Covid-19 – A Statement – Undated May 14th

Coronavirus Policy

All sessions are cancelled until further notice.

The Government has changed advice and restrictions regarding exercise in England, please note this only applies to England. In response British Canoeing have also updated their advice, which can be read below.

The new advice applies to personal paddling in household groups and one other person, Therefore at this time The Sharks, along with all other Canoe Clubs in the UK are not able to re-open and start running sessions. We do not expect to start any sessions before July 1st 2020. All competitions in June have been cancelled.

We will be publishing our plans and timetable for sessions when were are able to open, we will continue to update the page and keep you informed.

The Sharks always put health and safety as our priority and we have considered this matter carefully and consulted with British Canoeing, the sport’s governing body. British Canoeing have issued statements following advice from the Government.

The Sharks consider that activity is important to maintain people’s health and fitter healthier people will be in a better position to fight the virus is they come into contact with it. We therefor think continued exercise during this time is important as it always is.

We have now cancelled all sessions till further notice

Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister on Monday 23rd March 2020, we have decided to cancel all sessions until further notice.

If things change we will notify you and update this page. So please do keep checking this page.

If you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19 please do not attend sessions and follow Government Guidance.

Thank-your for your support and understanding. We wish everybody well, please keep safe, be sensible and we hope to see you all very soon.


The following is the lates advice from British Canoeing.

A return to paddling in England

First issued 12 May 2020

Updated 14 May 2020

British Canoeing’s response to the Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy.


British Canoeing is pleased to issue this new paddling guidance today, following the lifting of some of the restrictions on paddlesport in England from 13 May 2020. Our new guidance is aligned with the Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, which was published on 11 May.

This guidance relates only to paddling in England, as policy and guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is subject to the devolved governments and their respective national governing bodies.

Our priority remains to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff and help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

We recommend that members continue to follow the government and public health guidelines and to stay at home as much as possible. We also want to remind members that if you or anyone within your household has coronavirus symptoms, you should continue to self-isolate.

Whilst we understand the temptation to drive to your favourite paddling place, we urge our members and all paddlers to paddle locally, to take extra care and to paddle responsibly (see more detail below).

If you have any questions about the guidance please don’t hesitate to contact us by using this comment form.

British Canoeing guidance for paddling in England from 13 May 2020

In promoting a return to paddling, British Canoeing strongly recommends the following;

To closely follow all advice from the Government and Public Health England in relation to Coronavirus.

Paddling only with household members or up to one other person; Paddling can take place alone, or with others from the same household, or with no more than one other person from outside of the household.

Social distancing; Paddlers must practice social distancing at all times and maintain a distance apart of at least 2 metres. People from different households should not travel in the same car. Paddlers should aim to avoid busy areas and take great care to maintain social distancing at access and egress points.

Travel; Whilst travel to exercise is not prohibited, our strong advice is that paddlers should paddle locally if possible. In the interest of respecting the views of our countryside partners and protecting rural locations from the spread of coronavirus, British Canoeing is discouraging travel to remote and rural locations, as well as long journeys to go paddling.

Safety and paddling well within capabilities; Only competent and experienced paddlers should be on the water independently. Paddlers are reminded that they are entirely responsible for their own safety at all times and that currently the resources of the waterways authorities and the emergency services are very limited. Paddlers should take care to make responsible decisions, paddle in familiar locations, and favourable conditions.

Paddling at the coast; At present there are no RNLI lifeguards on beaches and although volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, it is important that only experienced paddlers should paddle on coastal waters and that when doing so they closely follow RNLI safety advice.

Activity must respect local restrictions; Paddlers are responsible for checking to ensure that if they are planning to paddle on a licensed waterway, that there are no paddling restrictions in place. The Environment Agency, Canal & River Trust, Port of London Authority and Broads Authority have now lifted restrictions but are urging responsible paddling (see below). Paddlers must also only use access points and car parks that are open for use.

Waterways authorities; The authorities have asked British Canoeing to request all paddlers to be particularly mindful of social distancing with other waterway users and especially those who are living aboard their boats and who may be vulnerable or self-isolating. They have also advised that the channels may have not been checked for several weeks, there may be obstructions and that water quality and patrols on the waterways will be varied. They are advising that waterway users must accept responsibility for their own activity.

