Sea kayaking fundamentals level 1

This is where your journey begins…


The ISKGA Sea Kayaking Fundamentals – Level One is an entry-level course intended for participants who might be classed as beginner sea kayakers. This course is aimed at building-up a novice paddler’s understanding of, and proficiency in, the basics of core Technical; Rescue; Expedition; and Navigational Skills. It is intended that all participants will take time to practice and perfect skills introduced before moving on to the next level.

Course Outcomes:

The planned outcome is to develop an efficient paddler who is environmentally aware; who is able to be safe; and is efficient in basic rescues when required.

Trainer Qualifications: ISKGA Coastal Guide / Advanced Guide.

Environmental Conditions: Up to Beaufort F2. Protected / Sheltered Waters.

Duration: 4 days. Either delivered as a block or over two 2-day periods.

Technical Skills:

  • Efficient Forward Paddling

The aim is to develop effective forward paddling technique over a distance. Participants will be instructed on the benefits of good posture; core body rotation; and efficient power transfer. A participant will be encouraged to experiment with high; mid; and low paddle angles to experience the power difference and their various practical uses.

  • Static Turning

The outcome of instruction will be that a participant is able to show positive core body rotation and paddle positioning, with a foundation application of edge control, to enable an effective turn whilst using forward and reverse sweeping strokes.

  • Turning on the Move

The outcome of instruction will be that a participant is able to apply simple, effective strokes to turn a sea kayak on the move. A participant will be able to demonstrate the foundations of edge control; rudders strokes; and forward / reverse sweep strokes.

  • Moving Sideways

The outcome of instruction will be that a participant is able to demonstrate the beginnings of maneuvering their kayak sideways by showing an understanding of trunk rotation; blade awareness; and inside/outside edge control.

  • Support Strokes

The outcome of instruction will be that a participant is able to demonstrate the foundation technique of high and low recovery stokes.

Rescues and Recovery:

The outcome of instruction will be that a participant is able to effectively rescue a fellow paddler using a variety of techniques and applying the principles of STOP.

  • Rescues:

Deep Water Rescue – Unconscious Capsize Recovery – Self Rescue.

  • Towing Systems:

Demonstrate that they can move a paddler a distance of 20 meters using a Bow Carry and a Toggle Tow.

Expedition Skills:

The outcome of instruction will be that a participant is able to demonstrate an understanding of how to effectively load and prepare a sea kayak for a multi-day voyage. They will be able to show an understanding of the various food options available for expedition paddling. Participant will be introduced to simple camp craft skills such as safe water management; fire preparation; emergency shelter building; and how to manage personal hygiene and waste.

Navigation, Meteorology and Seamanship:

The outcome of instruction will be that a participant understands the importance of completing a Float Plan; having an effective shore support party; and what is required from them. A participant will be given information on the relationship between the HM Coastguard, the RNLI (or other rescue agencies) and sea kayakers. Participants will be shown basic hand and paddle signals.

The participant will be introduced to basic navigation, meteorology and oceanography information. This will include topics such as: differences between an on-shore and off shore wind; the effects of tide and wind; the differences between wind waves and pressure driven waves; the effects of compression on tidal flow, such as headlands, shallow waters etc. Participants will be shown how to take a compass bearing; measuring distance; and determine position. Participants will be informed how to obtain a weather forecast; how to apply these forecasts; and be shown resources for obtaining weather information.

  • Rope work:

At Level One rope work should be introduced to participants and the following outcomes should be achieved – joining two ropes together; creating a knot that can bind and constrict; a ‘Stopper’ knot; and a ‘Hold Fast’ knot.

Version 2.1.o

Review Date: 01 May 2016