General aims

The Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills Award aims to enable candidates to:

  • Kayak safely and competently on the Sea up to and including slight seas (Douglas Sea Scale, 1-2 metre swell) and force 4 winds (11-16 knots), including overfalls and tide races as part of a group of peers.
  • Be capable of negotiating obstacles likely to be encountered in such conditions.
  • Able to deal competently with rescue situations that might occur in these conditions.
  • Develop group awareness.

Attendance Requirements

Requirements for attending a Level 4 Sea Skills assessment:

  • Have obtained the Level 3 Sea Kayak Skills award
  • Have completed an Essential Coastal Navigation Course and obtained an ECN Certificate.
  • Have unrestricted access to a fully equipped sea kayak, personal equipment, and additional equipment (see List of equipment in).
  • Be a least 16 years of age.
  • Be a member of Canoeing Ireland.
  • Have unrestricted access to a fully equipped sea kayak, personal equipment, and additional equipment. (See Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills List of Equipment)


To obtain the Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills Award, a participant must successfully explain and/or demonstrate the following techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 3 Sea Kayak Skills Award and be capable of demonstrating any combination of the strokes competently and efficiently.

  • Forward Paddle, Reverse Paddle, Emergency Stop.
  • Forward Sweep, Reverse Sweep, and a combination of Forward and Reverse Sweep turning into and away from the wind (360 degrees in both directions).
  • Edging.
  • Bow Rudder.
  • Stern Rudder.
  • Low Brace Turn.
  • Low Brace.
  • High Brace.
  • Sculling for Support.
  • Sculling Draw.
  • Draw Stroke.
  • Hanging Draw.
  • An ability to control a kayak in following and beam seas.
  • An ability to deal with breaking waves.
  • An ability to perform assisted landings on a variety of shores.
  • An ability to follow a compass bearing.
  • The candidates should be able to explain and demonstrate the use of transits up ahead, laterally, and behind.
  • T/Paddle Rescue (Bow and Paddle presentation).
  • An effective X Rescue of a capsized kayak.
  • Effective Roll on any side in a slight sea. Candidate will have to capsize through a full 360 degrees.
  • An effective method of towing another kayak. Suitable towing method may be either single or multiple tows and utilise a variety of lengths. The candidate should be familiar with the Fan and Tandem Tow. The Towing System must be readily accessible and have a quick release mechanism.

The candidate should demonstrate a basic knowledge of the following:

  • Tidal Streams causes and effects and how to predict them.
  • Weather Forecasting, obtaining, and understanding forecasts.
  • Sea Kayaks, equipment, and clothing.
  • Sea Kayaking Camping Procedures.
  • Sea Kayaking Safety Procedures.
  • Sea Charts and Ordnance Survey maps.
  • The effects of wind on sea conditions.
  • An introductory knowledge of the coastal environment.
  • Navigation while at sea, including feature recognition, self-location, ability to route plan to alternate locations such as escape route.
  • First Aid, to include the symptoms and treatment of exposure and an awareness of the technique of artificial resuscitation. It is recommended but not mandatory that the candidate attend a First Aid course such as REC3.

Course Documents