Celebrate National Go Canoeing Week with our five facts

Did you know that the 28th May to the 5th June is National Go Canoeing Week? The week celebrates everything from canoeing to stand up paddle boarding, and encourages beginners to get out on the water and experience the joys of the sports.

Groups of kayakers taking part in our school residential trips

With this in mind, we have taken a look at some facts about paddle sports that you may or may not have known before, to ensure you are prepared for the upcoming event!

Olympic History

As the Rio Olympics are just around the corner, it is only right to kick our facts off in an Olympic-based manner! Canoeing first appeared in the Olympics in Paris in 1924, and Hungary is the country with the most medals across the disciplines with 77.

Great Britain have won a respectable 13 medals in the canoeing and kayaking, with four of these coming at the London 2012 games.

Historical crafts

The word kayak means “hunters boat” in Inuit, and they were first used by Eskimos for transporting furs, and hunting seals. Eskimos actually built their own kayaks from stretching seal skins over a frame constructed from whale bone.

Like the Eskimos, the North American Indians used the most readily available materials to create their vessels, with canoes being crafted from birch bark, with the joints being held together by the root of the white pine. Unlike seal skin which is naturally waterproof, the North American Indians have to apply hot pine or spruce resin in order to keep their crafts watertight.

Luckily, the crafts used on our school residential trips are fully watertight, and there is not a sniff of sealskin or tree bark in sight!

Ancient canoes

The world’s oldest boat is a canoe, believed to be around 10,000 years old and was discovered in the Netherlands in 1955. Known as the Pesse canoe, it is a dugout canoe which was formed from a single Scotch pine log and it is believed to have been carved using tools created from antler or flint.

Even the Pope loves paddle sports!

Pope John Paul II was an avid kayaker before he became the Pope, and even had a personal folding kayak which he took on holiday. He also entered a number of races, including a particularly unsuccessful one on the Dunajec River in Poland in 1955, where he got a hole in his boat and sunk just before the finish line!

Crossing the Atlantic

The first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a kayak was a 29-year-old WWI war veteran called Franz Romer. He set off from Lisbon in Portugal and arrived in Puerto Rico 58 days and 4000 miles later.

If you are looking to get involved in National Go Canoeing Week for yourself, whether at our activity centre or on your own, you can submit your mileage on the official website and help to contribute to their target of 30,000 miles. More information and interesting facts can be found on the site here.