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2325 County Road 14 Snead, AL 35952
Locust Fork River, Blount County, Alabama
Canoeing is a paddle sport in which you kneel or sit facing forward in an open-decked canoe, and propel yourself with a single-bladed paddle, under your own power. Kayaking is a similar activity in a kayak which usually has a closed deck and is propelled with a double bladed paddle. In a kayak the paddler typically sits with legs extended forward.
In some situations canoeing refers to both canoeing and kayaking. Other than by the minimum competition specifications (typically length and width (beam) and seating arrangement it is difficult to differentiate most competition canoes from the equivalent competition kayaks. The most common difference is that competition kayaks are always seated and paddled with a double-bladed paddle, and competition canoes are generally kneeled and paddled with a single-bladed paddle. Exceptions include Canoe Marathon (in both European and American competitive forms) and sprint (high kneeling position). The most traditional and early canoes did not have seats, the paddlers merely knelt on the bottom of the boat. Recreational canoes and kayaks employ seats and whitewater rodeo and surf variants increasingly employ the use of 'saddles' to give greater boat control under extreme conditions.
Canoeing began to meet the simple needs of transportation across and along waterways. Canoeing was the primary mode of long-distance transportation at one time throughout much of North America, the Amazon Basin, and Polynesia, among other locations. As a method of transportation, canoes have generally been replaced by motorized boats, airplanes, railroads and roads with increasing industrialisation, although they remain popular as recreational or sporting watercraft.
The origin of canoeing as a recreation and sport is often attributed to Scottish explorer John MacGregor (1825–1892), who was introduced to canoes and kayaks on a camping trip in Canada and the US in 1858. On his return to the United Kingdom, he constructed his own canoes and used them on waterways in various parts of Britain, Europe and the Middle East. He wrote a popular book about his experiences; "A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe" and founded the Royal Canoe Club in 1866. The first canoeing competition, the Paddling Challenge Cup, was held by the club in 1874. In 1924, canoeing associations from Austria, Germany, Denmark and Sweden founded the Internationalen Representation for Kanusport (IRK), forerunner of the International Canoe Federation. Canoeing became an Olympic sport in Berlin in 1936.
The main form of competitive sport using canoe and kayaks is canoe racing. Other competitive styles include canoe polo, playboating, extreme racing, and surf skiing.
Other recreational aspects of canoeing are not strictly defined, and distinctions are rather artificial and growing increasingly blurred as new hybrid canoes, kayaks, and similar craft are developed. Some of these forms may be nominally organised at national levels, but are largely individual, group, or club activities. For many groups there is no emphasis on training, the goal is simply to use boats to have fun on the water.
Small-craft Sailing – Developed by kayak enthusiasts, small-craft sails enhance the paddling experience for canoeists too. Small-craft sails such as the WindPaddle either augment the effort of paddling or effectively eliminate the need for paddling. They are great for touring, and have established a strong following with recreational canoeists, sea kayakers, expedition paddlers and adventure racers.
Whitewater – paddling down whitewater rivers for fun, recreation, or getting away from it all. Can vary from short local trips on easy grade rivers, to extreme expeditions on raging torrents in remote locations for many days carrying all equipment. Whitewater Kayaking is probably the most popular form of canoeing (as the word is used in Europe), with Whitewater Canoeing in open canoes gaining more and more popularity lately for its bigger challenge and higher technical skill needed to tackle the same grade of whitewater as compared to paddling it in a kayak. This development has been marked by several new whitewater open boats hitting the market during the last three years, more than in the decade before that, especially PE boats fit for harder "creeking" style paddling.
Sea kayak – recreational (touring) kayaking on the sea. Includes everything from short day trips to year-long expeditions, may include paddling on heavy seas, in surf, or in tidal currents, and usually requires navigational skills.
Playboating – surfing and performing tricks on one feature on a river.
Canoe camping, Touring, Tripping, or Cruising – combines canoeing/kayaking with camping.
Marathon canoeing, for example
Verlen Kruger – marathon canoeist having paddled nearly 100,000 miles (160,000 km), including 2 trips over 20,000 miles (32,000 km)
Don Starkell – paddled a distance of 12,181 miles (19,603 km) from Winnipeg to Belém, Brazil