Ries Recreation



The Class Act!


There we were waiting to take out after a good eight hours on and in the water for our British Canoe Union (BCU) two star certification. Bill Lozano our instructor is betting beers on who can stand up in their kayak longer than he could; who could stay capsized the longest without rolling up etc… That’s when it happened a first rate class act. Bill looks me straight in the eye with his Atlantic Kayak Tours baseball hat on and says “ I’ll bet you I can do a 360 roll without getting my hat wet”. After staring in disbelieve for a second I said “ok your on”. Bill display a huge grin, removes his hat with his left hand, rolls under holding the hat above water. Then places the hat on the bottom of the boat and reaches over with his right hand along with the paddle, grabs the hat off the hull and sweep rolls up. Never getting his hat wet!! …Incredible.


This was a two-day sea kayak course that only got better.  The American Canoe Association  (ACA) is starting to adopt the British Canoe Union BCU standards for certification.  The following documents the paddle strokes and rescues we covered in as much detail as I can retain.



Two Star

Prvode evidence of at least 1 journey of about 2 hours 6km duration.

Three Star

Provide evidence of at least 3 journeys of 10 km (about 3 hours duration each)


Lifting, Carrying and launching the kayak

One and two star

Use legs not back. Enter with the use of a paddle.

Disembarking, exit without use of paddle


Three Star

The candidate should be able to launfh safely and efficiently from any reasonab,e, launfhing spot. E.g. pier. Steps. High river bank



Forward paddling over a 100m course

One Star

Show evidence that they are able to control the kayak in a straighr line 100m.


Two Star

To paddle a distance of about 200 meters. Posture upright and natual. Continuous natual rhythmic paddling. Some trunk rotation is evidence. A reasonable degree of steering accuracy to by achieved including 50 metes at a good crising speed.


Three Star

Are knees/legs cycling? The demonstration will be over a distance of about 500m (through out the test) and will show good speed and control.


The technice for the forward stroke has changed in the sense that a low paddle angle is not taught. A high paddle angle is the most effesiant wheather racing or touring. Hence shorter paddles are being used, for me a 218 would be better than my 230 I am currently using.


With out rocking the body back and forth reach out with a fully extended arm (and fingers). Grab the water as far forward as possible and pull back using torso rotation and the on-side arm untill the arm is at a right angle (about at the hips).


The latest thinking is that there is less pushing with the off-side hand and more pullilng with the on-side hand. The off-side hand can pass beyond the center point of the body, hence this is a very high paddle angle.



One Star

Demostrated in both directions


Opposite motion should be in evidencee within four strokes. The first two strokes are big the big digs the third you are almost stopped and the fourth just straightens the boat out.


Rotate 360 degrees on the spot:

One Star

Spinning in a clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation using the appropriate combination of forward sweeps and reverse sweeps. Some body rotation to be evident.


The sweep stroke is performed with a fully extended arm from the bow of the boat to the stern of the boat, hence getting the largest arch possible. The paddle angle is low, I imagin sweeping everything off the front deck. The top of the padle blade should be at or above the surface of the water. The finish of the sweep should have the off-side arm touching the stomac, hence getting the paddle arc as far back as possiable. For the recovery the paddle is feathered on its way back to start the next stroke.


Reverse Paddling:

One Star

Reverse the kayak should travel a distance of 25 meters. Turning the trunk and looking over on or both shoulders must be in evidence.


Two Star

Same with more emphisis on torsu rotation to a specific destination. At good crusing speed stop in 4 strokes.


The reverse paddle starts with the flat at the stern of the boat with the off-side arm aginst the stomac as to extend as far back as possiable. The first two strokes are short to gather momentum and then full strokes to the hip are used. Rotate the torsu completely and look over your shoulder to watch where you are going


Three Star

Reverse over a figure-of-8 course

Accurate and efficient backward paddling over a prescribed figure-of-8 course.


Paddle a figure-of-8 course:

One Star

Using a combination of forward strokes and sweeps to demonstrate a basic level of steering control.


 Return to bank and disembark:

One Star

Correct approach to the bank, relative to wind, curreng and tyoe of bank or shore. Control must be maintained whilst exting the boat. Exit without damaging the kayak or the bank.


Rescues,Capsize, swim ashore and empty:

One Star

Canadait to remain calm and quicly regain and maintain contact with the kayak. Retain all gear, paddle my be retained by swimming the boat to the paddle.


Two Star

Deep Water Rescue; Take charge of a deep water rescue which should be carried out with assistance, then act as the victim.


Three Star

Deep Water Rescue; An effective rescue of another canoeist, returning him or her to their kayak in deep water. The capsized paddler may assist as instructed by the candidate. It is recommended that boas should be equipped with total buoyancy (eg airbags)


Towing and use of thow line.

Candidate to sho a knowledge of a way to tow a kayak using a line without assistance. The tow must be relesed as for an emergency. The candidate must indicate that he or she is aware of the inherent dangers of towing.



Three Star

The candidate should come up with three attemps, during each of which the assessor may guide or hold the blade of the paddle, but not touch the boat or paddler. A half roll is acceptable (i.e. down and up on the same side.)


