What is the difference between a Canoe, a kayak and a SUP board?

Often asked is what’s the difference between a Canoe, a kayak and a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board, well the SUP board is the easy one, it looks like a surfboard.

SUP Boarding came about after surf instructors in Hawaii stood up on their surfboards to supervise lessons, they soon discovered that many people who did not get to master surfing that if given a paddle, could use the paddle to propel the board through the water. Many of the techniques used in paddleboarding are similar to those used in open canoes.

There are two types of paddle board on the market, solid plastic boards filled with closed cell foam and inflatable boards. Inflatable boards are favoured for their portability should you wish to take your board on the train to the seaside or take your board on holiday. At the Canoe Sports Trust, we only use inflatable boards because they are more stable and are preferred by recreational users.

Open Canoes were first built by tightening animal skins over a wooden skeletal frame, open canoes (the green boat) are generally propelled by a paddler sitting in a kneeling position using a single bladed paddle. These craft were typically used as working boats due to their capacity to transport goods. These craft are sometimes referred to as Canadian canoes following use of Canadian cedar wood in their construction, though these days most canoes are now manufactured from plastic, the Canoe Sports Trust has access to a wide range of plastic canoes and some older metal canoes which are made using aircraft aluminium.

Finally, the Kayak was developed by the Eskimos, using a whale bone frame over which seal skins were stretched, Eskimos required a small cockpit that they could close to keep the cold and sea water out, this required sealing themselves in to the boat by sewing the opening shut and required them to learn to Eskimo roll as there was no getting out if they capsized the kayak. Kayakers use a double bladed paddles because they positioned closer to the water when they paddle and paddling on both sides helps a short boat to stay in a straight line.

These days we use spray decks (optional) that can be quickly released should we need to exit the kayak in a hurry. Kayaks went through stages of being built at home from plywood kits before the widespread use of fibreglass in the 1970s. Nowadays all kayaks are manufactured from plastic and come in all shapes and sizes, with slimmed down versions for competition use and large volume boats for big white water.

The Canoe Sports Trust has access to over 70 kayaks so there should be a no paddler that we cannot find a kayak for.