Now that boater-X is becoming one of the main events at competitions, it’s even being pushed toward the Olympic stage in the form of ‘Extreme Slalom‘. It’s time to ask, what is boater-X? Why is it so popular right now? And where can I try it? (If you’re looking for our list of boater-X events happening soon, you can jump to the end)

It’s a jungle out there

A head-to-head race with anything between two and six (as many as you want really) with a bunch of obstacles along the way – it’s action-packed! Sliding off a start ramp side-by-side with lots of obstacles, slalom gates or must make moves, there’s always some jostling for position. The usual rule is that you have to keep both hands on your paddle but that’s about it. This makes the racing extremely exciting! It adds a whole new level to a familiar stretch of river you may have lapped a thousand times. There is a heightened chance of upset or accident, but in my experience at least, even minor injuries are pretty rare.

Rubbing is racing – at the Cardiff mid-winter Boater X series

It’s a great spectator sport

With a short course and friends to heckle or support, it’s great fun to watch! Love contact sport? Love whitewater racing? Then grab your popcorn and pull up a chair because you’re probably going to witness some carnage and some quality racing! Boater-X is usually the one that draws a good crowd at events.

Anyone can win

Sure, being fast will give you an advantage, but nothing is guaranteed in boater-X. Quite often you’re starting from a ramp or a riverbank so naturally, the person closest to downstream is likely to get a better start, this is often made fairer by swapping positions after each heat. Secondly, it’s hard to paddle fast if you can’t even get a blade in the water, or you have other boaters pushing you off line. And finally, the mandatory obstacles, eddies or finish move can often see a clear winner dethroned with one mistake at a critical moment. With all this going on, anyone can slip in front and take the win!

Anyone can take part

Everyone is welcome. There’s always a category for men and women and quite often there will be a kids category, so even the youngsters can let off some steam on the race course. Depending on the venue, a variety of abilities can enter, as you don’t always need to be the fastest or the best to win – you never know! This open door attitude generally draws a lot of competitors and the more people that compete, the more exciting the racing.

Get involved!

Here is a list of five upcoming European boater-X events for you to get involved with …

  • Cardiff International Whitewater: the annual Paddle Fest event held on the 6th May this year at CIWW holds a pretty popular boater-X on their artificial course with a challenging course. These guys also hold a boater-X series throughout the Winter so be sure to look out for the dates over on their Facebook page.
  • King of the Alps: this is an extremely competitive race but it begins with a mass start of a hundred paddlers to seed people into the final which is a time trial. Being involved in such a massive boater-X is surely spectacular and not to be missed! King of the Alps is held on the 8th – 10th June this year on the river Passer in South Tyrol, Northern Italy.
  • Garry boater-X: held on the Dam release section of the river Garry in Scotland this class 3 boater-X seems to draw quite a crowd, be sure to involve Garry boater-X in your summer boating this July on the 28th.
  • Lee Valley: if you want a chance at representing GB in boater-X then get yourself down to the Extreme Canoe Slalom selection event down in London’s artificial course on the 21st/22nd of April, bring fast thoughts with you!
  • GermanyPalm ambassador Malte also has a bit of a passion for boater-X over in Germany and has organised five events from April to October. For dates and locations check out Projekt-KFT on Facebook and be sure to get racing if you’re in the area!

These are just to name a few, if we’ve missed your favorite boater-X, let us know!