World Championships

World Championships begun with Canoe Sprint

The first ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships were held in Vaxholm, Sweden on the outskirts of Stockholm back in 1938.

There were three Men’s Canoe events (C1, C2, C4) all contested over 1000m, and seven Men’s Kayak events (K1 1000m, 10,000m and 10,000m folding; K2 1000m, 10,000m and 10,000m folding; and the K4 1000m). Women raced in two events, the K1 and K2 600m.

Germany and Sweden dominated the medal tables; Sweden won no less than five of the 12 available golds, whilst Germany took home four.

Unfortunately, World War II broke out a year later and the Canoe Sprint World Championships took a forced 10-year break.

In 1948, the canoeing world reconvened in London, England for the second ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.

All go for Canoe Slalom

One year later, in 1949, Canoe Slalom saw its first World Championship in Geneva, Switzerland. The Men’s C1 and C2 each had two events: the team and individual races, while the Men’s and Women’s K1 races were held in folding Kayaks in both team and individual races.

From then on Canoe Slalom World Championships were held every odd year until 1999, after which they have been an annual event starting in 2002, with the exception on Olympic years.

Canoe Sprint, on the other hand has been held every year (except an Olympic year) since 1970.

Host Organising Committees

Host Organising Committees bid to hold a World Championship four years in advance. The winning bids then work in close collaboration with the ICF Headquarters to ensure successful delivery of the event.

World Championships are held over four days from Thursday to Sunday, with finals split over the weekend.
Over the years, the programmes have varied and moved with the times. More recent additions include Women’s Canoe in both sprint and slalom, and the addition of Paracanoe to the sprint programme.

There are also separate slalom and sprint Junior and U23 World Championships; these are held every year and are intended to bridge the gap between youth and senior competition.

Non-Olympic and Paralympic Disciplines

In addition to Canoe Sprint, Slalom and Paracanoe, the ICF governs six other disciplines that each contest World Championships.

Canoe Marathon and Dragon Boat racing are each contested annually. However, Dragon Boat alternates between club and country championships each year.

Wildwater Sprint is also an annual event, with the classic variant added to the programme every alternate year. These competitions can last for up to a week and can include Junior and an U23 class.

Canoe Polo and Canoe Freestyle alternate between World Cup year and a World Championship year. Canoe Polo World Championships are every even year, whilst Canoe Freestyle World Championships are every odd year.

Ocean Racing (Surfski) is a biannual event that commenced in 2013.