Flatwater racing could be regarding as one of the club’s “specialist subjects”, having had some very talented paddlers climbing through our ranks over the years. Including Sam Rees-Clark (Marathon and Sprint) and her brother Mike Rees-Clark (Wildwater canoeing) who do/have represented Great Britain.

All racing paddlers start at the bottom and work their way up to the level that matches their ability, given the time and commitment that they can give to the sport. At BCCC we are always looking to bring on new racers and develop their potential. If you think you are interested, then get in touch today.

In the meantime, below is a brief insight into racing.

What you need to know
The Distances

Paddlers in Divisions 7, 8 and 9 race over a course of about 6.5km (4 miles). Divisions 4, 5 and 6 race over a course of about 13km (8 miles) and Divisions 1, 2 and 3 over 20km (12 miles). Despite being referred to as ‘Marathon racing’, only the most able competitors at national and international level, paddle over the traditional Marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

If you are under 12, you can enter races in boats called Lightnings, which are strong, stable craft ideal for young people under 12 years old and under 60Kg. The distance raced is typically 2 miles. Every regional Hasler race has events for Lightnings in the Under 12 and Under 10 categories for both boys and girls.

The actual distances may vary a little from event to event, largely due to the safe and accessible length of water available to race on. Most races in Divisions 1-6 have portages, which means you have to get out of your boat and walk/run whilst carrying your boat around the obstacle (e.g. a weir or lock) before getting back into your boat to continue the race. If there is no natural obstacle, an “artificial” portage is inserted. There are usually no portages in the Division 7-9 races.

The Equipment

The longer and narrower the boat, the faster it will be. However, narrower means less stable and the length is limited by international rules. The BCCC has a wide variety of flat water racing boats suitable for beginners and improvers alike. From fast tourers to full racing craft (with a rudder operated by your feet via a tiller bar). For clarity, boats are described as K1/C1’s or K2/C2’s (K is for Kayak and C is for Canadian). A K1 is a single racing boat, K2 a double and a K4 has 4 paddlers. All club members should read the BCCC equipment usage policy before using the boats.


Very few racing paddlers use a standard asymmetric paddle. All our racing paddlers use the wing paddle blade, from the start of the Introduction to Flatwater Racing course and in training. The club has a large assortment of wing paddles available in various lengths and sizes for members to use, before they opt to purchase their own.

Buoyancy Aids

All racers under the age of 16, or paddlers ranked in Divisions 9, 8 or 7 must wear a buoyancy aid, whether in training of for a race. The club has a variety of buoyance aids to choose from, although many opt to purchase their own.

The Races
Marathon Races

These are held all over the country throughout the year, usually on Sundays. Competitors have an official Marathon Division Ranking from 1 to 9, or Lightning Class. New competitors start in Division 9 (or the Lightning Class for those Under the age of 12), and progress through the divisions by winning their race or achieving a time that would be competitive in the next higher division. To find out more about Marathon racing in Great Britain, go to the Marathon Canoe Racing UK website.

Hasler Trophy

The Hasler Trophy racing season is from April to the end of October. Each participating Paddle UK affiliated club is in a region. The BCCC are in the Southern region. Clubs in each region offer to run a race in the Hasler series championship. Clubs in that region enter their paddlers in each of the Hasler races within their region, and gain points for their finishing position in their race (e.g. winners receives 20 points, second place receives 19 points, and for K2 crews; winner receives 40 points and second place receives 38 points). Points per club are gained at each race, resulting in the top 4 clubs in each region going on to compete at the Hasler Final in September, where they come together to compete to find the overall winners.

Other Marathon Races

Apart from the Hasler races, there are other Marathon races throughout the year. Including the gruelling 125 mile Devizes to Westminster (DW) race held over the Easter weekend. The Waterside Series and Thameside Series, which precede it. There is also the National Marathon Championships, which are based on male and female age groups from Under 10s to Over 69s, in K1 and K2. These championships are frequently used as an assessment event for the World Championships. Details for all racing events can be found on the Canoe Marathon Racing UK Calendar.

Details of our local races can be found in the BCCC Club Calendar.

What to Wear

Flatwater racers do not expect to fall in, so no need for a wet suit, as it will be too hot and uncomfortable (even in the winter) and arm movement could be restricted. For newcomers to flatwater racing, advice on what to wear can be found in the details for the Introduction to Flatwater Racing Course.

How to Get Started

Get in a boat and start paddling!

Attend an Introduction to Flatwater Racing Course

Details of the courses can be found on our Flatwater Racing Training page.

Train Regularly

The BCCC flatwater racers train formally to a pre-determined schedule on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 17:30hrs and on Saturday’s at 09:00hrs. Informally, groups of paddlers of similar abilities may come together for training at other times by agreement.

Enter the Hare & Hounds

As part of the training schedule here at the BCCC, there is a monthly Hare & Hounds race on the third Saturday morning of each month. Paddlers race against the clock over 2, 4 or 6 miles. The idea is to hopefully improve their times to help them climb up the Division table, with the continued guidance from our race coach and continued training.