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

Assessment Guidelines
Equipment List