Freestyle kayaking is a fun, fast and dynamic discipline of the sport of kayaking.
GB Freestyle – GB Freestyle; the governing body for Freestyle kayaking in the UK
Freestyle paddlers use white water waves and holes to perform surf and gymnastic-style manoeuvres and tricks. The sport uses short kayaks designed to surf and spin across the water surface, and release up into the air.
In competitions, freestyle kayakers gain points for every different rotation they perform (vertical (cartwheels), horizontal (spins), barrel rolls (airscrews) and somersaults (loops)), with bonus points awarded if they can get their boat out of the water and up into the air. Competition runs last for 45 seconds in which competitors have to perform as many different moves as possible. Each different move scores points and the highest overall score wins.
Squirt boat (kayak) is the slower paced, smoother and more graceful element of the sport where kayakers paddle super low volume kayaks and perform fluid and graceful moves above and below the water surface. In competitions squirt boat kayakers gain points for smooth control during their 60 sec choreographed routines.
Points are awarded for each different rotation, and additional bonus points awarded for how deep and long they can keep their boat under the water in a mystery move.
In Great Britain, competitions are open to all levels, with novices and GB Freestyle team members competing at the same events. Competitions comprise of various classes (K1, C1, OC1, Squirt) and categories (gender and age – junior, senior, master). Most events also have categories for different ability levels (novice, intermediate and elite) allowing you to compete at the right level. Often different rules are used for the different experience levels e.g. fun or less rigid rules for novice categories and International freestyle rules (rules) for elite categories.