The organizer of the race has
final say over any and all rules listed here.
White Water Rules
In general these rules are taken from the ACA rules
and have been abbreviated for clarity.
There are other rules that are more specific to the operation of the races
that would not
concern the average racer so they have been omitted.
THESE ARE AN ABBREVIATED LIST OF THE RULES FOR WHITE WATER RACING.
PLEASE VISIT THE ACA
RULES PAGE FOR A COMPLETE LIST.
This is intended for a guideline for new paddlers and is nowhere near complete.
knows his/her river or course and knows what rules are necessary and what ones
waive. If in doubt check with the organizer.
SPECIFICATIONS OF CANOES
A whitewater open canoe is a traditional open Canadian or Native American
canoe, which is a
boat with ends pointed and higher than the middle, symmetrical side-to-side,
and propelled with
single bladed paddles.
There will be two categories of canoes. They shall be known as Formula
16 and Formula 14.
The Formula 16 classes are intended to include canoes sold for general recreational
In general, ABS, polyethylene, aluminum and wood/canvas canoes will qualify
(assuming they meet all weight and dimension requirements) while fiberglass/Kevlar/composite
and wood strip canoes will generally be included in the Formula 14 classes.
A canoe MUST be
or have been a commercially available, general production model to qualify
for the Formula 16
classes. In questionable cases, the Race Chairman shall decide with reference
to the intent
of this rule.
1. Canoe width shall be a certain percentage of the overall length of
the hull, at a point
within one foot of the center of the hull length, measured at the 4-inch waterline,
including a keel. The minimum width for a Formula 14 canoe is 14.375 percent
of the length.
The minimum width for a Formula 16 boat is 16 percent of length.
2. For safety and economy, canoes shall meet minimum weight requirements.
includes all permanent fixtures and all flotation used for the race, but does
paddles, containers, unattached portage yokes or other removable equipment.
or flotation may be added to bring a canoe up to the required weight.
Formula 14 Category: 6 pounds plus 2 pounds per foot of length
Formula 16 Category: 6 pounds plus 3 pounds per foot of length
3. Depth shall not exceed 15 inches for Formula 14 categories or 16 inches
for Formula 16
categories, at a point within one foot of the center hull length, measured
vertically from the
highest point to the outside bottom, not including a keel.
4. The gunwale shall form a smooth curve or series of compound curves.
Width of the
gunwale and tumblehome shall not exceed 3.5 inches, measured horizontally from
extreme outside of the hull or outwale to the inside of the inwale.
5. Width of the outwale (including splash rails) shall not exceed 1.5
horizontally from the adjacent hull to the outside of the outwale. Width of
the inwale shall
not exceed 1.5 inches measured horizontally from the adjacent hull to the inside
inwale except where it merges into or is under possible decks.
6. Length of deck shall not exceed 36 inches, measured parallel to the
the extreme end of the hull to the extreme end of the deck. No part or attachment
deck may extend more than one inch above the canoe's gunwale.
7. There shall be no devices to remove water other than bailing scoops
8. There shall be no devices to assist portaging other than carrying yokes,
tumplines, and bow and stern lines.
9. Flotation is used to protect the paddler, the equipment, safety personnel
bystanders who may offer assistance, yet should not be so excessive that the
canoeing tradition is compromised.
There must be enough permanent flotation (air bags excluded) to float
and a 25 lb. weight placed at midship horizontally if the canoe is full of
not, sufficient flotation must be added to do so, in accordance to the flotation
Flotation added to the original hull is limited to a maximum of 10 feet
along the canoe and all flotation within the front 6 feet of the canoe must
the legal 36-inch deck. Foam outwales and normal post or pads for a bow paddler
are not included in this restriction.
Flotation allowed for the race may be included when the canoe is checked
weight. Competitors under 19 years of age may add additional floatation
canoes, provided that the additional floatation is depressed at least 3 inches
below the gunwale and does not impede the entry of water into the canoe.
10. The canoe shall not be covered by any device or material other than
normal seats, thwarts, decks and flotation as limited above.
11. There shall be no attachment to the exterior of the hull between the
waterline and the gunwale other than safety lines, grab loops, or splash rails.
12. Safety lines of at least 1/4" in diameter and 6 feet of length
or a six-inch
diameter grab loop of at least 1/4" line shall be attached to each end
13. Length measured along the centerline of the hull only must not exceed
18 feet, 6 inches
14. It is not permissible to make the boat meet the required dimensions
the addition of taped-on extensions or by similar means. The boat should be
designed to and remain within, the required dimensions. To be permissible,
corrections must be of a permanent nature except where applied to repair
damage during an event, and must in no case constitute a potential safety
MEANS OF PROPULSION
1. Open canoes shall be propelled solely by means of single bladed paddles.
2. The paddles may not be supported on the boats in any way.
3. If a competitor loses or breaks a paddle, only a spare carried on the
from the start of the heat may be used in its place.
