Developing your skills

Club nights and induction sessions

Introductory Skills and ‘Learn to Paddle’ sessions take place on Tuesday nights between April and August.  You should check the calendar page for dates of specific sessions.  You should also use the form on the right of this page to contact us so that we will expect you and can be prepared.

During these sessions you will be introduced to the club code of conduct, expectations and the what the sport involves.  You will be given the opportunity to get out on the canal in a suitable boat with a suitable qualified member.

Don’t worry, we will provide all the equipment you need.  When you use the enquires form, or email us, further information will be provided.  This will include details about what to wear and bring to your first session.


When you have mastered the basics, you will be able to join our general flat water paddles on Fridays.  As you become more experienced and proficient, you will have the opportunity to develop skills based on your paddling interests.  At present the club focusses on marathon racing, white water paddling or just longer paddles or touring.

Club skill levels

Skills required for Level 1 trips

The activities included in this are paddling local rivers like the Wye (except Symonds Yat rapids), Avon and Severn or the canal.  You need to be able to keep up with others, know what kit is required for the conditions on the day and be a safe member of the group.  You must have completed any induction sessions required by the club.

Skills required for Level 2 Activities

To paddle at this level you will need to be able to use a range of moving water skills and be able to swim confidently in the event of a capsize. You will be able to read the water and compensate for its speed.  These are in addition to both Level 1 and Surfing skills.

Skills required for Level 3 Activities

At this skill level you will be expected to have mastered a good range of moving water skills and gained confidence in faster flowing water.  You will be able to navigate rapids with stoppers, pour overs, waves, rocks, drops and weirs.  You will be able to capsize and swim in faster flowing water and be able to self rescue or be proactive in aiding others in your rescue.  To participate in these trips you must also have attained Level 1 & Level 2 skills.

Skills required for Marathon Racing.

This requires the ability to be self sufficient on flat water as paddlers will be kayaking their own pace and speed and often as individuals.  You should be confident to paddle in close proximity to other who may be overtaking you.

  • Good forward paddling technique
  • Able to self rescue
  • Be able to recognise and avoid hazards on the river/course
  • Be able to help rescue another paddler

Some races take place on estuaries or open water so some additional skills will be required in these situations.

Skills required for Surfing

You will capsize while surfing so will need to be confident doing this and getting you and your equipment back to shore.  You will need to be aware of others in the surf area and be able to avoid collisions. Local conditions dictate the skill and fitness levels required but  small surf and no rips would make this a relatively safe activity for beginners. Your activity leader should be consulted before attending a surf event.  These skills are in addition to Level 1 skills.

Skills required for sea paddling

The skills required are dependent on the prevailing conditions.  Increased swell or winds will increase the potential for capsize, so you should be able to roll or be proactive in group rescue techniques,  A good level of fitness is required together with good forward paddling technique and support strokes.  This is similar to Level 2 or 3 paddling.

If it is calm and only a short trip, then skills relevant to Level 1 (flat water paddling) may be acceptable.  Before undertaking a sea paddle you should read this from the RNLI and consult the trip leader.


Touring requires a good level of fitness and the ability to paddle for extended periods.  You will need to be a confident Level 1 paddler.  You should also know what kit is required and be able to pack this safely in your kayak/canoe.  If camping, you should be able to use all the additional kit required as well as get it in your boat.

Further information

The above are our internal skills categories.  For more details information about specific skills please visit the Canoe England website.

Marathon racing

For those interested in marathon racing, we run fitness and coaching sessions on weekends.  Tuesday nights see most racers out on individual training exercises.

White water

The white water group use the rapids at Symonds Yat on Tuesday evenings from May until August.  As you progress, you will be able to join in the winter white water activities.

Paddling in Gloucestershire