British Port Association and UK Harbour Masters Association restrictions remain in place for usage of marinas, slipways and pontoons pending further announcements. Paddlers are advised to check ahead.

Sensitivity to the environment; A prolonged cessation in boating activity on all waterways has allowed nature to reclaim habitats. Paddlers must take care to avoid the disturbance of nesting birds and other wildlife that may have returned to the water and are reminded that it is an offence to disturb wild birds when they are nesting.

British Canoeing membership; Paddlers are reminded that a waterways licence is required to paddle on licensed waterways. Members of clubs who are not full members of British Canoeing are only licensed and insured to paddle on waterways when taking part in organised club activity.

At this stage no organised club activity is allowed to take place. If paddlers want to ensure they are insured and licensed they can take out full British Canoeing membership here:

Respect other users; Paddlers should be aware and respect that other water users such as anglers may also be returning to the water after a prolonged spell away and should actively demonstrate a willingness to share the space

Green and Clean; It is more critical than ever, for paddlers to thoroughly wash their hands and equipment before and after activity. Paddlers should make every effort to avoid the ingestion of water, so as to minimise the potential for water borne illness from such as Weils Disease and from undetected pollution incidents. This behaviour is also encouraged to help to stop the spread of invasive non-native species.

Further advice for individual paddlers; In this first phase of return to activity, all individual paddlers should restrict their paddlesport activities to environments which are well within their capabilities, alert friends and family to their activity and predicted return times and ensure they have a means to call for help, handy at all times.

Further advice for led, coached and guided activity; Led, coached, or guided activity may now take place on a 1:1 basis with social distancing. Anyone leading a 1:1 activity should ensure appropriate safety frameworks are in place, that delivery is in safe and familiar environments and that the paddler is self-sufficient and no equipment is shared.

Further advice for clubs and all club activity; This stage of return to paddling only allows households to paddle together or for up to 2 paddlers who are not from the same household to paddle together. Clubs facilities should remain closed and there should be no group paddling or club activity at this time. More information about the re-opening of clubs and centres will be shared as it becomes available.

Further guidance

Full details can be found on the Government’s coronavirus website

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Sport England

Sport and Recreation Alliance

Updates from Waterways authorities

Environment Agency

Update on Watersports May 2020

In line with the Government announcements about slight changes to the lockdown, from Wednesday (13 May) you may see the resumption of angling and watersports on our waterways.

Canal and River Trust

The government advice is that all forms of water sports practised on open waterways, including sailing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing and paddle-boarding are allowed from Wednesday 13 May.
Avon Navigation Trust

Broads Authority

Port of London Authority


Useful Downloads

An update from British Canoeing about a return to paddling

1 May 2020

Sarah Winfield 2

I want to share with you again our advice about paddling at this time and also to reassure you that we are working hard behind the scenes on behalf of members to encourage the government to allow a return to socially responsible paddling as soon as possible.

The Big Picture: Taking a step back to look at the big picture first, all forms of sport and active recreation other than running, walking and cycling have been suspended. No other community sport or active recreation is being encouraged. This is being driven by the government and reinforced by the arms’ length organisations including Sport England and the Environment Agency.

Public health risks are real: There remain significant public health risks associated with COVID-19 and the way in which it can be spread. There is currently no effective treatment or vaccine for the virus which we know can be fatal in some cases. We all recognise that the NHS is under massive strain and the country is still in lockdown until further notice.

Our advice: Our strong advice of 26 March remains in place, that paddlers ought not to paddle at this time until some of the restrictions are lifted.

The frustrations: We fully recognise that this is a deeply frustrating position for our members and the wider paddlesport community, as our paths and parks are full of people walking and running, there are more cyclists on the road than normal, and yet our waterways are empty and paddling is being discouraged.

The case for a return: Whilst we can make a compelling case why independent, socially responsible paddling should be allowed now and that that paddling can be done safely within social distancing guidelines, many other organisations will argue the same for their sport; angling, open water swimming, single sculls rowing, horse riding, rambling, climbing and golf to name just a few. The government is not yet ready to make the call for further relaxations at this time, for all the reasons we understand when we watch or read the news.

Social and economic impact: Government recognises that activities such as paddling are really helpful to an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing and that this lockdown is impacting not only on the health and wellbeing of individuals but also significantly affecting the economy of professional and amateur sports. The economic impact on our clubs, centres, self-employed providers, trade and retail and on British Canoeing as the NGB is significant. These social and economic drivers cannot be totally ignored.