Four Star

Where the kayak is of appropriate dsign the candidate should be able to demostrate a roll. I is permissible to allow the candidate to set him or herself up before capsizing. A roll on one side only is required. Provided the rest of the candidate’s performance is sound, an inability to roll is not a fail factor in itself.

Moving sideways:

One Star demostrate satisfactory beginnigs in

Some body rotation towards the paddle should be evident. Blade to be well immersed. Paddle shaft probably not upright at theis stage. Recovery of the blade ghrough the air or sliced in the water is accceptable. Clear evidence of sideways  movement should be in evidence but some bow or stern swing is acceptable.


Two Star

Move boat sidewise 5m retaining directional stability. Blade submerged throughout stroke. Top arm no lower than shoulder height. Body rotation. Lower arm extended fully at start of stroke, top hand acts as piviot.


Two Star demonstrate satisfactory beginnings in

Sculling draw

Body turned toward gunwales. Paddle shafr fairly upright, drive face toward the kayak and deep in the water. Kayak edged slightly to avoid water going onto deck.


Three Star

Sculling draw

Body well roted. Paddle shaft vertical, blade deep in the water. An effective sideways movement must be in evidence without the kayak turning.


Draw on the move

The kayak, whilst moving forward, is to be pulled sideways from its course without turning  (as if to avaid an obstacle) using a draw stroke.


Hanging draw

The kayak to be moved sideways over a grater distance than that of a draw stroke on the move. With the kayak moving  forward at a good speed, the paddle should be placed out to the side, level with or just behind hip. The kayak should move sideways without the paddle moving in relation to the boat, or the kayak turnig. ( It may be necessary for the bow to be held at a slight angle away from the paddle.)



Candidates should possess a range of support techniques in order to maintain balance in varied circumstances. Demostratoins should include low and high recovery strokes as well as low and high sculling for support on both sides.


Sculling for support

The paddle to be kept low, nearly horizontal, with evidence of confident committal to the paddle.


Sculling Support

Two Star

Kayak edged so that it is just off balance. Paddle shafr horizontal, drive face on the water (controlling hand side), leading edge of blade raised on each slow scull. Arms fleixed in a narural postion. (For the purpose of theis test, the examiner should regard sculling as a balancing and paddle-control exercise, not as a means of survival in a stopper.)


Eskimo Resuce

Two Star

Recovery with lower body rotation from an upside down postion whilst maintaining a hold on the rescuer’s bow. May be preceded with practive until recovering from an dupside down postion. Candidate to act as rescuer and as victim.


Three Star

Eskimo rescue

A confident capsize and banging on the hull, with the rescuer moving in from 5 meters distance. A first time recovery must follow, but two attemps may be made. Candidate to act as both rescuer and victim. Both styles of Eskimo rescue to be shown ie bow presentation and paddle presentation. The rescuer must not approch at right angles to where the hands or body are located.


Tilting to assist turning/Edging

Two Star

Candidate to paddle a circle with inside and outside edging being evident. The direction of the turn which is induced is not siggnificantl


Three Star

Exercise to be set showing food edging control that asseits turning



Two Star

The Kakak to turned whilst on the move using firstlu a series of sweep strokes, secondly a low brace turn. Vor the low brace turn, the turn is to be induved by a short efective sweep on the opposite side followed by a good edge turn; the paddle should be in the low brace position, level or just in front of hip, shaft as parallel to surface of water as boat will allow, back of the blade on the water. The boat carves a slow, stable turn.


Three Star

Turning whilst on the move

Turning the kayak wuickly with the minimm loss of forward spped by means of a low brace turn, and by a bow rudder.


Bow rudder

The intention is to indicate that the kayak can be pivoted around the paddle. The turn to be induced be applying a sweep stroke on the opposite side to the turn. The blade should then be planted in the water at a comfortable distance from the gunwale, about level with the knees, with the drive face towards the boat but the leading edge angled away from the bow. Trunk rotation should be in evidence, the top arm across the top of the head. The boat is driven around the paddle by use of the oppsite knee.



One Star demostrate satisfactory beginnigs in

With forward movement of the kayak, the paddle should be inserted to one side of the boat.. Blade should be almost covered, front arm relaxed over stomach, shaft paralled to side of boat. The kayak should be kept running in a straighr line with the paddle remaining on the one side.


Two Star

The Kayak to be paddled up to a good speed, then kept running in a straighe line through a nerrow gap by the use of a trailing paddle.


Bill demostrated the rudder turn by rotating the paddle shaft to inisiate a turn. May only work with assymetric spooned blade shape


Recovery Strokes/Preventing a capsze:

One Star demostrate satisfactory beginnigs in

The kayak should be edged sufficiently to be nearly off balance. Low recovery strokes should be demonstrated on both sides.


Two Star

Show effective low recovery stroke with the boat off balance. A good firm push, with associated hip rotation, should be evident. For high recovery stroke the boat must be off balance with water uo ro the paddlers waist. Repeated on both sides.


Three Star

Recovery Strokes.

Both high and low recovery be demonstrated with the kayak well off balance. To be performed on the move, and forward paddlling to be maintained thereafter.


Rudder stroke

Queen Ann salute

High / Low braces



Re-enter and roll

Paddle float self rescue

Eskimo bow rescue

Group rescues