Canoe/Kayak 101: Glossary
Beam: The widest part of a canoe.
Bent-shaft paddle: A paddle with a bend in the shaft, intended to increase power but compromising control.
Blade: The wide part of a paddle; the part that passes through the water.
Bow: The front of a boat.
Bowhand: A paddler who kneels or sits in the forward position of a canoe or kayak; also known as a "bowman."
Broach: In whitewater, to become caught in the current against an obstruction and turn sideways -- a dangerous situation.
Canoe: A light, narrow open boat propelled by one or more paddlers from a kneeling or sitting position, using a single-bladed paddle.
Chute: An area in which a whitewater course suddenly is constricted, compressing and amplifying the current's energy into a narrow tongue of water.
Cockpit: The enclosed space in a kayak or slalom canoe in which the athletes sit.
Deck: The closed-in area over the bow and/or stem of a canoe or kayak, intended to shed water and strengthen the gunwales.
Double-bladed paddle: A paddle with a blade at each end, used by kayakers.
Downstream: In the same direction as the flow of the water.
Downstream gate: In whitewater, this type of gate is green-and-white striped and is negotiated in the same direction as the water flow.
Draw: A stroke where the blade, extended far from the canoe at a 90 degree angle to the direction of travel, is pulled directly toward the side of the canoe, in effort to move the canoe sideways.
Eddy: A pool of calmer water out of the main current of a stream; upstream gates often are placed in an eddy.
Eskimo roll: When a boat capsizes, but the paddler remains in place as the boat "rolls" into an upright position.
50-second penalty: An infraction given to whitewater paddlers for, in most cases, failing to pass through a gate.
Five-meter rule: In flatwater, a rule prohibiting any boat from coming within five meters of the boat positioned next to it, thereby preventing it from riding the other boat's wash.
Flatwater: Calm water or a slow-moving river current with no rapids.
Gate: In whitewater, a gate is made of two striped poles hanging just above the water from a wire extending across the course.
Gunwale: The upper edge of a canoe's side (pronounced "gun-nel").
Hull: The frame or body of a boat.
J stroke: A paddle stroke that ends with a rudder maneuver.
Keel: The ridge running the length of a canoe on the bottom.
Line: The path a whitewater paddler chooses to take through the gates.
Riding the wash: Gaining an unfair advantage in sprint events by traveling in the wash of the next boat and being "pulled along" by it.
River left: The left side of the waterway as it appears to a paddler facing downstream.
River right: The right side of the waterway as it appears to a paddler facing downstream.
Run: One traversing of the course from start to finish.
Single-bladed paddle: A paddle used in the canoe, this paddle has a blade at only one end, used to stroke on one side of the boat.
Spray skirt: A cover worn by paddlers in whitewater events that attaches around the cockpit and seals the paddler into the boat to prevent water from entering.
Sprint: A straight canoe/kayak race on open, flat water.
Stem: The forward part of a boat.
Stern: The back end of a boat.
Sternsman: A paddler who kneels or sits in the back position of a canoe or kayak.
Sweep: A stroke made in a broad curve, turning a canoe in the direction opposite the sweeping side when performed by the sternsman.
Two-second penalty: A penalty assessed against slalom paddlers who touch a gate pole while attempting to pass through a gate.
Upstream: Against the flow of the water.
Upstream gate: In whitewater, a red-and-white striped slalom gate that must be negotiated against the flow of the water.
Wash: The rough or broken water left behind a moving boat.