A group of kayakers wait below a bridge embankment to go whitewater kayaking.
Location: Roseway River, Nova Scotia. Photo credit: Karl Vollmer

Advanced River Kayak Skills

Discipline: River Kayaking Stream: Skills Development

The Advanced River Kayak Skills course represents the highest skill level and provides candidates with the opportunity to improve his/her whitewater skills on more challenging white water (class III).


Kayakers taking this course should have considerable paddling experience beyond the Intermediate River Kayaking course, solid rolls on both sides and rescue experience.

Upon completion of the course, participants should be able to confidently navigate Class III rapids on rivers that contain a mix of Class III, and higher rapids in a group setting.

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Course Overview

Typical Course Length

16 hours of instruction or approximately 2 days.

Course Water Class

This course runs in Class-3 conditions which are described as:

Exposed water, with more committed crossings and any combination of the following: moderate to strong currents with turbulence (≥ 6 km/h or ≥ 3 knots), moderate to strong wind effects (22-35 km/h or 12–19 knots), ocean swells and a combined sea state near 1 meter with occasional rough sea state. Difficult but frequent landing opportunities, surf-beaches with surf up to 1 metre. Delays in access to land-based assistance can expected.

Learn more about our water classification system.

Course Topics

Safety Skills
  • Review all safety items from lower-level river kayak courses.
  • Rolling in class III water
  • Support-lines
  • Hole rescue
  • Swimmer tow
  • Z-drag
Paddling Skills
  • Back ferry
  • Boof
  • Paddling switch
  • Running drops
  • Advanced surf techniques including back surf and 360 spins.
Theory and Knowledge
  • Review of theory items from the lower river kayaking levels.
  • Emergency repairs on a kayak.
  • Self-rescues
  • Shore based rescues.
  • Boat based rescues.
  • In-water based rescues.
  • Multi-kayaker rescue.
  • Rescue priorities.
  • The rescue hierarchy: reach, throw, row, go, swim (RETHROG).
Course Prerequisites
  • Skills Certification
    • Intermediate River Kayaking Skills course or equivalent skills with the permission of the course director.
  • Paddling Experience
    • Participants must be able to perform a kayak roll on demand in current.
  • First Aid
    • Students are encouraged to take a Basic First Aid course and a Swift Water Rescue course.
  • Paddling Equipment
    • The kayak must have sufficient buoyancy, float bag / bulkhead, to float after a wet exit.
    • A helmet approved for use in moving water.
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