An Introduction to Flatwater Racing Course

We welcome new members with an interest in flatwater racing. We tend to hold three courses each year in May, June and July, each comprising of two hour sessions over four consecutive Saturday mornings. Sessions start after training at 11:00 at the Canal Centre, Mytchett. These courses are designed to teach you the skills and techniques applicable to flatwater and develop your confidence in a flatwater racing kayak.


Courses are open to both members and non-members. These courses are suited to those with no previous canoeing experience and to those who have completed a Paddlepower Passport course and would like to move on to flatwater racing. (NB. Please pre-book for these courses as numbers are limited and may be cancelled if there are no bookings are received).


These courses are free to club members and £30 to non-members. The fee to non-members includes the use of club facilities, boats, paddles and buoyancy aids, and Canoe England Third Party insurance. If non-members subsequently join the club, the course fee is deducted from the initial membership fee.

What to wear

You will be too hot wearing a wet suit and arm movement could be restricted. For the majority of summer conditions, layers of light fitted clothing will dry quickly when wet are the most suitable. Thermals or man-made fibres, or running/cycling clothes are ideal. Clothing that gets heavy when wet, such as jeans and woollens, are unsuitable. No hoodies. We recommend wearing light aqua shoes (not heavy trainers or crocs) or neoprene socks/booties. We also suggest wearing a windproof cagoule and a hat if it is cool, wet or windy. You will need a change of clothes and footwear (as you will get wet) and a towel. Do not bring valuables – there are no lockers available at the club. Any cuts/wounds should be covered with a waterproof plaster whenever possible.

The Syllabus

Details of the four sessions on each course can be found here. There will be less talking and more paddling on the first session of each course if the Course Handout is read before the course starts.

Fitness Requirements

You should be able to swim at least 50 metres in light clothing should you capsize (most people do at some point). You will be required to demonstrate this ability in the canal during the course. We provide buoyancy aids, which you will be required to wear when on the water. Additionally, all club boats have enough buoyancy to support you and your boat during rescues.


A shower is available in the adjacent Canal Centre. We advise you to shower as soon as possible after each session and before you take any food or drink. Although generally “clean”, the canal has a muddy bottom and, especially after rain, the banks are often muddy. Although extremely rare there are waterborne bacteria (e.g. Leptospirosis), which again make showering after contact with the water or the muddy banks sensible – particularly before eating.

Minimum Age

We accept children from age 10 on these courses. However, they should be accompanied by a parent, guardian or an older sibling at all times, including whilst on the water.

After the Course

Non-member attendees can apply to become a full member and join our Saturday morning training sessions with paddlers of similar ability to improve your paddling skills.

Alternatively, come down to the club on Saturday mornings at the Canal Centre between 10.30 and 11:00 to speak with our coaches.