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Canoe/Kayak 101: Glossary

Andrew Weber; USA TODAY

Canoe/Kayak 101: Glossary

Learn more on the terminology used in Olympic canoe/kayak.

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.

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