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Canoeing is a paddle sport in which you kneel or sit facing forward in an open-decked canoe, and propel yourself with a single-bladed paddle, under your own power. Kayaking is a similar activity in a kayak which usually has a closed deck and is propelled with a double bladed paddle. In a kayak the paddler typically sits with legs extended forward.
In some situations canoeing refers to both canoeing and kayaking. Other than by the minimum competition specifications (typically length and width (beam) and seating arrangement it is difficult to differentiate most competition canoes from the equivalent competition kayaks. The most common difference is that competition kayaks are always seated and paddled with a double-bladed paddle, and competition canoes are generally kneeled and paddled with a single-bladed paddle. Exceptions include Canoe Marathon (in both European and American competitive forms) and sprint (high kneeling position). The most traditional and early canoes did not have seats, the paddlers merely knelt on the bottom of the boat. Recreational canoes and kayaks employ seats and whitewater rodeo and surf variants increasingly employ the use of 'saddles' to give greater boat control under extreme conditions.
Canoeing began to meet the simple needs of transportation across and along waterways. Canoeing was the primary mode of long-distance transportation at one time throughout much of North America, the Amazon Basin, and Polynesia, among other locations. As a method of transportation, canoes have generally been replaced by motorized boats, airplanes, railroads and roads with increasing industrialisation, although they remain popular as recreational or sporting watercraft.
The origin of canoeing as a recreation and sport is often attributed to Scottish explorer John MacGregor (1825–1892), who was introduced to canoes and kayaks on a camping trip in Canada and the US in 1858. On his return to the United Kingdom, he constructed his own canoes and used them on waterways in various parts of Britain, Europe and the Middle East. He wrote a popular book about his experiences; "A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe" and founded the Royal Canoe Club in 1866. The first canoeing competition, the Paddling Challenge Cup, was held by the club in 1874. In 1924, canoeing associations from Austria, Germany, Denmark and Sweden founded the Internationalen Representation for Kanusport (IRK), forerunner of the International Canoe Federation. Canoeing became an Olympic sport in Berlin in 1936.
Other recreational aspects of canoeing are not strictly defined, and distinctions are rather artificial and growing increasingly blurred as new hybrid canoes, kayaks, and similar craft are developed. Some of these forms may be nominally organised at national levels, but are largely individual, group, or club activities. For many groups there is no emphasis on training, the goal is simply to use boats to have fun on the water.
- Small-craft Sailing – Developed by kayak enthusiasts, small-craft sails enhance the paddling experience for canoeists too. Small-craft sails such as the WindPaddle either augment the effort of paddling or effectively eliminate the need for paddling. They are great for touring, and have established a strong following with recreational canoeists, sea kayakers, expedition paddlers and adventure racers.
- Whitewater – paddling down whitewater rivers for fun, recreation, or getting away from it all. Can vary from short local trips on easy grade rivers, to extreme expeditions on raging torrents in remote locations for many days carrying all equipment. Whitewater Kayaking is probably the most popular form of canoeing (as the word is used in Europe), with Whitewater Canoeing in open canoes gaining more and more popularity lately for its bigger challenge and higher technical skill needed to tackle the same grade of whitewater as compared to paddling it in a kayak. This development has been marked by several new whitewater open boats hitting the market during the last three years, more than in the decade before that, especially PE boats fit for harder "creeking" style paddling.
- Sea kayak – recreational (touring) kayaking on the sea. Includes everything from short day trips to year-long expeditions, may include paddling on heavy seas, in surf, or in tidal currents, and usually requires navigational skills.
- Playboating – surfing and performing tricks on one feature on a river.
- Marathon canoeing, for example
Other forms 
In some countries, these forms of paddling may come under the national canoeing organisations, but they are not universally accepted as canoeing, even though they involve propelling a small craft with a paddle.
- Wave skiing – paddling a small, maneuverable craft (surf ski) a little like a bigger surfboard, amongst the breaking waves of the sea or ocean, variously sliding down the face of the wave or performing tricks on the face of a breaking wave. Close affinity to surfing. The paddler sits on top of the ski and can be strapped in. Competition is based on points for tricks and style.
