Paddle-Ability is the term used by British Canoeing to describe all Paddlesport activity for disabled people.  The term focuses on a person’s ability to take part in Paddlesport rather than their disability. 

British Canoeing encourages and supports anyone with any disability or impairment to participate in competition in specific Paddle-Ability events and mainstream competition. Specific Paddle-Ability events are held at National Regattas in Nottingham from April to September.  Racing is based on ability (in time bands).


  • Paddle-Ability competition is open to any paddler with a disability/impairment or long- term disabling illness. This can be physical, sensory, or intellectual. **
  • Competition will be divided by age (Junior and Senior) and gender.
  • A Junior competitor is someone aged under 18 years on the 1st of January of the year in which the event takes place.
  • Competition with a large number of younger paddlers, organisers may divide the competition further and provide an under 14 category, i.e., under 14 years on the 1st of January of the year in which the event takes place.

** If proof is needed, especially for those impairments which are “invisible”, for example, Cystic fibrosis, Epilepsy, ADHD and ASD, a variety of documents may be submitted by the paddler. These include GP or Consultant letters, DLA or PIP papers, and SEN statements.

Boats and Equipment

  • Competitors may race in any standard racing Kayak (K1 or K2), Canoe or Va’a
  • Competitors may race in any straight-line running boat, which may be suitable as a beginner’s racing boat which may be more stable than a standard racing boat.
  • Any physical adjustment may be made to the boat, which is required to meet the competitors’ additional needs. For example, an outrigger may be placed on a standard racing kayak to aid stability if needed.
  • Any adjustment may be made to a paddle or buoyancy aid to meet the competitors’ additional needs.
  • A Kayak may be raced with or without a rudder, and a rudder may be immobilised if required. However, a Canoe or Va’a must be raced without a rudder.
  • Any athlete wishing to be considered for Paracanoe racing, must have a National Paracanoe Classification, and must compete in a boat which meets the Paracanoe dimensions.


  • Buoyancy aids that meet the minimum standard of BS EN ISO 12402-5 must be worn by all competitors under the age of 18, and by all competitors who do not have a strong swimming ability.
  • Escort boats may be provided to assist competitors to the start line.
  • Escort boats may follow the race down the course, but the support paddler must not coach the competitor. Support paddlers must not cross the finish line until all competitors have finished.
  • Escort boats will be expected to wear yellow escort bibs.
  • All boats must have suitable buoyancy (see Sprint Rules 11.1). It is the responsibility of the coaches and team leaders to ensure that there is adequate buoyancy in their competitors’ boats.


The current Paddle-Ability events available when there are sufficient competitors are:

  • K1: 200m and 500m
  • K2: 200m and 500m
  • V1: 200m and 500m

The National Regattas which have Paddle-Ability events can be seen on the Upcoming Events page


Entries must be submitted, in advance, with other club entries via your club Team Leader.  If your club does not already have an appointed sprint team leader please contact:

Entrants may have an escort boat to provide support to the starting posts; limited support is also permitted during races.  Escort paddlers will be expected to wear yellow escort bibs.

Paddle-Ability sprint time bands

Other useful information