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.

This is intended for a guideline for new paddlers and is nowhere near complete. Each organizer
knows his/her river or course and knows what rules are necessary and what ones to
waive. If in doubt check with the organizer.


  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 use.
In general, ABS, polyethylene, aluminum and wood/canvas canoes will qualify for inclusion 
(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, not
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. This weight
includes all permanent fixtures and all flotation used for the race, but does not include
paddles, containers, unattached portage yokes or other removable equipment. Legal fixtures
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 the
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 inches measured
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 of the
inwale except where it merges into or is under possible decks.   

  6. Length of deck shall not exceed 36 inches, measured parallel to the centerline, from
the extreme end of the hull to the extreme end of the deck. No part or attachment of the
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 or sponges.   

  8. There shall be no devices to assist portaging other than carrying yokes, pads,
tumplines, and bow and stern lines.   

  9. Flotation is used to protect the paddler, the equipment, safety personnel and
bystanders who may offer assistance, yet should not be so excessive that the open
canoeing tradition is compromised.   

  There must be enough permanent flotation (air bags excluded) to float the canoe
and a 25 lb. weight placed at midship horizontally if the canoe is full of water. If
not, sufficient flotation must be added to do so, in accordance to the flotation
rules below.

  Flotation added to the original hull is limited to a maximum of 10 feet of length
along the canoe and all flotation within the front 6 feet of the canoe must be under
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 for
weight.  Competitors under 19 years of age may add additional floatation to their
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 of the

  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 by
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

  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 boat
from the start of the heat may be used in its place.

A Contestant may be disqualified for:

        a. Failure to follow the safety rules;

        b. Failure to appear at an assigned start time;

        c. Appearing without a correct number bib;

        d. Failure to follow the Starter's orders; or

        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, or who
breaks the racing rules, or who disregards the honorable nature of the racing rules shall
be disqualified.   

  2. Should a competitor have completed a race run in a canoe which is shown upon
inspection to not comply with these rules, the Race Chairperson shall take appropriate
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 canoe
shall be disqualified.   

  4. No supplies, provisions, or equipment of any kind may be picked up or intentionally
discarded along the course.   

  5. No assistance of any kind along the racecourse shall be permitted. Paddlers
receiving assistance will be disqualified.  Safety personnel should not assist
contestants if the latter specifically refuses help (Unless the safety personnel
believes that it is a life threatening situation).  However, once assistance has
been accepted, the competitor(s) is automatically disqualified (unless any of the
competitors is 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 line. 

  6. Any competitor who shall fail to remain on the marked course as outlined in
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 Officials
will result in disqualification from the category involved or from the entire race,
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 nature
and severity of an infraction.     


 Canoes may be started en mass, singly, or in randomly chosen subgroups as
determined by the Race Committee.   

  It is the duty of the overtaking craft to keep clear at all times of the boat
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 paddlers
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 other
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 as possible.   

  4. The organizers shall make every effort to provide other safety measures according
to the difficulty of the course and the experience of the paddlers. Safety boats and/or
other safety measures shall be provided along the course.   

  5. Every reasonable measure must be taken to remove any disabled boats or equipment
obstructing the course.  

  6. Safety personnel should not assist contestants if the latter specifically refuses help.
However, once assistance has been accepted, the competitor(s) is automatically disqualified
(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 line.

  7. Competitors must at all times be in a position to free themselves immediately from their


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 the calendar
racing year.

A Junior competitor shall be 18 years of age or younger as of January 1st of the calendar
racing year.

A Senior competitor shall be 25 years of age or older as of January 1st of the calendar
racing year.

A Master competitor shall be 40 years of age or older as of January 1st of the calendar
racing year.

A Century team shall have total age of 100 years as of January 1st of the calendar racing

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.

Different  Classes

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 races
when demand for them is sufficient.

Flat Water Rules

These Rules are to be used as a guide line only. 
For complete rules visit the United States Canoe Association .

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 for sanctioning. 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 current year. 4. Juvenile: Any paddler 13 to 14 years old as of January 1 of the current year. 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. 10. Adult/Youth: 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 current year. c. This class will be a shorter distance than the regular course. 11 Adult/Junior: 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 class. 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 bladed paddles. Rules: All events are governed by the same rules as the Marathon Championships. 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 hull. ** 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 below: 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 materials. 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 construction). 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 flotation. 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 placement changes. 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 conditions warrant. 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)