Level 4 Canoe Skills

General Aims

The Level 4 Open Canoe Skills Award aims to enable participants to:


During assessment, a participant must successfully explain and demonstrate the following techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 3 Open Canoe skills award and be capable of demonstrating any combination of the strokes competently and efficiently:


  1. Forward Paddle, Reverse Paddle and Emergency Stop
  2. All Sweep strokes, including Outside Pivot Turn and Inside Pivot Turn.
  3. Edging &Trim
  4. Bow Rudder, Cross Bow Rudder, Stern Rudder.
  5. Bow Jam & Cross Bow Jam
  6. Support Strokes
  7. Draw, Sculling Draw and hanging draw strokes
  8. Poling & snubbing in a Grade 1 environment


  1. An ability to use water conditions available for the effective and efficient manoeuvring of an Open Canoe
  2. Competence in negotiating water obstructions i.e. Standing Waves, Stoppers during the course of a trip
  3. Competence in negotiating bends where water flows under trees or against vertical  river bank
  4. Forward Ferry Gliding (facing upriver)
  5. Reverse Ferry Gliding/ Setting (facing downriver)
  6. Breaking in accurately
  7. Breaking out accurately
  8. Controlling a canoe with a pole in a grade 1 environment

Rescues and Safety Techniques

  1. X Rescue
  2. Curl rescue
  3. Self Rescue
  4. Deep Water Rescue of an incapacitated paddler
  5. Rescue and Tow
  6. Offensive and Defensive Swimming
  7. An ability to use a Throw Rope to rescue a swimmer


An understanding of the following:

Applying for Assessment

Before applying to attend a Level 4 Canoe Skills assessment, a candidate must:

  1. Have obtained the Level 3 Canoe Skills Certificate
  2. Be a member of the Canoeing Ireland either as an individual member or as a member of an affiliated club.
  3. Have unrestricted access to a fully equipped open canoe, personal equipment and additional equipment (see Level 4 skills list of equipment)
  4. Be a least 16 years of age.
  5. Member of Canoeing Ireland.


  1. The Level 4 Canoe Skills assessment will take place during a river trip of at least three miles on water of Grade II–III difficulty.
  2.  During assessment candidates must demonstrate all techniques/skills at a skills level higher than that required for the Level 3 Open Canoe skills award in order to achieve this award.  All techniques, skills and rescues must be demonstrated and assessed to the required level in order to achieve this award.
  3. All strokes and techniques must be demonstrated on both sides of the Open Canoe and in relevant situations.
  4.  All rescues must be executed by the candidate acting as both rescuee and rescuer.  Generally the required assessment rescues will be kept until the end of the assessment river trip
  5. While it is not compulsory to attend a training course prior to assessment, it is strongly recommended.

                Assessment Guidelines

                Equipment List required for Assessment

Properly equipped Canoe:

  • Suitable Buoyancy
  • Sufficient length of painters
  • Method of securing paddles

Personal kayaking equipment:

  • Paddle
  • ISO approved Buoyancy Aid with integrated harness
  • Adequate footwear
  • Wetsuit or dry pants, dry cags or dry suit, with sufficient thermal clothing
  • Helmet


Other Equipment:

  • Throw Rope
  •  Knife
  •  4 – 5 m OpenSling
  • Karabiners x 2, one screw gate, one snap gate
  • Towing System
  •  First Aid Kit
  •  Mobile Phone
  • Whistle
  • Torch
  •  Flask and Food
  • Spare Clothes
  • Bivy Bag or group shelter
  • Spare Paddle
  • Repair Kit which should include  duct tape and multi tool (at a minimum)
  • Dry Bag or other method of keeping equipment dry