REASONS for DISQUALIFICATION
A Contestant may be disqualified for:
a. Failure to follow the safety rules;
b. Failure to appear at an assigned
c. Appearing without a correct number
d. Failure to follow the Starter's
e. Appearing in a canoe that has not
been measured and marked.
1. Any competitor who attempts to win a race by other than honorable means,
breaks the racing rules, or who disregards the honorable nature of the racing
2. Should a competitor have completed a race run in a canoe which is shown
inspection to not comply with these rules, the Race Chairperson shall take
action which may include disqualification.
3. The same boat and competitors must be used for the entirety of the
race. If one
team member drops out or if the canoe becomes unusable, the team and
shall be disqualified.
4. No supplies, provisions, or equipment of any kind may be picked up
discarded along the course.
5. No assistance of any kind along the racecourse shall be permitted.
receiving assistance will be disqualified. Safety personnel should not
contestants if the latter specifically refuses help (Unless the safety personnel
believes that it is a life threatening situation). However, once assistance
been accepted, the competitor(s) is automatically disqualified (unless any
competitors is under the age of 19, including mixed age group classes) and
be listed as DNF even if the competitor(s) continues on to the finish line.
6. Any competitor who shall fail to remain on the marked course as outlined
advance by the race organizer, or who makes a portage or portages not marked
as mandatory or optional shall be disqualified, regardless of advantage gained.
7. Failure to perform a work assignment or safety assignment, unless excused,
will entail disqualification for the entire race.
8. Deliberate misrepresentations on an entry form or in statements to
will result in disqualification from the category involved or from the entire
depending on their nature.
Except as required above, the Race Chairperson and Chief Judge may disqualify
a competitor from a single class, or from an entire race, depending on the
and severity of an infraction.
Canoes may be started en mass, singly, or in randomly chosen subgroups
determined by the Race Committee.
It is the duty of the overtaking craft to keep clear at all times of the
being overtaken. However, the craft being overtaken is not allowed to alter
its course to create difficulties for the overtaking craft.
The finishing line is reached when any part of the upright canoe with
in it crosses the finish line. All finish times should be rounded to the nearest
tenth of a second. Except when a class was started en mass and a winner can
be ascertained by visible means, finish times which are the same after rounding
result in a tie.
A competitor's time is complete when he/she crosses the finish line. The
competitor may not cross the finish line more than once.
1. All competitors must wear:
a) U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (life jackets) or the
equivalent over-the-shoulder type.
b) Hard-shelled head protection.
2. It is the responsibility of each contestant to stop racing and assist
competitors in serious personal danger. Failure to do so shall result in lifelong
disbarment from Whitewater Open Canoe Downriver racing.
3. Any boat withdrawing from the race must notify the officials as soon
4. The organizers shall make every effort to provide other safety measures
to the difficulty of the course and the experience of the paddlers. Safety
other safety measures shall be provided along the course.
5. Every reasonable measure must be taken to remove any disabled boats
obstructing the course.
6. Safety personnel should not assist contestants if the latter specifically
However, once assistance has been accepted, the competitor(s) is automatically
(unless any of the competitors in under the age of 19, including mixed age
group classes) and
should be listed as DNF even if the competitor(s) continues on to the finish
7. Competitors must at all times be in a position to free themselves immediately
A Premier competitor may be of either sex and of any age.
A Youth competitor shall be at least 10 years of age and no more than 14 years
of age of as
January 1st of the calendar racing year.
A Cadet Competitor shall be 16 years of age or younger as of January 1st of
A Junior competitor shall be 18 years of age or younger as of January 1st of
A Senior competitor shall be 25 years of age or older as of January 1st of
A Master competitor shall be 40 years of age or older as of January 1st of
A Century team shall have total age of 100 years as of January 1st of the calendar
Note that a person may not be constrained to a specific class; for example,
a youth could
race with a cadet in OC-2 cadet, or with a master in OC-2 cadet senior.
OC-2 Premier any two paddlers
OC-2 Mixed two paddlers, one male, one female
OC-2 Cadet/Srtwo paddlers, one cadet, one senior
OC-2 Women two paddlers, both female
OC-2 Master two paddlers, both master
OC-2 Junior two paddlers, both junior
OC-2 Century two paddlers, ages total 100
OC-1 Premier one paddler
OC-1 Woman one paddler, female
OC-1 Master one paddler, master
OC-1 Junior one paddler, junior
OC-2 Youth two paddlers, both youth
OC-2 Cadet two paddlers, both cadet
Special classes may be formed at the discretion of the organizers of non-championship
when demand for them is sufficient.
