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British Canoeing - Canoe Open Water Leader

Course Dates & Booking

Book Now

To book a place on this course, click on a date above to book and pay for the course, then complete and submit the Booking Form. If the following dates are not suitable, or you want to make a private booking for your club or centre, please get in touch.

Course Overview

The British Canoeing Canoe Open Water Leader course will give you the skills required to take groups out on lakes and lead canoe journeys on most days of the year. The beautiful lakes of Cumbria are the perfect location for developing your leadership skills on open water. Based in the moderate open water environment (500 meters offshore with up to and including force 4 winds), the Canoe Open Water Leader award is one of the most appropriate awards for leading canoe journeys whether from a centre, freelance or within the club structure. As with all new British Canoeing leadership assessments, you can choose to access the assessment directly without the need for formal training, however we also offer a variety of training options.


We run official British Canoeing Canoe Leader Open Water training courses over two days and can arrange bespoke training, either 1:1 for your individual needs or as a closed course for your centre or group. 


We look at tools for assessing your group's ability and how to match this information with planning the day and leadership options for individuals in the group. We cover open water group management options for crossings; strategies for making efficient upwind and downwind progress; recap rescue techniques; and look at a variety of simple sailing strategies, from classic options to our own quick to rig setups. All this allows you to choose the options that work best for you and the people you lead in the future. You'll leave the course with plenty of skills to choose from and a clear picture of how to continue developing these skills. With many years of experience leading paddlers on open water, we have loads of tips and tricks to give you to make planning and leading open water journeys slick, fun and relaxing.


Training Prerequisites

Go paddling! Go and plan and paddle a new journey for yourself, or create some challenging days on open water for yourself. To get the most from the training course, you should be able to paddle in force 3 winds comfortably.


Our aim is to create relaxed, supportive, and friendly assessments that reflect a real day guiding clients. This one day assessment will involve you planning and leading your group on an open water journey on a large lake in force 4 winds. To be successful, you will need to demonstrate your ability to lead the group in an appropriately challenging way for their abilities and aims. We’ll also create opportunities for you to demonstrate that you can rescue yourself and the people you're looking after in an open water setting.

Assessment Prerequisites

  • Full, on the water National Association membership. Click here if you live in England, here if you live in Wales and here if you live in Scotland.

  • Register for the course through your membership portal. Click here for registration guidance. 

  • Valid (within 3 years) 2- day First Aid Award recognised by British Canoeing Awarding Body

  • Valid (within 3 years) Safeguarding Training recognised by British Canoeing Awarding Body

  • Minimum age: 16. If you are aged under 18, you will need to be joined by a parent or legal guardian who has also paid to do the course/assessment.

Course Documents

Further information available from British Canoeing here.

Kit List

Full personal kit, including:

  • Canoe suitably out-fitted for open water, with flotation fitted (your performance will be significantly helped by having a kneeling thwart fitted in the right position)

  • Well-fitting white water helmet

  • Paddle

  • Buoyancy aid

  • Dry suit or cag and waterproof trousers

  • Thermals

  • River shoes or old trainers (not wetsuit boots)


Please don't buy new items for the course, it is a great opportunity to try different options and make an informed purchase after. If you need any kit advice or to borrow anything, please get in touch before the course. Canoes and dry suits are available for hire


We’ll base the course on the Lakes of the Lake District. To make best use of the conditions we’ll choose the precise location based on the forecast immediately prior to the course. We'll confirm the meeting point for the first day at least 3 days prior to the course. If you are booking accommodation, Kendal or Ambleside are the ideal spots to base yourself as it provides the best access to the surrounding lakes.

What Happens Next?

Once you have completed your training, you’ll leave with a clear action plan for your progression towards assessment. To develop your paddling further, you may be interested in a bespoke coaching session or our Canoe White Leader or Lakes Canoe White Water Progression courses. When you are ready for assessment please book on the dates available below.

Book Now

To book a place on this course, click above to book and pay for the course then complete and submit the Booking Form. If the following dates are not suitable, or you want to make a private booking for your club or centre, please get in touch.

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