Early canoes and kayaks were used for transportation, survival (hunting and fishing), and trade. The earliest canoes were likely dugouts. They were made through an extensive process of carving and burning trees into a hollow craft. Like canoes, kayaks were created by native people of North America. Eskimos used kayaks for centuries to hunt and fish. They were made by attaching seal skins over the frames of wood and/or bone until they were almost completely covered. The British brought the kayak design to Europe in the late 19th century. A few people used it for recreation, but popularity increased after John MacGregor made a lighter and smaller version that was more manoeuvrable on Whitewater Rivers. Canoeing, like bicycling, reached its height of popularity at the turn of the 20th century. The popularity of canoeing has risen 50 percent in the past seven years. Kayaking is now one of the fastest growing outdoor sports in the country. In a 2001-2003 survey, 10.2 million Americans paddled in kayaks. There are many reasons for the popularity of these sports. Many people live hectic lives and want to get away for passive recreation.


Before getting started, it is important to become familiar with common boating terminology. This will help you choose a craft appropriate for your program and teach the essentials of paddling. Basic Paddling Terms


Aft - Back part of craft

Astern - Back part of craft

Amidships - Center of craft

Ballast - Weight that lowers the center of gravity and adds stability

Forward - Ahead; toward the front of the craft

Leeward - Away from the wind

Offside - Direction of a manoeuvre in which the craft moves away from the bow; designated paddling side

Onside - Direction of a manoeuvre in which the craft moves toward the bow; designated paddling side

Port - Left side of craft when facing the bow

Powerface - Side of paddle blade pressed against the water during a forward stroke

Starboard - Right side of craft when facing the bow

Stern - Back part of

Trim - Balanced from end to end and side to side; center of gravity over keels, below the gunwales, and as near bottom as possible


Deck - Panels at the front and back of the canoe

Freeboard - Distance between surface water and gunwale in the middle of the canoe

Gunwale (pronounced “gunnel”) - Top edge/outside rim

Keel - Reinforcing fin that runs along the centerline of the bottom; may be inside or outside

Thwarts (pronounced “thorts”) - Braces that reach across the Braces

Support walls - Made of waterproof foam; keeps the deck from collapsing onto the legs from pressure

Floatation - Bag buoyant material that prevents kayak from filling with water

Foam - Knee pads protect your knees and keep them from sliding around

Foot peg - Used to place feet; may be adjusted to brace knees underside of the deck


In tandem paddling, one person is in front (bowman) and the other is in the back (sternman). Each paddler has duties, one is responsible for. The bowman reads the immediate route on the water, makes necessary commands or manoeuvres to avoid hitting obstacles, and sets the pace for strokes. The sternman matches the timing and speed of the bowman’s strokes to make paddling more efficient and easier to control. One follows the general course and maintains or changes craft alignment, and maintains adequate spacing between other crafts.


There are two basic positions for paddling in a canoe, sitting and kneeling. When kneeling, the paddler wedges his knees against the sides and rests his weight against the front edge of the seat. When sitting, the paddler sits on the seat, bracing his knees against the gunwales. . Kneeling increases the canoe’s stability by lowering the center of gravity. Sitting raises the center of gravity and reduces the canoe’s stability.


The ACA recognizes three parts to every stroke:

1. Catch - Blade is first inserted into the water, power has not been applied

2. Propulsion - Working part of the stroke that should accomplish the objective (makes progress, performs the manoeuvre); paddler uses her torso more than her shoulders or arms

3. Recovery - The blade exits the water and is moved to the catch position of the next stroke; paddlers should feather the blade (twist the wrist to align the blade with the surface of the water) to minimize resistance


Like canoe paddling, kayak stroke also has three parts; catch, propulsion, and recovery. However, there are many differences with paddling a kayak:

  • Kayaks are typically solo crafts.

  • The kayak paddler must assume responsibility for duties of both tandem canoeists.

  • Kayaks are more likely to tip.

  • The double blade of the kayak paddle allows kayakers to paddle on both sides without having to switch.


Paddlers should sit straight when kayaking. This allows a broader range of movement and an increase in strength to perform strokes and manoeuvres. Paddling a kayak involves a push-pull action against the paddle (similar to boxing). When going forward, kayakers punch out with their upper arms and pull back with their lower arms. This creates a need for kayakers to rotate their body, while keeping their trunk and shoulders facing their hands. The Calcutta Rowing Club is introducing the canoeing and kayaking segment to teach the rowing enthusiasts about the knits and grits of this fun ride. Alongwith rowing segment, this latest