Canoe Ocean Racing
Ocean Racing is the latest discipline to fall under the ICF. This exhilarating sport encompasses long distance Surfski, Sea Kayak and Sea Touring races and its athletes, among the fittest of the Canoe World, require both endurance and navigational skills as well as other ocean-going expertise. A marriage of kayak technique and speed, Ocean Racing is an ideal meeting place for athletes of all Canoe disciplines. Indeed, some of the most successful Ocean Racers are well-established Canoe Marathon or Canoe Sprint athletes. That’s not to say there are no specialised Ocean Racing athletes out there too.
An extremely popular sport in warm coastal regions, Ocean Racing is huge in places such as Australia, California, Hawaii, and South Africa. Its appeal is clear; a Surfski is the fastest boat over long distance on ocean swells. (In flatwater, only an Olympic standard Canoe Sprint boat is faster.) Athletes can expect to ride big wind-driven waves or hurricane generated ground swells, as well as the challenge of paddling in 20+ knot wind conditions.
A Surfski is a long, narrow, lightweight kayak with an open (sit-on-top) cockpit, usually with a foot pedal controlled rudder. They are generally 5-6.5m (16½-21ft) long and just 40-50cm (16-20") wide.
In complete contrast to the shorter boats we see in Canoe Slalom and Canoe Freestyle, Surfskis are not very manoeuvrable, yet in the right hands the boat can cut through large broken waves with ease.