Introduction to Paddling

PaddleNSW is the State organisation for paddling in NSW.

PaddleNSW provides the following benefits for its members:

  • Information and resources for paddlers to get more from their sport
  • Insurance for members while they participate in paddling activities
  • A means of achieving greater paddling skills and techniques
  • Organised State championship competitions and other non-competitive events

New to paddling?

Here are the basics...

Paddle craft

There are two basic types of paddle craft:

Kayaks (and surf skis) where you use a double ended paddle.
This makes the paddling action symmetrical on each side of the boat.

Canoes (including outrigger canoes and dragon boats) where you use a single bladed paddle, and the paddler paddles on one side of the boat (of course, there is always someone different out there - hobie kayaks use a foot operated paddle system which does not fit either category)



What type of paddling is available?

There is a wide range of paddling activities available, known as Paddlesports.

Slalom and Sprint (Olympic paddlesports recently featured at Beijing)
Ocean Ski for recreation or racing (part of many surf lifesaving and ocean carnivals)
Sea Kayaking (made famous by our Cross-Tasman expeditioners)
Marathon Paddling (including the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic and the Murray Marathon)

And many more .. see the Paddlesports page.

But where do you fit in?

Firstly, you need to identify what attracts you to paddling.

You might be interested in having a look around and carrying a bit of camping equipment on relatively flat harbour or inland water or you might like something more sporting. Whatever your preference, there will be a paddle club that can offer you a trial of the style you are looking for. Paddle Clubs or specialised paddlesports retailers also provide excellent advice on equipment and technique.

What equipment do you need?

A boat and a paddle! ... and the other essential items, such as a lifejacket - type 2 or 3.

Before you jump into expensive decisions, check out the Calendar of Events and you will find different clubs or groups organising events. Contact them and arrange to try different activities. There are many stores which support PaddleNSW and we recommend that you introduce yourself and receive professional help choosing the most suitable equipment.

Consider your own safety before you get on the water. You must be able to stay afloat confidently and in all sorts of situations, as you never know when you may find yourself out of your boat where the water is rough or very cold. PaddleNSW recommends you wear a lifejacket, especially where it is required by law, and prepare yourself with the best knowledge and skill for your planned activity.

PaddleNSW has adopted the Australian Canoeing Safety Code and Guidelines as the minimum standards and conditions for any paddler participating in paddling activities. Go to the following links for detailed information for your own personal care and for the safety of others who may be in your care.

Safety Code

  • A general checklist for all activities will give you a huge list of do’s and don’ts. Spend a little time now to familiarise yourself with the information and refer to it for each aspect of your paddling pursuits
  • The Safety Guidelines provide the minimum standards for participating in recreational activities

As you become more competent, you may wish to introduce others to the sport, so seek training to develop your skills to look after them and to ensure an enjoyable and safe paddling experience.