About canoe slalom and the championships

So, you want to learn about Canoe Slalom and the championships. Well, the 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships will see around 300 of the world’s top athletes head to the Lee Valley White Water Centre to battle it out across a week of high energy competition.

With individual and team events in the men’s and women’s kayak and canoe events, as well as men’s and women’s extreme slalom, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

As well as the World Championship titles on offer, nations will also be competing to qualify boats for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games

A little about canoe slalom

The key things to know about Canoe Slalom are:

  • Paddlers race in categories. There are five categories that paddlers race in: C1M, C1W, K1M, K1W and C2M. C stands for canoe and K for kayak. M stands for male and W for women. Some athletes will compete in both canoe and kayak.
  • C1 are single person canoes. The rules state paddlers kneel in the boat and use a single-bladed paddle to navigate the course. K1 are single person kayaks – where paddlers sit in the boat and use a double bladed paddle to navigate a course. C2 are double person canoes.
  • To win, competitors must navigate the course from the start line to the finish line in the fastest time possible.
  • There are between 18 and 25 green and red gates to navigate between the start and the finish line.
  • The colour of the gates indicates the way paddlers should navigate it. Green gates are downstream gates and red gates are upstream gates. In a nutshell, you go down through the green and up through the red.
  • If you touch or miss a gate you get a time penalty. If you touch a gate, 2 seconds will be added to your time. If you miss a gate, 50 seconds will be added to your time.
  • The gates must be navigated in numerical order. The numbers are shown above the gates.
  • Courses are no longer than 300m in length and paddlers should be aiming to complete the course in between 90-110 seconds.
  • To reach the final and be in with a chance of winning a medal, the paddlers must first qualify through heats and semi-finals. There are 10 athletes in each final.

Vision, Mission, and Values

In order to deliver the very best possible event, we have identified a vision, mission and values for the event.


An outstanding World Championships, creating lasting memories for all involved and positive social impact within British Canoeing and surrounding communities.


Creating an event that drives elite success, delivers our innovative ambitions, and is an inspiring platform to shape, encourage and celebrate our collective actions and impact of our wider communities.


Every person matters – athletes, staff, spectators, volunteers, officials, partners and sponsors. A positive experience for everyone involved in the championships.

Innovative mindset – approach key projects with an ambition to deliver them better than before.

Striving for excellence – using the best slalom venue in the world, we aim for excellence in every aspect of event delivery.

Driven by purpose – use the platform of the championships to create positive environmental and social change.