Competition disciplines

There are plenty of opportunities for competition in all disciplines through the year around Melbourne and further across Victoria.


Marathon racing distances vary from a few kilometres through to hundreds. Canoeing Victoria and its affiliated clubs conduct marathon races throughout the year and throughout the state.

Paddlers over the age of 10 can compete and there is no upper age limit, with competition still fierce in the 60+ age group.

Many races have a full distance of around 24 to 32km for open age-group competitors while juniors and veterans will race reduced distances depending on their age group or division (ability / fitness level).

While many classes of boats are accepted, most competitors paddle single or double flatwater racing or touring boats (Ks and TKs).

The Grand Prix Series consists of 5 races from January to March, with the Victorian Marathon Team being selected from the winners of these events. The selected team compete for Victoria at the Australian Championships held in April. The winners of this event can then go on to represent Australia at the World Championships.

The Winter Series consists of 8 races from May to August. A divisional system applies so that paddlers of any ability, in any craft, can race against others of a similar ability. Four races are designated as singles events and four as doubles, but either type can be paddled at any event.

The races are divisional, meaning that rather than being divided by age, craft or gender, you select your category based on the distance you are prepared to paddle and also your speed over that distance (e.g. Divisions 1-4 may all be racing the same distance, however if you are new to that distance and relatively slower, you may pick Div 4).

Each time you enter these races, you can earn points for both your club and yourself. These points are based on a handicap system which takes your craft/age/gender into consideration and aims to allow for assessment of relative performance across all the paddlers in the race. This does not affect your actual race on the day at all!

To learn more about the club points system, please see pages 64-65 of the Marathon Diary

There are also other great resources to help you prepare for your first race, especially this guide to getting ready for your first competition.


Sprint (flatwater racing)

Sprint racing is an Olympic sport. INCC has had many Australian representatives over the years.

Canoe sprint competitions are broken up into Canadian canoe (C), or in kayaks (K), in singles, doubles or K4.  The competition distances can be 200 metres, 500 metres, 1,000 metres, or 5,000 metres long.

There are several state and national regattas held over the Summer months each year. More details can be found on the Paddle Victoria website.

Adventure / multi-sport

There is an active group of adventure racers within the club who compete regularly in events such as the Anaconda series, Upper Murray Challenge and Marysville to Melbourne. Multi sport races can also be completed by teams, so an ideal way to ‘test the waters’ if you are not quite ready to tackle one as an individual. (And teams are often on the lookout for paddlers!)

INCC has a long and proud history of nurturing fledgling adventure racers. Four-time World Kayak Marathon Champion, John Jacoby is an INCC life member and arguably one of the most successful adventure racers competing at international level. John is now the director of Rapid Ascent, (Adventure Race Event Management).

Ocean racing

Ocean racing has enjoyed considerable growth and interest over the last few years in Victoria. Many surf clubs are now also home to ocean racing skis, alongside the surf skis. Ocean racing skis are longer, have a deeper seat well and greater buoyancy in the bow. Ocean racing ski’s are designed to be fast in rough open seas – but obviously this depends on the skills of the paddler!

For a change of scene and experience, several INCC members often paddle recreationally on the bay and join in races and training down at Sandridge Surf Life Saving Club. More details about ocean racing events can be found at the Outlaw Paddling website.


Canoe Slalom is an exciting whitewater paddling discipline. The sport consists of up to 25 designated upstream or downstream gates (vertical poles approximately on metre apart) suspended over a course of whitewater rapids along a length of 200 – 300 metres. The paddler must negotiate the gates in numerical order, the correct direction, in the shortest possible time and with the least number of penalties. Canoe Slalom can present challenges and deliver achievable outcomes at all levels from beginners to Elite. It is an Olympic sport and is well supported by the Victorian Institute of Sport.

Events are held on the Yarra around Melbourne, and on the Goulburn, King and Big River.

Canoe Polo

Canoe Polo has a very active following in Melbourne and brings a team environment to all the other benefits of paddling. INCC has fielded teams in the past and Canoe Polo players often paddle flat water as a cross training exercise. More information is available on the Victorian Canoe Polo website.

Down River / Wild Water Racing

Wildwater canoeing is a competitive discipline of canoeing in which kayaks or Canadian canoes are used to negotiate a stretch of river speedily. It is also called “whitewater racing” or “downriver” racing to distinguish it from whitewater slalom racing and whitewater rodeo or freestyle competition. Race lengths can be Sprint of about 700m or Classic of about 10km. Down River racing boats are generally light, very bouyant and long so they can cut through rapids quickly. They do not have rudders.

The Victorian Down River committee hosts races through Winter on the Yarra, Big River and the King River. Check out the Paddle Victoria website for dates.


For more information check out Paddle Victoria and Paddle Australia websites.