Actively working with national agencies: We are working closely as part of an Outdoor Recreation Stakeholder Group, led by Natural England, to put plans in place for a phased return to sport and active recreation. We are working hard to ensure that paddlesport can be in the first phase. The government is unlikely to consider a sport by sport return to activity. By working closely alongside colleagues in the British Mountaineering Council, Outdoor Industries Association, the Ramblers, National Trust and many more, we can ensure that we have a consistent and clear approach that delivers a swift and safe return to activity for our respective communities.

We will also continue to work closely with the Environment Agency, Canal & River Trust and the Broads Authority to assess the risks and put plans in place for a return to paddling on our 5000km of Public Navigations.

Long term relationships: It is our preferred and considered approach to work in collaboration across the sector and with national agencies. Many of the agencies and government departments with whom we are working to achieve a return to paddling, are the same ones that will help to create a change to legislation to bring clarity around rights of navigation and who will support us in our long term promotion and development of paddlesport.

A phased return for sports: The risks that different sports and activities present are very different, and so we are advocating that a phased return to activity is the best approach and that NGBs should take a strong lead in issuing guidance to their members and participants. We are working with other NGBs and Sport England to further develop this approach.

A return to individual paddling: We believe that the first phase of lifting restrictions ought to include a return to individual paddling. When this is agreed by government, we are likely to have to agree some limitations and guidelines for paddlers and these may include;

remain local; be alone, with family members or in small groups; be well within capabilities; respecting rural communities and other users; be once a day for a short time; respect social distancing; respect access points and local restrictions; be sensitive to the environment; be clean, washing hands, equipment and #check clean dry.

Remaining patient: Patience is still required, but that’s the same for all aspects of the situation we find ourselves in. I am confident that we are taking every step possible to encourage a relaxation and a return to individual paddling as soon as possible. We are planning behind the scenes about what further phases will look like around club activity, courses and events and these reintroductions will probably come a little later in the year. Getting individuals back on the water is a clear focus at this stage.

Stronger Together: We have made a lot of progress within British Canoeing in the last three years through working in a joined up way. This approach offers the best way forward on this issue too. We are working hard at national level and we are being heard. Members could best support this process now by respecting the strong guidance we have issued to refrain from paddling for a little longer and by sharing the messages with your local waterway authorities and MPs about the importance of a phased return to active recreation and how responsible paddling fits into the first phase of this.

Regular communication: We recognise the importance of communicating with you and realise that many have wanted some news a little sooner. We and many other national bodies have been dealing with some significant challenges within our respective organisations and it is only in the last week or so that there has been some meaningful collaboration between partners around the return agenda. This is true of government also. I will ensure that we communicate again as soon as anything significant occurs around the return agenda and that we share an update at least every two weeks.

Finally I would like to thank you for your patience, for respecting the guidance we have issued and for your continued support of British Canoeing during this challenging time.

Kind regards

David Joy
CEO, British Canoeing

British Canoeing Coronavirus update on Events and Gatherings

2 April 2020

In response to the current Stay at Home measures issued by the government on 23 March, to address the Coronavirus pandemic, British Canoeing has issued a further update on events and gatherings, following the statement issued on Monday 16 March.

In the interest of the safety and well-being of all members of our community, it is with regret that we are extending the cancellation of all British Canoeing events and gatherings, until 31 May 2020.

Following the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games, selection for the remaining Sprint Olympic and Paralympic team places will not take place in Spring/early Summer 2020 as planned.

The status of all selection processes will be communicated as the 2020 and 2021 domestic andinternational calendar becomes clearer.

The earliest there will be any resumption in domestic competition will be after 31 May.

This date will be further reviewed to align with further government and public health advice or legislation, recognising that decisions which affect activities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Irelandwill be taken by the devolved administrations.

The extension for events and gatherings is in line with advice issued by British Canoeing on Thursday 26 March that all paddlesport activity should immediately cease on rivers, waterways and coastal areas until further notice.

