What is Canoe Sprint?

What is Canoe Sprint?

Flatwater Sprint Racing is one of the best-known competitive canoeing disciplines in Australia. This is probably due to its inclusion in the Olympic Games since 1936 and Australia’s involvement in All Olympics from the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Flatwater Racing is all about speed on flat water over distances of 200 metres, 500 metres and 1000 metres. The crafts that have developed are sleek and fast but unstable.[/vc_column_text]

Canoe sprint takes place on a flatwater course and races are contested by two types of boat, canoe (C) and kayak (K). In a canoe, the paddler competes in a striding position using a single-blade paddle, in contrast to the double-bladed paddle used in a sitting position in a kayak. At international level the discipline is competed at four distances from 200m to 5000m, both individually and in teams of up to four. Each discipline is categorised by boat type, number of competitors per boat, gender, and race distance, meaning the example of C2M 500m is the canoe male doubles 500m.

Canoe sprint made its debut at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 with nine men’s events, with that number reduced to eight in London 12 years later to accommodate the first women’s race at the Games, the K1W 500m won by Denmark’s Karen Hoff. Canoe sprint has featured in every Games since, and the 2020 programme in Tokyo will consist of six men’s and six women’s events.

Canoe Sprint is a race to the line on a flatwater course with international competition set over four distances: 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 meters.
Races are contested as individuals and teams with up to four athletes in a boat.
Both canoes and kayaks compete in the sprint discipline and are distinguished on the results sheet by their initial letter C and K followed by the number of competitors in the boat, the gender and then the distance. For example, K1M 200m is Kayak Men’s Singles over 200 meters.
In a kayak, the paddler is seated and uses a double-bladed paddle pulling the blade through the water on alternate sides to propel the boat forward.

In a canoe, the paddle has a single-blade and the athlete uses a striding position with one knee on the deck and the other foot forward allowing room to pull the paddle down their preferred side of the canoe.
In international competition races are split into nine lanes that are allocated randomly in the initial heats; subsequently lane positions are set by qualification time: five being the fastest to qualify, then six, four, three, two, seven, eight, one and nine.
The Olympic Games is an exception, with races comprising of eight athletes with the fastest two occupying lanes four and five after the initial preliminary shakeout.

Calendar & registrations

Bendigo Friendly Sprint – November 18th – Bendigo, Lake Weeroona – Registration open

2023 Paddle Australia GP1 – December 8-10 – West Lakes Regatta Centre, Adelaide, SA – Registration open

Herring Island 200m Dash – January 14 – Yarra River, Herring Island – Cancelled

2024 NSW State Championships – January 20-21, SIRC, Penrith NSW – Results

2024 Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships and PA GP2 – February 16-18 – SIRC, Penrith, NSW – Live results

2024 Paddle Victoria Sprint State Championships – February 24-25 Nagambie Lakes Regatta Centre – Registration OPEN

2024 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships – March 6-10, SIRC, Penrith, NSW – Registration OPEN

2024 Paddle Victoria School State Championships – March 17, Nagambie Lakes Regatta Centre – Registration coming soon


Volunteers are essential to the running of any Sporting Event and Canoe Sprint Events are no different.  If you’re interested in volunteering at a Canoe Sprint Event please email us on paddlevic.sprint@gmail.com

Our Friends over at PV Marathon have prepared some great training videos to assist with volunteering at Flatwater Events, the following 2 clips in particular apply to Sprint Events:

Scrutineers & Raft Marshals

Safety Boat Driver & Crew

2024 Paddle Victoria Sprint State Championships

Getting Started

Paddle Victoria Sprint Clubs

Paddle Victoria has many affiliated clubs who specialise in Sprint paddling and have club coaches and boats available for their members to use when building their skills. For more information, contact the clubs directly. A list of clubs who support Sprint paddling can be found here and their contact information can be found here.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Paddle Victoria Sprint can be contacted via paddlevic.sprint@gmail.com


Wine and Candle Fundraiser
All funds raised through this amazing opportunity go towards Sprint athletes’ travel support for National and/or Internation competitions.
Paddle Victoria Sprint has selected some awesome wines – now available online.
Order here:
Australian Sports Foundation
Anyone who makes a donation can request a receipt and claim a tax deduction. Donations are made to our fundraiser via the website.The Victorian Canoe Sprint Team is made up of Victoria’s top Canoe and Paracanoe Sprint athletes, including Juniors, Open and Masters. We are fundraising to support these athletes travelling to Perth for the 5-day Paddle Australia Canoe Championships in March 2023.Funds raised will be divided between the athletes to help cover the costs of travel, accommodation and entry fees.In 2022 Victoria had 36 athletes compete at the national championships, including 25 juniors from all across Victoria. We hope to support a similar size team attending Perth in 2023!


Paddle Victoria Sprint Merchandise will be available soon, keep an eye on this space for more information.

Victorian Sprint Team


Coming soon.