The information in this document has been based on the Paddle Australia (PA) Safety Guidelines, which define the minimum standards for the conduct of safe, non-competitive canoeing and kayaking activities. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action because of any material in these guidelines can be accepted.
PA Qualification Scheme qualifications are defined in the Award Scheme Handbook. For more information on the Scheme see this document Paddle Australia Qualification Scheme.
Adelaide Canoe Club’s grading scheme has been designed to:
- assist event leaders in grading on-water activities, considering weather and sea conditions forecast or actual for the duration of the event
- assist members to gauge their current skills and ability to participate in proposed events successfully and safely.
Club members must be aware that paddling on the ocean is generally more physically demanding than on sheltered waters and that a reasonable level of fitness will be required to paddle even moderate distances. The paddler grade (formal or informal) that you have achieved at any time does not necessarily mean that you are able to paddle at that level on a given day. If you have any doubts about your fitness or ability to paddle at the expected level, you should disclose all your concerns to the event contact person and/or leader well before the event.
The ACC grading system includes rescue skills. All paddlers on a club trip are encouraged and expected to contribute to the safety and successful completion of the trip. Club trips are planned and led by leaders who are PA qualified and whose formal qualification determines the required minimum grade of paddlers’ skills and appropriate conditions. The trip leader has the right and responsibility to refuse any paddler who does not meet the required standard or does not have the required equipment for the trip.
Equipment essential at all levels: see Paddle Australia Safety Guidelines. Please take special note re PFDs and footwear. Note also the requirements listed in the SA recreational boating safety handbook.
Basic Skills requirements can be found in Paddle Australia’s Basic Skill Awards.
New members and those on a “Come and try” activity will be closely supervised and taught basic skills in safe controlled conditions such as on West Lakes or Encounter Lakes — winds below 11 knots. Equipment may be provided, but each paddler should be aware of correct clothing (see Equipment) and expect to be getting wet as part of normal capsize and rescue drills.
Flatwater (modified from PA Flatwater Skills)
Flatwater skills can be found in Paddle Australia’s Flatwater Awards.
Demonstrate the ability to control a craft in moderate conditions on flat, sheltered water:
- Launch and land efficiently
- Paddle the craft efficiently in moderate winds
- Forwards, backwards, sideways and turning
- Using correct forward, reverse, draw and sweep strokes.
- Show efficient use of support strokes. Capsize and swim craft ashore
- Competently participate in simple rescues as rescuee and rescuer.
- Competently accept a tow.
West Lakes: from Paddle SA boat ramp, along eastern side of lake, to the footbridge (and beach at Corcoran Drive), in 30 minutes without stopping (only brief pauses for a drink): approx. 2 km, speed 4 km/h. Can have a break on beach then paddle back non-stop in 30 minutes.
Need kayak with spray deck (and buoyancy) or sit-on-top (or open canoe, for river trips only)
Once all the skills in Flatwater have been achieved and demonstrated then members have a range of club day trips to attend. Participation in trips on moving water, e.g., Murray backwaters, requires Moving Water Endorsement. Overnight Camping Endorsement is required for overnight camps.
A possible progression is: day trips, car camping trips, canoe/kayak camping.
Enclosed Sea (Barker Inlet, Coorong)
Enclosed Sea skills can be found in Paddle Australia’s Sea Awards.
Demonstrate the ability to plan and conduct personal day-based activities in sea kayaks (and SOTs) in Enclosed Sea conditions. Adelaide Canoe Club will use this for grading skills in sea kayaks and SOTs, in coastal conditions defined as:
- Within estuaries, harbours, embayments or other sheltering reefs or islands
- Distances of up to two nautical miles offshore
- Conditions below Fresh (17 knots) as defined by the Beaufort Scale and used by the Bureau of Meteorology
- Breaking (white capping) waves (sea) up to 0.5 m
- No surf
Skill component (add to Flatwater) kayaking skills in coastal conditions:
- Secure equipment to craft in preparation for paddling
- Paddle efficiently in conditions below Fresh (winds to 17 knots):
- paddle forwards, backwards, sideways and turning using correct forward, reverse, draw and sweep strokes
- support strokes using back of blade
- bow and stern rudder strokes
- Secure craft for transport.
- Competently participate in appropriate rescues as rescuee and rescuer.
- Recognise signals used at sea.
West Lakes: from Paddle SA boat ramp, around Delfin Island and back to ramp. Total time, including breaks, less than 2 hours. (Trips could be 11 nm/20 km per day.)
Need sea kayak or sea-capable SOT for all sea trips. Smaller kayaks only in estuaries, mangrove areas and metro beaches.
A possible progression is: day and weekend trips, extended trips.
Sea skills can be found in Paddle Australia’s Sea Awards.
Demonstrate the ability to plan and conduct personal day-based activities in sea kayaks in Sea conditions. Adelaide Canoe Club will use this for grading skills in sea kayaks and SOTs, in coastal conditions defined as:
- Outside of estuaries, harbours, embayments or other sheltering reefs or islands
- Areas of exposed coastline that are simple, not involving overfalls or tidal races
- Difficult landings or open crossings may be included
- Maximum of 5 nautical miles from shore
- Wind conditions below Strong Wind Warning (26 kn)
- Breaking (whitecapping) waves (sea) up to 1.0 meter, surf to 1.0 meter
West Lakes: from Paddle SA boat ramp, around Delfin Island and back to ramp without stopping (only brief pauses for a drink) in less than 75 minutes: average speed 3 knots (5.5 km/h). Show ability to maintain this speed for up to 11 nm/20 km per day in unprotected coastal waters.
The holder of the award “Senior Sea Instructor” is qualified to guide and instruct individuals or groups from novices to instructors on activity and day based programs in sea kayaks in Sea conditions:
- Outside of estuaries, harbours, embayments or other sheltering reefs or islands. Difficult landings or open crossings may be included
- Maximum of 5 nautical miles from shore
- Wind conditions below Gale Warning (34 knots)
- Breaking (whitecapping) waves (sea) up to 3.0 meters
- Surf to 2.0 meters