MODIFIED USCA RULES
These Rules are to be used as a guide line only.
For complete rules visit the United States Canoe Association .
IT IS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE ORGANIZER TO MODIFY AND/OR APPLY THE APPROPRIATE RULES.
Course: Race course not to exceed Class II (The International Scale
of River Difficulty) water conditions.
Classes: A Sanctioned race sponsor must offer as many USCA
Championship classes as possible, but at least ONE, in order to qualify
Race Changes: Race sponsors cannot change a rule after a race has started.
Race sponsors cannot change the race course after a race has started unless
all the competitors can be notified.
Equipment and Assistance
1. Personal Flotation Devices (PHD): Each competitor must have in
his or her possession during the entire race and easily accessible, a PFD approved
by either the U.S. Coast Guard or the state in which the race is being held, if said
state has specific rules. All youth paddlers 14 years of age and younger are required
to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD at all times during any race. If water
conditions warrant, the race sponsor may require PFD's to be worn by all competitors
or to he readily and easily accessible. When PFD's are required to be worn, they must
be worn as the manufacturer designed them to be worn.
The rules regarding PFD's apply to all events at the USCA races including Downriver
and ICF Marathon kayaks.
2. Paddles: Any number of single blade paddles of any material and size may be in
the canoes. A competitor may use only one paddle at a time. Any number of double
bladed paddles may be used in kayaks only. In the event that a double bladed paddle
is broken, a competitor may finish with the broken paddle.
3. Water Removal: The competitors will be allowed to turn their canoe or kayak upside
down to remove water from it. Non-mechanical bailers (i.e. scoop bailers or sponges) or
any type of person-powered (passive) bailer, pump or siphon may be used in all USCA
canoes and kayaks.
4. Weights and Flotation may be added to canoes or kayaks in order to meet requirements
of minimum weight and buoyancy. The materials used may be at the discretion of the
competitor. All weights and flotation must he securely fastened or permanently built into
the canoe or kayak.
Securely Fastened: When a canoe or kayak is turned upside down or
submerged, the weight or flotation must stay in place.
5. Outside Assistance: Food, drink, clothing, paddles, and equipment other than canoes
may be given to the competitors by spectators (or other competitors) as long as there is
no physical help (in the way of forward motion) or interference with the other paddlers.
Medical help, in case of sickness or injury, may be given to the competitors but
interference with other paddlers should be kept to a minimum.
C. Classifications of Competitors:
1. Fledgling I: Any paddler 5 to 7 years of age as of January 1 of
the current year.
2. Fledgling II: Any paddler 8 to 10 years of age as of January 1 of the current year.
3. Bantam: Any paddler 11 to 12 years old as of January 1 of the
4. Juvenile: Any paddler 13 to 14 years old as of January 1 of the
5. Junior: Any paddler who has not reached age 18 before January 1
of the current year. Recommend a shorter course for this class.
6. Master: Any paddler who has reached age 40. The age
is determined as of race date.
7. Senior: Any paddler who has reached age 50. The age is determined as of race date.
8. Veteran: Any paddler who has reached 60 years of age or over as of race date.
9. Novice: A paddler who has never finished first, second, or third in a race of over
5 miles in which five places have been contended.
a. One paddler is at least 29 years old as of race date.
b. One paddler at least 5 years old who has not reached age 15 before January 1 of the
c. This class will be a shorter distance than the regular course.
a. One person at least 29 years old as of race date.
b. One paddler who qualifies as a junior and is 14 years
younger than the adult partner.
c. The C-2 Adult/Junior Cruiser class will be the same length as the men's competition cruiser
12. Foreign National Competitors: Persons who are not citizens of the
United States and have not resided in the United States for the two years immediately prior to
the National Championships.
13. Other: Juniors may race in men's events, women may race in
men or mixed events, if they wish. Mixed teams may race in men's
events. For Masters, Seniors or Veteran events, paddlers must meet or exceed age requirements.
In youth events, age classification is determined by age of the older youth.
