Origin of the Sport

The kayak – where athletes paddle from a sitting position with a double-blade paddle – is believed to have originated from Greenland when it was used as a basic means of transportation for hunting and fishing. The canoe – paddled from a kneeling position with a single-blade paddle - was used on a much wider scale from Native American tribes to Polynesia for transport, trade and warfare. This later developed into a sport divided into various disciplines during the 20th century such as canoe sprint, canoe slalom, canoe marathon, dragon boating and canoe polo. The International Canoe Federation was formed in 1946. Canoe-Kayak has feature continuously as part of the Olympic programme since 1936. Flatwater canoeing and Canoe Slalom are a current part of the Olympic programme.

How it Works

Flatwater canoe-kayak takes place over 200m, 500m and 1000m (in lanes) and 5000m (mass start). Competitions are divided into canoes and kayaks with canoe competition for one or two people per boat and kayak for one, two or four people per boat. The first boat across the line is declared the winner.

With its roots in China, the sport of dragon boat racing see competitors compete in a team racing (in lanes) over a range of distances. The sport of Waka Ama – which can be traced back to the Pacific region – compete over sprint distances (in lanes) and marathon distance (mass participation).

Canoe Slalom racing is hosted on a natural or man-made white water course in which competitors race in either a kayak (one person) or canoe (one or two person) in an effort to navigate through a number of hanging gates in the quickest possible time.

The team sport of canoe polo - played in either a swimming pool or flat stretch of water - involves five players on the pitch (and up to three substitutes), who compete to score in their opponents goal suspended two metres above the water. The ball can be thrown by hand or flicked by the paddle to pass between players.

Format at World Masters Games

It is proposed that the Flatwater events will be contested in age divisions of five years from 35+ up to 70+. The sprint Kayak events K1, K2 and K4 will take place over 200m, 500m and 1000m in lanes. Marathon Kayak K1 and K2 and Ocean Ski K1 and K2 will be mass start races.

The Canoe Slalom age divisions will mirror the canoe sprint/marathon/ocean ski divisions. Each competitor will compete on the course twice with the lowest cumulative time declared the winner. There will be K1, C1, C2 and teams competitions.

The Waka Ama competition will be grouped in age divisions of ten years apart from +40 all the way up +70. The dragon boat races will be held in lanes over a 200m sprint distance and be contested in 40+ and 50+ age categories. The Waka Ama sprint races over 500m & 1000m will be contested in lanes in one person, six person and 12-person boats.  Waka Ama will also host mass start marathon races of +25km for one and six person boats.

Canoe Polo will be divided into two age divisions 30+ and 45+.  Teams will be grouped in a round robin tournament with the latter stages of the competition in an elimination format.

Expected Number of Competitors: 1850


Lake Pupuke will host the Flatwater, Flatwater Marathon, Waka Ama (sprints) and Dragon Boating events.  Lake Pupuke Quarry will play host to Canoe Polo.  Waka Ama (Marathon) and Ocean Ski will be based on Takapuna Beach and WERO Whitewater Park will host Canoe Slalom.

Kiwi Hero:  Ian Ferguson

The Taumarunui-born flatwater kayaker is New Zealand’s most successful Olympic athlete after enjoying a gold-laden career. Competing across five Olympic Games between 1976-1992 he secured four gold medals including three in the K1 and K2 500m races and K4 1000m at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The New Zealand flag bearer at the 1988 Olympics he went on to a gold in the K2 500m and silver in the K2 1000m at those Seoul Games with his long-time kayak partner  Paul MacDonald. During a glorious career ‘Ferg’ also secured two world titles.

Did you know: A K1 boat is 5.2m long and weighs 12kg.

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