A one-person sprint canoe is 5.20 metres long; a touring canoe of a similar length would be suitable for 2 to 3 people with gear. Sprint canoes are paddled while kneeling on one knee (a person paddling on the left would kneel on their left knee), and the paddler never switches sides; this leads to constant j-stroking a C-1. Typical boat types are C-1, C-2, C-4 and C-15 (War canoe). There are two variants for C-4, the Canadian C-4 and the International C-4. The Canadian C-4 is fairly squat and wide, while the International C-4 retains the long and narrow hull of other racing canoes and kayaks. The War Canoe is found mostly in North America, while all other events enjoy some popularity internationally, with concentrations in North America and Europe.
Sprint canoes are extremely specialized; they are designed only to go fast on flat water in a straight line, with little or no provision for stability. Any high winds, waves, or currents will make these boats very difficult to handle, and could easily result in a capsize. As such, they are somewhat difficult to learn, as even the most stable C-1 will likely be the least stable boat a beginner has ever tried. Often beginners will start out in a larger, more stable boat, such as a C-4, to learn proper technique before trying a C-1.
A sprint kayak is very similar to a sprint canoe. A single is around 520 cm long, and generally just a bit wider than the athlete's hips. They also do not have any provision for stability, although they are much easier to learn because of the lowered center of gravity and by using a wider training boat to get used to the balance.
There are three basic styles of canoe: delta, futura, and 2001. The delta canoe is a diamond shaped (as seen from above) while having the widest point aft of center, and the futura style is narrower and flares out to the same width as the delta. The 2001 style, so called because of the rule change in 2001 which removed the width restriction, is generally as narrow as possible.
The same three styles also apply to kayaks.
Sprint canoes are differentiated from racing shells by their lack of riggers and oarlocks.
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