USCA NATIONAL MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS
Equipment: Only competition cruisers may be used in C-1 and C-2 events. Paddles will be single
bladed of any material or size. Kayak events will use tile appropriate kayak and will use double
Rules: All events are governed by the same rules as the Marathon
C-2 Men (C-2M)
C-2 Men Master (C-2MMa)
C-2 Men Senior (C-2MSr)
C-2 Mixed (C-2Mx)
C-2 Mixed Master (C-2 MxMa)*
C-2 Women (C-2W)
C-2 Women Master (C~2WMa)**
C-2 Adult/Youth (C-2 A/Y) became tile following in 1996
C-2 Adult/Fledgling I (C-2 Ad/FIgi)
C-2 Adult/Fledgling If (C-2Ad/FlgII)
C-2 Adult/Bantam (C-2 Ad/Ban)
C-2 Adult/Juvenile (C-2 Ad/Juv)
C-2 Adult/Junior (C-2 Ad/Jr)
K-1 Man Downriver (K-1 MDr)
K-1 Man Open Sea Kayak (K-I MSK)**
K-1 Woman Open Sea kayak (K-I WSK)**
* Special Age Recognition to 1st 50+
F. Youth Sprint Race Events - A separate day (Thursday) began in 1995
Age determined by oldest paddler if both not in same age group.
May enter leach of C-1,C-2,C-2 Mixed and 1K-1 event for a total of 4.
250 meter course
C-2 Bantam (11-12) C-1 Bantam
C-2 Fledgling 11(8-10) C-1 Fledgling II
C-2 Fledgling 1(5-7) C-1 Fledgling I
500 meter course
C-2 Junior Men (l5-17) ff Junior Man
C-2 Junior Women (15-17) C-1 Junior Woman
C-2 Juvenile Male (1 3-14) C-1 Juvenile Male
C-2 Juvenile Female (13-14) C-1 Juvenile Female
K-1 Junior Man Downriver K-1 Junior Woman Downriver
CANOE SPECIFICATIONS AND METHOD OF MEASUREMENT
Competition Cruiser: C-2M, C-2MMa, C-2MSr, C-2MJr, C-2W, C-2Mx,
C-2MxMa, C-2AdY, C-2Adlr, C-IM, CiMMa, C-lMSr, C-1MVet, C-lMJr.
1. Maximum length is 18 feet 6 inches (18'6"). Minimum width shall be
14 3/8% of the length (.14375 times the length) at the 4 inch water line, measured within
12 inches fore and aft of the center of the canoe.
** Method of Measurement M.O.M.) The length shall be measured
between the plumb of the bow and the plumb of the stem and shall include bang plates.
The length measurement shall not include seals extending beyond the stem end of the canoe.
Canoe Stem. The overall length of the boat is taken from a projected
perpendicular, imaginary, line. This method accommodates unusual stems.
The stem or stem may come back toward the bow 1/2 the height of the
stem. Example: Shock wave layout for old Sawyer Champion.
** M.O.M. The width shall be measured horizontally on the exterior of the hull. It shall also
be measured perpendicularly thwartship on the exterior of the hull. No sponson, keel, bilge
keel, fin, encap or other attachment shall be included in any measurement whether built in
or added to the hull.
2. The exterior surface of the transverse cross section below the 7 inch water line shall be
convex, not concave, except at transitions to built in keels.
3. The minimum height at the bow shall be 15 1/2 inches. The minimum
depth for the rest of the canoe shall be 11 1/2 inches.
** M.O.M. The bow height will be measured from the bottom of the canoe
and shall not include any projection of any stem or gunwale beyond the
hull. The minimum depth shall be measured from the bottom of the canoe.
4. The sheer of the gunwale shall have a minimum radius of 30 inches and shall be an integral
part of the boat with a continuous curve.
5. Decks and Float Tanks (shoe, cowl, enclosed dam) may not be more
than 1 1/2 inches above the gunwale at any point. The maximum length of
decks or float tanks shall be 36 inches. (Full decking is not permitted
unless specifically stated in the written rules for a given race.)
** M.O.M. Deck height shall be measured from any point on the deck
thwartship to the gunwale. Seats will not be restricted in placement above the gunwale line.
Deck length shall be measured from the plumb of the stem at its furthermost fore or stem at its
furthermost aft point along the longitudinal axis of the boat.
6. Outwales: Any additions to outwales must be made on the gunwales
and cannot extend more than 1 112 inches outward and downward from the
** M.O.M. Seats shall not be included in measurements of outwales.
7. Flotation: Canoes must have securely fastened or permanently built in flotation to provide
25 pounds of buoyancy when filled with water. Float or air bags can he used in kayaks only.
Securely Fastened: When a canoe is turned upside down or submerged,
the flotation stays in place.
** M.O.M. 25 pounds of solid metal weight will be placed in the boat
amidships. The boat will be filled with water. The boat must float
horizontally in this condition.
8. Water Removal: Any type of person-powered (or passive) bailer,
pump or siphon may be used in any USCA boat (Canoe or kayak.)
