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Five of the common differences between Kayaking and Canoeing

Sivaramakrishnan S

Kayaking and Canoeing

In Rio Olympics 2016, two forms of rowing were similar: Kayaking and Rowing. While India didn’t qualify in either, it is still important to understand the differences in order to appreciate both the sports. The differences between these two sports are ambiguous for the viewers and hence we would like to remove the confusions. In this article we clarify five of the common differences between Kayaking and Canoeing.

Canoes and Kayaks have been around for thousands of years. In fact, the first canoes were simply hollowed-out trees. Kayaks were developed by the Inuit peoples of the Arctic specifically for fishing and hunting.

Both are light weight boats used in rivers and lakes. They are powered by humans using a paddle, a short pole with a broad blade at one or both ends. Both can be used in shallow water and both are used for recreational activities.

Kayaking and Canoeing
Kayaks are enclosed and employ double handed paddle
Kayaking and Canoeing
Canoes are open and employ single handed paddle
Way of sitting

Kayak : In Kayaks, paddlers sit on bottom with stretched legs

Canoe: In canoes, generally there is a sit on which the paddler sits. In a few cases where there are no seats, the paddlers kneel down.


Type of Paddles

Kayak : Paddlers use a double-handed paddle for manoeuvring the kayaks.

Canoe : Paddlers single-handed paddle for manoeuvring the canoes.

Type of Deck

Kayak: The kayak is closed in structure i.e. the inside of the boat is enclosed and surrounds the paddler

Canoe: The decks of canoes are open i.e. inside of the boat is open and uncovered


Kayak: Kayaks are very agile and hence speed is more

Canoe: The speed of canoes are relatively lower, but stability and space is more


Kayak: They are like sports cars and can carry fewer passengers and supplies

Canoe: They are like SUVs. They are used for recreational activities and can carry more people and supplies.

About the author

Sivaramakrishnan S

Sivaramakrishnan S

I love sports. I’m currently pursuing MBA and despite the rat race that’s going on around me, I still like watching test matches. I'm passionate about Chelsea and CSK.

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