Kayakmór Courses

Level 3 Sea-Kayaking Skills

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1.00 General aims

The Level 3 Sea-kayaking Skills Award aims to enable participants to:-

1.01 Kayak safely and competently on the sea as a member of a group being led.
1.02 Paddle competently in following winds, head winds and beams winds of up to force three.
1.03 Assist in rescues.
1.04 Have an understanding of the importance of weather as a factor in kayaking on the sea.

2.00 Requirements for the Level 3 Sea-Kayaking Skills Award

Prior to assessment for the Level 3 Sea Skills Award a participant must have successfully obtained the Level 2 Sea Skills Award. During assessment, a participant must successfully explain and demonstrate the following techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 2 Sea Skills Award


  • 2.01 Forward Paddle, Reverse Paddle, Emergency Stop.
  • 2.02 Forward Sweep, Reverse Sweep and a combination of Forward and Reverse Sweep.
  • 2.03 Draw Stroke
  • 2.04 Sculling Draw
  • 2.05 Sculling for Support
  • 2.06 Low Brace
  • 2.07 High Brace
  • 2.08 Low Brace Turn
  • 2.09 Stern Rudder
  • 2.10 Bow Rudder


  • 2.11 Entry and Exit
  • 2.12 Edging
  • 2.13 paddling in a following wind, beam winds and head winds
  • 2.14 Record and interpret a marine weather forecast
  • 2.15 Paddling into, bracing and turning in small surf. ( 1 Foot)
  • 2.16 Read a tide table to ascertain the time of high-water.
  • 2.17 Capsize Drill in deep water, getting back into kayak with assistance.


  • 2.18 Assisted X Rescue and an X Rescue
  • 2.19 Eskimo Rescue


  • 2.20 Safety Rules
  • 2.21 An understanding of staying with your boat in the event of a capsize at sea.
  • 2.22 An understanding of the effects of the wind on the sea with particular reference to the danger of offshore winds. The candidate should show an understanding of what is meant by a leeshore dumping surf, riptides and tide races.
  • 2.23 an understanding of good control (i.e. responding to various signals and commands)
  • 2.24 Environment -recognises several of the significant flora and fauna in the seashore environment .

3.00 Applying to attend an Assessment

Before applying to attend a Level 3 Sea Skills Assessment, a candidate must

  • 3.01 Have obtained a Level 2 Sea Skills Award
  • 3.02 At the time of assessment, is a member of the ICU either as an individual member or as a member of an affiliated club.
  • 3.03 Be at least 12 years of age.

4.00 Assessment for the Level 3 Sea-Kayaking Skills Award

4.01 During assessment candidates must demonstrate all techniques/skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 2 Skills Award. All techniques, skills and rescues must be performed to an assessor's satisfaction.
4.02 No part of an assessment may be taken in a swimming pool. All assessment criteria must be demonstrated outdoors on non-tidal waters in winds up to a limit of force three.
4.03 It is recommended that the Level 3 Sea-Kayaking Skills Award be assessed by a coach other than the coach who has run the training course leading to the assessment.
4.04 The Level 3 Sea Skills Award can only be assessed by an ICU Coach currently registered with the Irish Canoe Union
4.05 The assessment is to be carried out with a maximum of four candidates to one assessor, however, a ratio of 3:1 is preferable.
4.06 All strokes should be demonstrated in relevant situations i.e. low brace against a small breaking wave at a beach, and demonstrated on both sides of the kayak.
4.07 Guidelines will be given in writing should a candidate fail the assessment as to the areas that they need to improve on.
4.08 It is expected that the assessment will form part of ongoing training towards the Level 4 Sea Skills, or to improve a candidate's skills skills.
4.09 Generally all required assessment rescues will be kept until the end of an assessment.

Level 3 Sea Skills Award Guidelines


Entry and Exit

  • Can be carried out with or without the use of paddles, depending on what is most appropriate to the situation.

Forward and Reverse Paddling

  • The correct seating position, good trunk rotation, correct width of paddle grip, sufficient power to paddle against the current while the keeping the kayak straight.

Emergency Stop

  • Using forward and reverse paddling, stopping should be evident within 4 strokes.

Forward and Reverse Sweep Strokes

  • Candidates should demonstrate effective use of Sweep Strokes on slightly choppy seas.

Draw Stroke

  • Paddle near vertical, blade well covered, kayak moving in a straight line sideways for at least 5 metres. Top hand pushing while the lower hand is pulling. The blade must remain in the water throughout. Good body rotation towards the paddling side should be evident.

Sculling Draw

  • Paddle off vertical, blade covered, kayak moving in a straight line sideways for at least 5 metres. Top hand pushing while the lower hand is pulling with an efficient blade angle. Long strokes while the kayak remains level.

Sculling for Support

  • Performed sitting upright with the kayak at a precarious angle. The paddle should be kept low with good solid sweeps and confident committal to paddle.

Low Brace Support

  • The kayak must be sufficiently tilted for water to reach the spraydeck. A good push down with the elbows above paddle and associated kneelift and hip rotation should be evident.

High Brace Support

  • The water must reach the paddler?s armpit, with good push down. Associated kneelift and hip rotation should be evident. Paddle shaft no higher than chin level and arms flexed. Must be demonstrated both stationary and in small surf as appropriate.

Low Brace Turn

  • The Low Brace Turn should be demonstrated in small breaking waves (1 Foot) or in a slightly choppy sea as the conditions allows.


  • Demonstrate as a skill that assists in the turning of the kayak.

Stern Rudder

  • Performed while on the move, a push pull action should be exhibited as well as good truck rotation.

Bow Rudder

  • In the Bow Rudder the paddler should show excellent posture and the kayak should turn effectively.


Paddling in head, beam and following winds.

  • Candidates must demonstrate that they can control their kayak in wind conditions up to force 3.


  • Candidates must act as rescuer and rescuee.

Eskimo Rescue

  • A confident capsize and banging of the hull with the rescuer moving in from a distance of 5 metres. A first time recovery must follow but two attempts are allowed. Rescuer should approach from the front, or back, of rescuee to lessen the risk to rescuee?s hand. Paddle or Bow Presentation method may be used.

Weather Forecast

  • A candidate should be able to record that section of the Marine Forecast that is relevant to their geographical area. They should be able to describe what conditions are to be expected on the sea in Forces of wind from 1 to 5.

Surf Conditions

  • This aspect of the assessment involves a candidate demonstrating that they can control their kayak in sea conditions where there are small waves. If there is no surf present on the day of assessment, sea conditions in up to Force 3 winds will suffice. On no account should candidates by asked to paddle, as part of the assessment to paddle, in surf conditions with waves of greater than one foot.

High Tide

  • The candidate must simply demonstrate that they can ascertain what time high water is at the nearest standard port. They may use newspaper, almanac or local tide guide to get this information. The candidate is not expected to be familiar with secondary ports or how to work out tidal streams etc.

Capsize Drill in Deep Water

  • This aspect must be demonstrated both as a rescuee and rescuer.



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