5 Types of Paddle Sports

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Paddle sports require the use of a paddle to propel and steer a vessel on top of the water. There are many different paddle sports that make for an absolutely fun, thrilling and exciting way to spend time on the water.

Initially, two main types of paddle sports were recognized. These are kayaking and canoeing. However, many people are now embracing stand up paddle board as a paddle sport.

While not traditionally recognized as a paddle sport, white water rafting and river rafting offer an excellent way of spending time on the water. While there are plenty more water adventures you can try this summer, below is a list of the main types of watersports. Let’s dive straight in!

1. Canoeing

Think of canoes as small boats with a long and slender build. The seat inside the canoe is raised and the canoeist sits down with his legs at a 90-degree angle.

There are two ways you can propel your canoe—using a single bladed paddle or a double-bladed paddle. Some canoes are designed for white water rafting and others made for more calmer waters.

Canoes are a favourite of many water sport enthusiasts and have been around for centuries with people making use of their long slender boats for fishing, hunting or simply crossing from one section of the river to another.

While modern technology has increased the performance of canoes, making them more buoyant and easier to control, the basic traditional design remains the same.

There are many different types of canoes which include recreational canoes that are made from plastic or aluminum, intermediate canoes, white water canoes, solo canoes as well as racing canoes to mention a few.

2. Kayaking

Like canoeing, kayaking has been arounds for hundreds of years. However, more and more people have taken to kayaking over the last 20 years. Kayaks have a similar design to canoes, also featuring a long and thin design.

One of the main differences is that the kayak seats are not raised. They are placed onto the floor of the kayak with the legs and feet of the kayaker being in front.

Most of the kayak designs are sit-on-top or sit-ins. There are many different ways to enjoy this paddle sport. There is white water kayaking which requires special white water kayaks to handle the fast flowing water, sea kayaking and recreational kayaking to mention a few.

There are also different types of kayaks that are suited for different situations. Recreational kayaks are short and wide which makes them easier to paddle. In fact, pretty much anyone can do recreational kayaking.

Touring kayaks are designed for being in the water for a long duration. These kayaks are long and thin which also allows them to be good at tracking or going in a straight line. If you are torn between recreational vs touring kayaks, then understanding the difference between these tow watersports can help make the right choice.

Sea kayaks are designed to be used in the oceans. Due to the fact that waters here can be quite unstable, these types of kayaks are wide for maximum stability.

3. Stand up paddle boarding

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There are many reasons why you should try stand up paddle boarding. The idea for stand up paddle boarding actually came from surfing. This time however, you will be using a paddle to propel the board forward.

Stand up paddle boarding originated in Hawaii and while it is a recent addition to the list of paddle sports, there are those who believe that it has actually been around for longer.

Simply put, stand up paddle boarding involves getting on a surf like board with a long SUP paddle which you will use to propel the board while standing up straight. This paddle sport is great for photographers as they can get a much better view while standing up.

There is more than one way on how to paddle a stand up paddle board. You can race, tour, surf as well as do SUP yoga. You can even turn your SUP into a Kayak. More recently is white water paddle boarding for the thrill seekers. Kayaking may have been the fastest growing paddle sport, but this title has been taken over by stand up paddle boarding.

4. Rafting

Many people may not want to believe that rafting is a paddle sport, but considering paddles are involved, it most definitely is. And you can choose between white water rafting and river rafting.

Rafting requires you to choose a course of a river on a raft. The raft will usually be an inflatable boat that is constructed from highly durable rubber and vinyl material. And it needs to be tough because there’s nothing easy about rafting. The waters are turbulent and there is every chance that you might run into a rock.

Rafting is usually done with a number of paddlers on top that use paddles to guide the boat. The fun of it is that it is among the most thrilling types of water sports out there. For the adventurer and thrill seeker, rafting is a definite must try.

5. Rowing

Rowing is mostly done for sport and involves sitting in a rowing boat and using oars to propel yourself. Unlike the normal forward motion in a canoe or blow up kayak, you will be moving backwards in a rowing boat.

You could argue that paddles are not used to row but instead oars are used. However, the names are just technicalities and the oars are similar in structure to the paddles. It is the mechanism of propulsion that is different.

Globo surf overview

Paddle sports are gaining popularity rapidly among water and outdoor enthusiasts. There are many ways to enjoy paddle sports including, exercise, fishing, rafting and photography and the right type of paddle sport for you will depend on your personal preference. However, keep in mind that some such as kayaking can get a bit dangerous and that is why it’s important to practice kayaking safety and especially safe kayaking in the ocean.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!