General Aims

This award is designed for sea kayakers wishing to develop advanced paddling and rescue techniques appropriate to moderate/rough sea conditions (Douglas Sea Scale, 2-3m swell and 17-21 knots winds/ 31-38km/h). It is an appropriate award for sea kayakers who paddle with others of similar ability on moderate/rough sea journeys.

The Level 5 Sea Kayak Skills Award is a pre-requisite for progression to Level 4 Sea Kayak Instructor.

Attendance Requirements

The Level 5 Sea Kayak Skills Award requires that a candidate attend a training course prior to assessment. The course for the Level 5 Sea Kayak Skills should be held over a minimum of one weekend (12-15hrs).

Requirements for attending a Level 5 Kayak Skills assessment:

  • Hold the Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills Award.
  • Have unrestricted access to a fully equipped sea kayak, personal equipment, and additional equipment as listed for a Level 5 Sea Kayak Skills Assessment.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Be a member of Canoeing Ireland


To obtain the Level 5 Sea Kayak Skills Award a participant must successfully explain and demonstrate the following knowledge, competence, and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills Award.

• Efficient forward and backward paddling.

• 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 Recovery.

• High Recovery.

• Sculling for Support.

• Sculling Draw.

• Draw Stroke.

• Hanging Draw.

• An ability to control a sea kayak in advanced sea conditions.

• 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.

• A Bow/paddle presentation Rescue.

• An effective X Rescue of a capsized kayak.

• Effective Roll on any side in appropriate conditions. 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.

• Dealing with a rescue scenario appropriate to the environment include the application of first aid in the advanced Sea kayaking environment.

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.

• A knowledge of the coastal environment including flora and fauna likely to encountered on the Irish coastline.

• 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.

Plan an advanced sea journey using an unfamiliar chart, pilot atlas, and tide tables. Explain the plan in a simple summary, including the following information:

• Estimated paddling speed, compass bearings, and times estimated allowances made for wind.

• Tidal considerations.

• Places of interest (scenic or seascape).

• Transits for gauging progress.

• Departure and estimated time of arrival.

• Sound and light signals in the area.

• Information for shore contact.

Course Documents