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Canoe Performance Award



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"Learnt loads and was able to track personal improvements. Great fun! Enjoyed it. Liked learning new skills."

"Two great days and coaching. Good to be in the river both days. Progression and encouragement and I know I have improved my fundamentals and new skills. Encouraged to try new and different skills and ideas and explore what makes things happen. Thanks again!"

"Fantastic, great fun . The teaching style was very thorough but in a relaxed environment. Instructions were clear and made sense. The kit was great. Enjoyed playing with the length adjustment on paddles. I have learnt so much new stuff. The course broke down all the technical skills into bite sized chunks which made learning and taking in the skills much more easily. Personalised feedback and instructions were given on a very regular basis. Praise was given too when we did things well. Any questions we asked were answered clearly. I would definitely use Wild River again and highly recommend to others."

“Very well run, lots of information to take in and lots of new ideas to take away and use. Overall very enjoyable course, learnt a lot from it will definitely be using Wild River in future.”

"Course structure very good. Instructors very knowledgeable and demonstrations very good."

"The amount of support we all got was very good, everyone is very helpful. The help and coaching was excellent. I was helped when it was needed and pushed to my limits."

"Course instructor was an outstanding teacher as opposed to just being good at his sport. Assessment for learning and self assessment were encouraged throughout. I got what I needed from this course. This was not necessarily what I expected – this was a good thing!"

"Great structure - clear explanation of what was next and why. Great technical demonstrations from Dan and Sean - well balanced on and off water. Canoes were great - real difference to previous experience."

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British Canoeing Awarding Body

Canoe Performance Award

Put the stick in the water and push or pull - it is that simple!

There are three main elements to open canoeing technique - boat, body and blade. If you get the boat right, the body and blade will have to do less work. Once we get the body right then the blade falls into place.

Open canoe paddling is the most diverse paddlesport discipline because we can explore a variety of environments from the seat of an open canoe. Performance canoeists have a good understanding of how to move a canoe in open water, in wind up to force three and on easy white water.

One of the joys of open canoe paddling is the fluidity and grace with which a 16ft craft can be guided, through the skill of a paddler, with one long blade. To attain this skill can at first be difficult, but at Wild River we can help you to begin mastering the art!  We will teach you more than just strokes. We will show you good techniques and make sure you know when and how to apply them.

Course Content

We will cover all aspects of the syllabus helping you to acquire the basic skills for open canoeing.

Like all our coaching we aim to give you straightforward options that will work in all environments.

We will look at the following during the course:

  • Forwards paddling for cruising and accelerating.

  • Backwards for slowing down or reversing.

  • Steering in close quarters .

  • Moving sideways.

  • Harnessing the wind to aid you on open water journeys.

  • Using river features to move around the river.

We have a small but high quality fleet of open canoes that can be used on your course. Please see our equipment page for further details of this.

You can attend our course as a training session or as an assessment, or perhaps both. You will receive two days of coaching in the skills needed for open water and white water paddling on grade two rivers.  All candidates leave the course with a clear, precise and personalised action plan; safe in the knowledge that they have a range of techniques that are effective and safe.


During your course you will spend time on some of the idyllic Cumbria lakes as well as a section of  white water.

Likely open water venues include Derwent Water, Ullswater, Windermere. Possible river venues include the Lower Derwent, Eden and Lune.

The NEW Personal Performance Awards are designed for paddlers wanting to gain recognition of their learning and development, in the craft and environment they choose.

These awards allow paddlers to improve their skills, working towards the award of their choice, developing their decision making and fundamental skills.

From January 2019, the Personal Performance Awards will no longer be directly linked to the Coaching or Leadership awards. 

The changes do not affect current Star Award holders. Any Star Awards taken with British Canoeing will remain recognised.

Personal performance awards

I have been paddling now on and off for a lot of years without any formal training, picking up bad habits and not really understanding anything. I then went on a WILD RIVER Coaching Assessment as a student and really liked Sean McGrath’s approach to coaching so I asked what he could recommend as a way of formalising my ability without becoming a Coach or Leader, hence the Canoe Award fitted nicely.

The award itself was a no pressure, no exam way of receiving training, encouragement and correction in a non-judgemental format. There were 6 people on the course and I think it matched each of our own different, individual levels of ability. We never felt lacking and were always encouraged to try a new things or tighten up control to be more precise and were given skills we could take away and practice.

I very much enjoyed the weekend and met new people all wanting the same thing, encouragement and guidance.

I am negotiating with my beloved wife to see which award I could follow up with, possibly the Advanced Canoe Award. I will definitely use Wild River again, thank you Sean McGrath.

Course Dates

30,31 July 2024
21,22 September 2024
Course fee: £210

(Course fee includes the use of our fleet of canoes and paddles).


Direct entry.
No age restrictions.


British Canoeing Canoe Performance SyllabusCanoe Award Course Documents

canoe performance award

Canoe Award Ullswater
canoe performance award Cumbria
Wild River Course Dates




Paddlesport courses in the Lake District