast, and without touching.

A “gate” is two poles, suspended over the water. Green and white gates are negotiated in a downstream direction, red and white gates upstream. The gates are placed so that you must make tricky cross-current moves and use the eddies and waves.

You have to pass through all the gates in number order, and in the right direction. If you touch a pole with anything – paddle, boat, buoyancy aid, helmet or any part of your body – a 2 second penalty is added to your time. If you miss a gate out, or go through in the wrong direction or upside down, the penalty is 50 seconds – a wipeout in serious competition! The aim is fast and clean. Each competitor takes two runs, and the best run of the two counts.

In Division 4, where you start, it won’t be too hard – a rush of water from a weir, or moving water in a stream. When you get to Division 1 it will be big and tricky! More about Divisions

The gates are positioned to test your skill in using, and coping with, the water. This is perfect training for running big whitewater rivers. There will be an upstream gate to test your ability to break out into the eddy behind a rock; then a downstream gate the far side so that you must ferry glide or surf a wave to reach it before the river pushes you past. It takes skill, as well as speed.

You must pick, and paddle, a line that turns the current to advantage. You must learn to read the water.

Five classes compete: Men’s and Women’s Kayak, Men’s and Women’s Canadian Singles and Canadian Doubles.