9. Rudders: There shall be no mechanical steering devices in any USCA classes except the ICF
Kayak class. This does not include fixed keel or skegs as deemed allowable under present keel
and concavity rules.
10. Materials: Canoes may be made of any material or combination of materials.
11. Reverse rocker specification: The limit of negative rocker (hog) at the 4 inch water line
jig point shall be limited to 1/8 inch at the center of a six (6) foot straight edge along the l
ongitudinal center of the canoe.
**M.O.M. A six foot straight edge shall be placed on the hull
longitudinally in the midline with a 1/8 inch projection at its center. The projection shall be
placed at the intersection of the 4 inch water line jig point. If the projection touches
the canoe, the canoe will pass inspection.
B. Standard: (C-2MStd, C-2MxStd)
All rules for the Competition Cruiser Class will apply except for the
1. The minimum depth amidships shall be 12 inches.
2. The minimum bow and stern height shall be 16 l'2~'.
3. The minimum width at the 4 inch water line shall be 15% of the length (length x 0.15).
4. Standard canoes have a 50 pound minimum weigh! limit. Weight may
be added to light canoes that is securely fastened.
5. Standard canoes may be made of any material or combination of
6. Aluminum canoes: (formerly a separate class)
a. All rules and specifications listed under Competition Cruiser shall
apply to all Aluminum canoes (with the exception of materials of
b. Aluminum canoes shall be the product of a regular manufacturer
who has produced at least 50 canoes of the model in question. The
canoe may be either standard or light-weight. Canoes shall not be
modified except as follows: The canoe may be painted but no
fiberglass, body putty, or material other than paint may be used on the
outside except for the repair of holes. Seats may be moved and seats of
other materials may be substituted. Footbraces and stiffening may be
installed. Decks may be modified and bulkheads removed. Keels may
be modified. Canoes must have sufficient permanently installed
c. Only Aluminum canoes built before 1/1/90, will be permitted to
compete in the standard class.
C. Stock Aluminum: (C-2SAl)
1. Standard type aluminum canoes only, no longer than 18 feet 6 inches.
2. The intention of the stock aluminum class is to have a National
Championship class for stock factory aluminum canoes.
The specifications of a stock canoe have been purposely left off and the canoes
will be judged "stock" by the Competition Chairman and the
Technical Director of Inspection. Most common manufacturers of
aluminum boats will meet this requirement. Approval may be obtained for
a specific model at the Nationals jigging.
3. No modifications can be made to the canoe except seat type and
D. Down River Kayak: (K-1 DR)
International Canoe Federation rules for wild water K-1 will prevail.
1. Maximum Length: 4.5 meters (14 feet 9 3/16 inches)
2. Minimum Width: 60 centimeters (23 5/8 inches)
3. Kayaks can be completely decked and spray skirts used.
4. There must be adequate buoyancy to float the kayak horizontally when
filled with water. Type of buoyancy that is securely fastened or
permanently built-in shall be at the discretion of the paddler.
5. Grab loops or toggles must be affixed to both bow and stern ends of the kayak, but
may be taped down.
6. Wearing of helmets may be required by race sponsors if water
7. Kayaks may be made of any material or combination of materials.
E. International Long Distance Kayak: (IMICF)
International Canoe Federation (ICE) specifications for marathon K-1 and K-2 will prevail.
1. Maximum length K-1: 520 cm (204.72 inches)
Maximum length K-2: 650 cm (255.90 inches)
2. Minimum width K-1: 51 cm (20.08 inches)
Minimum width K-2: 55 cm (21.65 inches)
3. Sections and longitudinal lines of the hull of the kayak shall be convex and not interrupted.
4. Steering rudders are allowed. The maximum thickness of the rudder
must not exceed 10 mm (0.39 in.) in cases where the rudder forms an
extension to the length of the kayak. Any rudder forming a continuation of the length
of a kayak is not to be included in the measurement of length.
5. There must be adequate buoyancy to float the kayak horizontally when
filled with water. The type of buoyancy securely fastened or permanently built-in shall
be at the discretion of the paddler.
6. Kayaks may be completely decked and spray skirts used.
7. Paddles must be double bladed.
8. Kayaks may be made of any material or combination of materials.
F. International Long Distance Canoe: (C-1MICF, C-2MICF)
International Canoe Federation (ICF) specifications for marathon C-1 and C-2 will prevail.
1. Maximum length C-1: 520 cm (204.72 inches)
Maximum length C-2: 650 cm (255.90 inches)
2. Minimum width C-1: 75cm (29.53 inches)
Minimum width C-2: 75 cm (29.53 inches)