How to Get Started
Racing Whitewater Slalom

Why Race at all?
Once a paddler has had enough formal instruction to have mastered the fundamentals of canoeing, the next step is to get experience. A slalom course simulates a river run in a condensed form, without all the flatwater. So running a slalom course several times in a day simulates several days cruising a river. However, the environment is much better. Where else can you watch paddlers better than you doing the same thing you're trying to do, and if you screw it up will help you get out of the water. In fact, most competitors will give you hints and pointers, unless you are only a second behind them in the competition!

Description of a Slalom Course:
The object of slalom racing competition is to negotiate a rapid river course, defined by gates, without fault (touching or striking a gate), in the shortest possible time. The course consists of a maximum of 25 gates of which approximately 20% are upstream gates. The length of the course will vary based on the level of the competition, but in general the course will be from one hundred to three hundred meters long. The gates are to be negotiated in numerical order, in accordance with the direction established by the clear side of the number panels, (green gates downstream and red gates upstream). Penalties are assessed for touching or missing gates which are added to the running time in seconds for a total score for the run. Low score wins!

How a Race Operates:
While national and international competitions use volunteers to operate the race, local races use the competitors themselves. At the local level, it takes about twenty to twenty-four people to fill the positions of gate judges, start personel, timers, finish judges, scoring personel, and at least a couple of officials. Needless to say, the national and international level, many times that number are required to run an efficient competition. In order to fill these positions at a local race, the competition is divided into sessions. Half of the competitors race while the other half operate the event. When the session is completed the competitors switch places and the second half of the race is completed.

How Scoring is done:
Scoring for open and closed boats is slightly different. The penalty for a fault, touching a gate, is ten seconds for open boats. New rules for 1997 alter the penalty for closed boats from five to two seconds per touch. Both receive fifty penalty seconds for missing gate, incorrect negotiation (wrong way), non-continuous negotiation, or intentional pushing of a gate to allow negotiation. Penalties are added together and then added to the running time in seconds for a total score for the run. Open boats are ranked using the better of the two runs, and use the better non-counting run of two competitors to break a tie. Closed boats add the two runs together and if there's a dead heat, a tie is declared. DNF's for closed boats recieve a score of 999.99.

How to actually get started:
  • Arrange to attend the Clinic described in this Web Site.
  • Browse through this Web Site and print important pages, including entry forms.
  • Put yourself on one of our mailing lists by clicking on: Mailing List Form
  • Start with Class 1 & 2 races. Some even have Beginner Classes.

  • You are visitor number to this page!

    ACA Atl Div Open Canoe Slalom Committee
    A-SLALOM - Last Updated: