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Canoe/Kayak 101: Equipment

Jeffrey Swinger; USA TODAY

Canoe/Kayak 101: Equipment

Learn more on the equipment of Olympic canoe/kayak.

Canoe/Kayak Sprint
In sprint, two types of boats are used: the canoe and the kayak. The differences between the two include the size of the boat, the type of paddle and the posture of the competitor.

Canoe
Compared to kayaks, canoes are wider, heavier, and have no rudder. Competitors rest on one knee in the open boat, using a single-bladed paddle with grips at the top. Strokes are always executed on one side of the boat.

The canoe single (C1) is 5.2m long (approximately 17 feet) weighing at least 14kg (approximately 31 lbs) and the canoe double (C2) is 6.5m long (approximately 21 feet) weighing at least 20kg (approximately 44 lbs).

Single-bladed paddle
Used in the canoe, this paddle has a blade at only one end, used to stroke on one side of the boat.

Kayak
A kayak is lighter and narrow, with a small space for kayakers to sit with their legs extended and steer with a foot-controlled rudder located in the cockpit. Each competitor uses a double-bladed paddle with curved blades and a grip in the middle to accommodate paddling on each side of the boat. The kayak tends to clock faster times than its canoe counterpart.

The kayak single (K1) is 5.2m long (approximately 17 feet) weighing at least 12kg (approximately 26.5 lbs), the kayak double (K2) is 6.5m long (approximately 21 feet) weighing at least 18kg (approximately 40 lbs) and the kayak four (K4) is 11m long (approximately 36 feet) weighing at least 30kg (approximately 66 lbs).

Double-bladed paddle
Used in the kayak, this paddle has a blade at each end used to stroke on both sides of the boat.

Canoe/Kayak Slalom
In slalom, two different types of boats are used: the canoe and the kayak. The differences between the two include the weight of the boat, the type of paddle and the posture of the competitor.

Both canoes and kayaks are open classes, meaning athletes can design boats to their liking so long as they fit length and weight requirements: All boats of the same class must be equal in weight. The K1 and the C1 must be a minimum of 3.5m long (approximately 11 feet, 5 inches), but the C1 can weigh slightly more. The C2 must be a minimum of 4.1m long (approximately 13 feet, 5 inches).

Canoe
A narrow boat propelled by one or more competitor, resting on one knee. There is no rudder and the competitors use a single-bladed paddle to navigate the course.

Single-bladed paddle
Used in the canoe, a paddle with a blade at only one end, used to stroke on one side of the boat.

Kayak
Each paddler sits in this closed, narrow boat using a double-bladed paddle to navigate the course. Slalom kayaks have no rudder.

Double-bladed paddle
Used in the kayak, this paddle has a blade at each end used to stroke on both sides of the boat.

Gates
Two striped poles suspended above the water from a wire stretched across the course. Green gates are negotiated in the direction of the current and red gates against the current.

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