Wildwater, or downriver, consists of racing from a point “A” upstream, directly to a point “B” downstream on a river, as fast as possible.
Athletes try to find the fastest line down the course, maximizing their use of the fastest currents, while avoiding eddies and other features that can slow them down.
Wildwater events are held on class II-IV whitewater, and typically consist of a Classic and a Sprint race:
- Classic course: 6-10 km in length or 20 to 35 minutes in duration,
- Sprint course: between 500 and 750 meters and lasts around 2 minutes.
Although there is some specialization, the vast majority of racers compete in both Classic and Sprint.
Wildwater racing boats are made of stiff and light composite materials. They are very long (approx. 4.5m) and narrow with a rounded hull profile, making them extremely fast, but unstable and hard to turn. Optimum technique involves maintaining forward paddling at all times, making turns by tilting the boat to the outside, and “carving” the turn similar to skiing.