Level 3 Sea Kayak Skills

General aims

The Level 3 Sea Kayak Skills Award aims to enable participants to:

  1. Kayak safely and competently in smooth seas (Douglas Sea Scale) as a member of a group of peers.
  2. Paddle competently in following winds, head winds and beams winds of up to force three.
  3. Assist in rescues.
  4. Have an understanding of the importance of weather as a factor in kayaking on the sea.
  5. 2.00    Requirements for the Level 3 Sea Kayak Skills Award






                Assessment Guidelines

Properly equipped kayak:

  • End loops and/or toggles.
  • Suitable buoyancy
  • Suitable foot rest
  • Tow and Deck Lines


Personal kayaking equipment:

  • Paddle
  •  ISO approved Buoyancy Aid
  • ISO approved helmet
  • Spray deck
  • Adequate footwear
  • Wetsuit or dry pants, dry cag or dry suit, combined with sufficient thermal clothing


 Level 3 Sea Kayak Skills Award Guidelines


Entry and Exit

Can be carried out with or without the use of paddles, depending on what is most appropriate to the situation.

Forward and Reverse Paddling

The correct seating position, good trunk rotation, correct width of paddle grip, sufficient power to paddle against the current while the keeping the kayak straight.

Emergency Stop

Using forward and reverse paddling, stopping should be evident within 4 strokes.

Forward and Reverse Sweep Strokes

Candidates should demonstrate effective use of Sweep Strokes on slightly choppy seas.

Draw Stroke

Paddle near vertical, blade well covered, kayak moving in a straight line sideways for at least 5 metres. Top hand pushing while the lower hand is pulling.  The blade must remain in the water throughout. Good body rotation towards the paddling side should be evident.

Sculling Draw

Paddle off vertical, blade covered, kayak moving in a straight line sideways for at least 5 metres. Top hand pushing while the lower hand is pulling with an efficient blade angle. Long strokes while the kayak remains level.

Sculling for Support

Performed sitting upright with the kayak at a precarious angle. The paddle should be kept low with good solid sweeps and confident committal to paddle.

Low Brace Support

The kayak must be sufficiently tilted for water to reach the spraydeck. A good push down with the elbows above paddle and associated kneelift and hip rotation should be evident.

High Brace Support

The water must reach the paddler’s armpit, with good push down. Associated kneelift and hip rotation should be evident.  Paddle shaft no higher than chin level and arms flexed. Must be demonstrated both stationary and in small surf as appropriate.

Low Brace Turn

The Low Brace Turn should be demonstrated in small breaking waves (1 Foot) or in a slightly choppy sea as the conditions allows.


Demonstrate as a skill that assists in the turning of the kayak.

Stern Rudder

Should be performed while on the move, a push pull action should be exhibited as well as good trunk rotation.

Bow Rudder

In the Bow Rudder the paddler should show excellent posture and the kayak should turn effectively.


Paddling in head beam and following winds.

Candidates must demonstrate that they can control their kayak in wind conditions up to Force 3.


Candidates must act as rescuer and rescuee.

Eskimo Rescue

A confident capsize and banging of the hull with the rescuer moving in from a distance of 5 metres.  A first time recovery must follow but two attempts are allowed.  Rescuer should approach from the front, or back, of rescuee to lessen the risk to rescuee’s hand. Paddle or Bow Presentation method may be used.

Capsize Drill in Deep Water

This aspect must be demonstrated both as a rescuee and rescuer.

Weather Forecast

A candidate should be able to record that section of the Marine Forecast that is relevant to their geographical area.  They should be able to describe what conditions are to be expected on the sea in Forces of wind from 1 to 5.

Surf Conditions

This aspect of the assessment involves a candidate demonstrating that they can control their kayak in sea conditions where there are small waves. If there is no surf present on the day of assessment, sea conditions in up to Force 3 winds will suffice.  On no account should candidates be asked to paddle, as part of the assessment, in surf conditions with waves of greater than one foot.

High Tide

The candidate must simply demonstrate that they can ascertain what time high water is at the nearest standard port. They may use newspaper, almanac or local tide guide to get this information. The candidate is not expected to be familiar with secondary ports or how to work out tidal streams etc.