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Canoe White Water Leader



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"Course very well delivered and coached, good atmosphere throughout and good knowledge. Received lots of information with ample opportunity for communication. Very good equipment and variety. A high level of information delivered to a high standard. Very good instruction with good clear reviews on all aspects. Highly recommended."

"I’ve had a good time and learnt some skills in addition to those learnt from training. Plenty of info, notice for everything. I learnt how to safely take people on a journey, which is what it’s all about, so yes! Been given all the help to get me through the course, action plans etc. Well explained in a relaxed environment. Everything great."


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British Canoeing Awarding Body

Canoe Open Water Leader Award

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A canoe open water leader will be running trips on windy days on large lakes. They will take groups on great sailing journeys or exciting open water crossings in canoe.

Canoe Open Water Award

How can Wild River help prepare you for the assessment?

Wild River runs a variety of training courses which also cover training towards the progressive canoe award.

We offer the two day British Canoeing open water leader training.

On this course we will look at:

  • Pre-trip information gathering.
  • Trip planning and predicting weather and conditions.
  • Safety briefs.
  • Group control strategies.
  • Sailing set ups.
  • Working with the wind to help.
  • Leading groups in safe but inspirational ways.
  • Towing options.
  • Rescues.
  • Incident management.
  • Personal paddling skill development.

Other Wild River opportunities for development:

  • Attend a canoe award to improve you boat control and wind awareness.
  • Bring in one of our team to observe you leading a group and provide feedback and mentor support.
  • Attend a progressive canoe training to increase your all round canoe ability.
  • Attend canoe white water leader training to get more input on personal skill and leadership.
  • Receive some individualised bespoke training.
  • Gather a group to create a bespoke training course of 2 or 3 days.

The key part of any training course is the individual debrief to assist with your development of your detailed action plan.

How does assessment work?


On an assessment candidates will be expected to be able to:

  • Plan and lead an inspirational journey in a way that encourages independence and development of the participants.

  • Paddle their canoe at a good standard in the top end of the remit (force 4).

  • Rescue tandem and solo canoes whilst maintaining good group control.

  • Lead a downwind sailing journey.

Prior to an assessment you will be given the opportunity to contact the group members to gather information about their ability, equipment needs and aspirations for the day. You will be encouraged to plan the day in detail with logistical support from Wild River if necessary. The group will have at least 4 participants in a mix of tandem and solo canoes.

Wild River runs single day assessments with dates on the website. Alternatively 1-1 assessments can be set up on dates that suit the individual.

Pre-requisites for assessment:

  • Prior to assessment all candidates must register with their home nation association (Paddle England, Paddle Scotland, Canoe Wales, Paddle Northern Ireland).

  • Full National Association Membership.

  • Valid (within 3 years) 2 day First Aid Award recognised by Paddle UK.

  • Valid (within 3 years) Safeguarding Training recognised by Paddle UK.

Where does a Canoe Open Water Leader operate?


Canoe open water leaders are qualified to take participants on larger areas of open water. These trips could be on flatwater not more than 500 metres from the bank and in wind strengths that do not exceed Beaufort force 4.

Canoe leaders can make their own decisions about the size of the group but 6 solo canoes or 5 tandem canoes would be seen as a large group.

Force 4 can be 13-18 miles per hour. We can get waves of 1-4ft in height with a significant number of white-caps.

This award covers all the Lake District open water such as Windermere and Ullswater.

Other examples include:

  • Kielder Water in Northumbria.

  • Llyn Tegid (bala Lake) and Llyn Padarn near Llanberis.

  • Lake Vyrnwy in mid Wales.

  • Most of the Scottish lochs in the right conditions.

  • Some tidal estuaries would also be appropriate in certain conditions.


Canoe Open Water Award

Paddle UK have developed an online eLearning resource to support leaders learning and can be accessed using the following link: e-learning

Training Dates

10,11 October 2024
9,10 December 2024

Cost £200

Assessment Dates

Dates to be arranged.
Cost: £270 per person (requires min 3 candidates to run).
1 to 1 assessments £350 - contact us to arrange a date.

Training Prerequisites

There are no formal prerequisites for leader training but candidates should have a level of personal skill relevant to the environment.


For assessment all candidates must register with Paddle UK.

At registration evidence of the following is required:

Full home nation association membership (Paddle England, Paddle Scotland, Canoe Wales or Paddle Northern Ireland).

2 Day First Aid Award (within 3 years) recognised by Paddle UK.

Safeguarding Training (within 3 years) recognised by Paddle UK.

British Canoeing registration


Google Forms Action Plan

How to Register Video

British Canoeing Paddlesport Leader GuidanceCanoe Open Water Leader Course Documents

British Canoeing Paddlesport Leader Skills ChecklistCanoe Open Water Leader Skills Checklist

Safeguarding Training

Paddlesport Leader e-learning

British Canoeing Environmental DefinitionsEnvironmental Definitions

Canoe Open Water Leader Training Ullswater
Paddlesport Leader Assessment




Paddlesport courses in the Lake District