Wild Water


Wild Water Racing is an exciting form of canoeing & kayaking which sees competitors race down stretches of rough river negotiating rapids, weirs, trees, and rocks in time trial format. It is the canoeing equivalent of downhill skiing. Races consist of two types.

The sprint event where competitors race twice down a stretch of rough water approx. 500 metres in length, with the times of their two runs combined to count towards the race result. The classic event where competitors race once down a stretch of rough river between 2 kms and 8 kms long. In both event types, the competitor with the fastest elapsed time is deemed the winner. It is a true test of a paddler’s speed, strength, stamina, and skill.


One of the oldest canoeing disciplines, wild-water racing first held World Championships in 1959 and they are held bi-annually ever since. Irish races will be held across the four provinces with an overall National Championship in the season that runs from September to May. Safety is to the fore in wild-water racing with boats fitted with airbags, and paddlers wearing helmets and buoyancy aids in competition. If you want to experience the freedom, fun and competition of wild-water racing try one of our races this season.

It has a simple aim: complete the course as fast as you possibly can. The paddler with the fastest time down the river is declared the winner. For many wild-water racing is a way to get close to nature and see the rivers of Ireland. For others, wild-water racing offers a chance to push themselves physically in white-water. This includes the excellent opportunity it offers for cross-training for paddlers in other disciplines including canoe-polo, marathon, sprint, freestyle, and slalom.

Wild Water Races in Ireland run from typically early October until the end of March, taking advantage of the usually wet months to swell the rivers.

Type of Boat

Wild Water Racing Kayaks (composite racing boats, and plastic Wavehopper kayaks) Wild Water Racing Canoes (both singles and doubles) Open Singles / General Purpose type Kayaks (such as most plastic kayaks) Open Canadian Canoes

Separate classes for people competing in different boat types are provided at races and competitors race against others of similar gender and age group, ensuring that everyone has a fair chance.