General Aims

The Level 4 Open Canoe Skills Award aims to enable participants to:

  • Canoe safely and competently on rivers up to and including rivers of Grade II–III difficulty as part of a group of peers.
  • Be capable of negotiating obstacles encountered on water of Grade II–III difficulty
  • Deal competently with rescue situations that might occur on rivers up to and including rivers of Grade III difficulty.
  • Develop group awareness.

Attendance Requirements

Requirements for attending a Level 4 Canoe Skills assessment:

  • Have obtained the Level 3 Canoe Skills Certificate

  • Have completed an RSR 2 Training Course and obtained an RSR 2 Certificate.
  • Have unrestricted access to a fully equipped open canoe, personal equipment, and additional equipment (see Level 4 skills list of equipment)
  • Be a least 16 years of age.
  • Member of Canoeing Ireland.


    During assessment, a participant must successfully explain and demonstrate the following techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 3 Open Canoe skills award and be capable of demonstrating any combination of the strokes competently and efficiently:

    • Forward Paddle, Reverse Paddle and Emergency Stop
    • All Sweep strokes, including Outside Pivot Turn and Inside Pivot Turn.
    • Edging/leaning
    • Trim
    • Bow Rudder, Cross Bow Rudder
    • Stern Rudder.
    • Bow Jam & Cross Bow Jam
    • Support Strokes
    • Draw Stroke, Sculling Draw
    • Hanging Draw strokes.
    • Poling & snubbing in a Grade 1 environment
    • An ability to use water conditions available for the effective and efficient manoeuvring of an Open Canoe.
    • Competence in negotiating water obstructions i.e., Standing Waves, Stoppers during the course of a trip.
    • Competence in negotiating bends where water flows under trees or against vertical riverbank
    • Forward Ferry Gliding
    • Reverse Ferry Gliding/ Setting
    • Breaking in accurately
    • Breaking out accurately
    • Controlling a canoe with a pole in a grade 1 environment
    • Controlling a canoe in windy conditions.
    • X Rescue
    • Curl rescue
    • Self-Rescue
    • Deep Water Rescue of an incapacitated paddler
    • Rescue and Tow
    • Offensive and Defensive Swimming
    • An ability to manoeuvre an empty canoe between two specified points.
    • An ability to use a Throw Rope to rescue a swimmer.
    • A practical knowledge of First Aid and its relevance to possible situations arising during a canoeing trip to include: Shock, Hypothermia, Head Injuries, Dislocations, Bleeding, CPR, EAR.
    • An ability to deal with the recovery of a swapped, pinned, or stuck canoe.

    An understanding of the following:

    • River Grading
    • River Route finding
    • Trimming a canoe for varying environmental factors
    • Types of Open Canoes and Paddles
    • Towing systems and methods
    • Group control and awareness
    • Signals and Commands
    • Personal Equipment
    • River Running Methods

    Course Documents