- Surf ski – paddling a long (about 22'), slim racing craft on the sea. Able to handle going in and out of breaking waves, but not for maneuvering on breaking waves. The paddler sits in a bucket style seat and uses a kayak-like paddle. Most common races are long distance in the open ocean where they can catch swells and get the feeling of skiing the ocean.
- Rafting – one or a group of people paddle a small or large inflatable raft down a wild water river. Has much in common with White Water Touring.
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Canoes have a reputation for instability, but this is not true if they are handled properly. For example, the occupants need to keep their center of gravity as low as possible. Canoes can navigate swift-moving water with careful scouting of rapids and good communication between the paddlers.
When two people occupy a canoe, they paddle on opposite sides. For example, the person in the bow (the bowman) might hold the paddle on the port side, with the left hand just above the blade and the right hand at the top end of the paddle. The left hand acts mostly as a pivot and the right arm supplies most of the power. The sternman would paddle on the starboard side, with the right hand just above the blade and the left hand at the top. For travel straight ahead, they usually draw the paddle from bow to stern, in a straight line parallel to the gunwale.
Tandem steering 
The paddling action of two paddlers will tend to turn the canoe toward the side opposite that on which the stern paddler is paddling. Thus, steering is very important, particularly because canoes have flat-bottomed hulls and are very responsive to turning actions. Steering techniques vary widely, even as to the basic question of which paddler should be responsible for steering.
Among experienced white water canoeists, the stern paddler is primarily responsible for steering the canoe, with the exception of two cases: The bow paddler will steer when avoiding rocks and other obstacles that the stern paddler cannot see. Also, in the case of back ferrying, the bow paddler is responsible for steering the canoe using small correctional strokes while back paddling with the stern paddler.
Among less-experienced canoeists, the canoe is typically steered from the bow. The advantage of steering in the bow is that the bow paddler can change sides more easily than the stern paddler. Steering in the bow is initially more intuitive than steering in the stern, because to steer to starboard, the stern paddler must actually switch to port. On the other hand, the paddler who does not steer usually produces the most forward power or thrust, and the greater source of thrust should be placed in the bow for greater steering stability.
On flat water, a turn can also be made by simply leaning the canoe towards the outside of the turn while paddling normally with a forward stroke.
Paddle strokes 
Paddle strokes are used to propel and steer the canoe, whether forward, backwards, or laterally. The primary strokes are the forward, back, J-stroke and C-stroke.
Setting poles 
On swift rivers, the stern canoeist may use a setting pole. It allows the canoe to move through water too shallow for a paddle to create thrust, or against a current too quick for the paddlers to make headway. With skillful use of eddies, a setting pole can propel a canoe even against moderate (class III) rapids.
Gunwale bobbing 
A trick called "gunwale bobbing" or "gunwaling" allows a canoe to be propelled without a paddle. The canoeist stands on the gunwales, near the bow or the stern, and squats up and down to make the canoe rock backward and forward. This propulsion method is inefficient and unstable; additionally, standing on the gunwales can be dangerous. However, this can be turned into a game where two people stand one on each end, and attempt to cause the other to lose balance and fall into the water, while remaining standing themselves.
See also 
- International Canoe Federation
- American Canoe Association
- Canadian Canoe Association
- British Canoe Union (England)
- Scottish Canoe Association
- Welsh Canoe Association
- Outdoor activity
- Hazards of outdoor activities
- Paddle to the Amazon
- U.S. intercollegiate canoe/kayak champions
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Canoeing|
|Look up canoeing in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- The official website of International Canoe Federation
- Hong Kong Canoe Union (A member agency of Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China) (Chinese)
- Video: Short documentary about canoeing by the Philadelphia Inquirer
- Adventure Canoe – Canoeing Discussion
- American Canoe Association Homepage
- Canoeing at the Open Directory Project