Sea kayaking tops poll

by Ian Tokelove
Sea kayaking tops the popularity polls in Sports England 2012 survey

Sea kayaking tops the popularity polls in Sports England 2012 survey

Sport England have just published the detailed results from their 2012 Satisfaction Survey for 2012.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents participated in largely recreational, rather than competitive paddlesports. As the graph shows, sea kayaking, touring, white water and freestyle outweighed disciplines such as slalom, racing, marathon and polo.

Sea kayaking was the most popular discipline with 47% of respondents taking part, followed by kayak touring at 42%. Canoe touring was close behind at 39% followed by white water at 35%.

The report also shows that 56% of participants intend to participate more in kayaking and canoeing over the next 12 months, with 38% reckoning they’ll stay about the same and only 6% thinking they will paddle less.

Kayak and canoe disciplines Sport England 2012 Survey


Club membership

Interestingly, only 21% of all respondents belonged to a Canoe England affiliated canoe club. Amongst the ‘talent pool’ this rose to 96%. This implies that the majority of recreational padders currently fall outside of Canoe England’s reach, and potentially the training offered by Canoe England’s many registered coaches.

This public viewpoint may be summed up by one respondent who noted, “I take my canoe to the river Thames, put it in, get into it, and paddle off into the green sunny distance. I just get out there and paddle. I don’t take part in competitions; I don’t use club facilities; I don’t have a coach. The Thames on a sunny summer’s evening is wonderful.” (Female participant, age 66)

Finding information on where to paddle

Whilst 53% of people used Canoe England websites to find information on where to paddle, 72% of paddlers used ‘other websites’. Magazine articles provided 53% with information, and guide books 51%, equal with canoe clubs and centres. 50% used online forums and 40% used social media such as Facebook.

Where do we paddle?

72% of respondents said they participated in touring on flat, still or flowing water. 48% were into sea kayaking and 46% enjoyed white water river running and/or river play. Leisure canoeing scored 34%, followed by freestyle at 22%. Canoe marathon came in at 10%, followed by canoe slalom (7%), canoe polo (6%) and canoe sprint (6%).

Whilst the lack of public access to inland waters was not specifically addressed, it might be summed up by one respondent who noted, “It’s a great sport with a great infrastructure behind it, but more needs to be done to get greater river access for all.” (Male club member, age 33)

Kayak Canoe participation Sport England survey 2012


The full report can be seen at


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