Level 4

General aims

The Level 4 Kayaking Skills Award aims to enable candidates to:

  1. Kayak safely and proficiently on rivers up to and including Grade III difficulty as part of a group of peers.
  2. Be capable of negotiating obstacles likely to be encountered on Grade III rivers.
  3. Deal competently with rescue situations that might occur on rivers up to and including rivers of Grade III difficulty.
  4. Develop group awareness.



To obtain the Level 4 Kayak Skills Award a participant must successfully explain and demonstrate the following techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 3 Kayak Skills Award and be capable of demonstrating any combination of the strokes competently and efficiently.


  1. Forward Paddle, Reverse Paddle, Emergency Stop.
  2. Forward Sweep, Reverse Sweep and a combination of Forward and Reverse Sweep.
  3. Edging
  4. Draw Stroke
  5. Sculling Draw
  6. Hanging Draw
  7. Low Brace
  8. High Brace
  9. Sculling for Support
  10. Stern Rudder
  11. Bow Rudder


  1. An ability to use water conditions available for the effective and efficient manoeuvring of a kayak.
  2. Competence in negotiating water obstructions i.e. Standing Waves, Stoppers, and an ability to utilise it to cross a river.
  3. Competence in negotiating bends where water flows under trees or against vertical riverbank.
  4. Forward Ferry Gliding.
  5. Reverse Ferry Gliding.
  6. Breaking In accurately.
  7. Breaking Out accurately.

Rescues and Safety Techniques

  1. An X Rescue and/or Assisted X Rescue.
  2. Eskimo Rescue (maximum lower body rotation).
  3. Eskimo Roll.
  4. Capable of Self-Rescue.
  5. Curl Rescue and/or TX Rescue.
  6. Stern Carry.
  7. Unconscious Casualty (method of righting an unconscious person in a capsized kayak).
  8. An ability to manoeuvre an empty kayak between two specified points.
  9. An ability to assist an incapacitated paddler in a kayak between two specified points.
  10. Offensive & Defensive Swimming.
  11. An ability to use a Throw Rope to rescue a swimmer.
  12. A practical knowledge of First Aid and its relevance to possible situations arising during a canoeing trip to include: Shock, Hypothermia, Head Injuries, Dislocations, Bleeding, CPR, EAR.


  1. An understanding of the following:            
  2. River Grading
  3. River Route Finding
  4. Types of GP kayaks and paddles
  5. Towing Systems and methods
  6. Group Control and Awareness
  7. Signals and Commands
  8. Personal Equipment

Applying for Assessment

Before applying to attend a Level 4 Kayak Skills Award Assessment, a candidate must:

  1. Have obtained the Level 3 Kayak Skills Award.
  2. Have completed an RSR 2 Training Course and obtained an RSR 2 Certificate
  3. Be a member of Canoeing Ireland either as an individual member or as a member of an affiliated club.
  4. Have unrestricted access to a fully equipped kayak, personal equipment and additional equipment. (See Level 4 Kayak Skills List of Equipment).
  5. Be at least 16 years of age.
  6. Be a member of Canoeing Ireland.


  1. The Level 4 Kayak Skills assessment must take place during a river trip of at least three km on water of Grade III difficulty.
  2. During an assessment a candidate must explain and demonstrate all techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 3 Kayak Skills Award. All techniques, skills and rescues must be demonstrated to the required level in order to achieve this award.
  3. All strokes should be demonstrated in relevant situations i.e. sculling in a stopper. Strokes should be demonstrated on both sides of the kayak.
  4. All rescues must be executed by the candidate acting as both rescuee and rescuer. Generally, required assessment rescues will be kept until the end of the river trip.
  5. While it is not compulsory to attend a training course prior to assessment, it is strongly recommended.

                Assessment Guidelines

  1. A Level 4 Kayak Skills Award can only be assessed by a Level 4 Kayak Instructor who meets the Level 4 Kayak Skills Assessor Panel requirements.
  2.  It is recommended that the award be assessed by an Instructor other than the Instructor who ran the training course leading to assessment.
  3. The assessment will be carried out with a maximum ratio of 4:1.
  4. Should a candidate fail an assessment written guidelines should be given as to the areas that they need to improve on.
  5. No other award may be assessed at the same time as the Level 4 Kayak Skills Award.

                Equipment List required for Assessment

Properly equipped kayak:

  • Rigid end loops and/or toggles.
  • Suitable buoyancy
  • Suitable foot rest
  • A kayak must be of sufficient volume to carry out all necessary safety equipment and perform any rescue as required by the Level 4 Kayak Skills Award


Personal kayaking equipment:

  • Paddle
  • ISO approved Helmet
  •  ISO approved Buoyancy Aid with integrated harness
  • Spray deck
  • Adequate hard sole footwear
  • Wetsuit or dry pants, dry cag or dry suit, combined with sufficient thermal clothing

Other Equipment:

  • Throw Rope
  • Knife
  • 4-5 m Open Sling
  • Karabiners x 2, one screw gate, one snap gate
  • Towing System
  • First Aid Kit
  •  Mobile Phone
  • Whistle
  • Torch
  • Flask and Food
  • Spare Clothes
  •  Bivvy Bag or group shelter
  • Split Paddle
  • Repair Kit which should include  duct tape and multi tool (at a minimum)
  •  Dry Bag or other method of keeping equipment dry