Stay at Home

The current measures announced by government state that people in the country will only be allowed to leave their home for the following purposes:

• shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;

• one form of exercise a day – alone or with members of your household;

• any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and

• travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities – and government advice is to minimise time spent outside of the home, ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

General Guidance

For general queries related to Coronavirus, please follow government guidance. The latest information can be found using the links below:

British Canoeing Coronavirus update on Paddlesport Activity

25 March 2020 18:30

Following the latest measures announced by the government yesterday to address the coronavirus pandemic, British Canoeing has issued the following statement:

Last week on 16 March British Canoeing took the unprecedented step to cancel all events, competitions and gatherings until 30th April 2020.

Our policy position on coronavirus continues to align with advice, measures and legislation from government and public health.

In light of the new measures to control the spread of coronavirus issued by the government on Monday 23 March, British Canoeing has taken the decision to recommend the suspension of all organised club activity until further notice.

Our recommendation to clubs is that no organised and structured face to face activity (including group paddles, training sessions coaching activities, events and competitions) should take place during this period.

This is in line with government advice requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes, avoiding social gatherings and all non-essential travel.

Stay at Home

The new measures announced by government state that people in the country will only be allowed to leave their home for the following purposes:

• shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;

• one form of exercise a day – alone or with members of your household;

• any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and

• travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities – and government advice is to minimise time spent outside of the home, ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

Personal and independent paddling

For personal and independent paddling this should only be considered as an exception – as a form of exercise – if the activity is in line with all government advice and measures and;

  • A paddler lives within a close proximity to a river or waterway;
  • No vehicle travel is required to a river or waterway, a club, centre, facility or a stored boat shed;
  • The activity is once a day and is for a short period of time;
  • Activity is conducted alone or with household members, not in groups, with paddlers following social distancing measures and being two metres apart;
  • Consideration is given to the weather and water conditions and that both are well within your capabilities;
  • That a personal safety framework is put in place whilst on the water;
  • Tell someone where you are going and how long for – as well as letting them know when you’re off the water;
  • Only experienced and competent paddlers should be on the water independently.

With all government guidance pointing towards a period during which the nation is being urged to act responsibly to fight the spread of Coronavirus, and the unprecedented burden currently on our emergency and public services, we believe this is the most responsible, and only, course of action we can take at this moment.

We fully appreciate the effect that this recommendation will have on the paddlesport community, particularly for clubs, centres, coaches, providers and retailers whose businesses will be greatly affected by the further measures introduced by the government.

General Guidance

For general queries related to Coronavirus, please follow government guidance. The latest information can be found using the links below:

British Canoeing – Coronavirus Guidance for Clubs

17 March 2020

On the 16th March, the UK government advised that everyone in the UK should now avoid “non-essential” travel and contact with others to fight coronavirus. Whilst it has not issued any ban on public gatherings of any size either indoors or outdoors at this stage, the advice is to avoid non-essential contact with others, including going to sporting events, pubs, clubs, theatres and social venues.

After further reviewing the guidance provided, British Canoeing has cancelled most British Canoeing events whilst this guidance is in place.

Clubs are advised to consider if and how they are able to run activities which adhere to the government advice, specifically regarding travel and social distancing recommendations. For some clubs and in some circumstances, club committees might assess that some activities can continue safely. However, the way that clubs operate and the facilities available to each club varies greatly which means that some club activities will need to be suspended for the time being.

We must all act in the interests of protecting the health and well-being of paddlers, officials, coaches, volunteers, supporters and the wider paddling community. This is also aligned with actions taken by the national associations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and is similar to action taken by other sports.

Where possible, paddlers at all levels are encouraged to maintain their own personal fitness and keep active during this time, while following government guidelines about safe distance and safe exercise environments. The government advice on hand washing and taking steps to avoid coming into contact with the virus remain key.

British Canoeing will continue to review and monitor government advice, and provide detailed updates on the impact to our sport in the coming weeks. We appreciate that the current measures will undoubtedly place our member clubs in a difficult situation and we are working with Sport England, UKSport and other organisations on the best way to help alleviate this. We will update you as plans evolve.

Social distancing and advice

Social distancing measures (such as not spending more than 15 minutes and not being within a 2-metre distance when talking to someone) are now advised not only if we test positive or have symptoms, but in day-to-day life. As well as current travel advice, the current UK government is advising anyone with a “new, continuous” cough or high temperature and those they live with need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Click here for NHS advice on infection control

Click here for the government’s advice if you have symptoms

Click here for the government’s advice on social distancing

We should all take sensible steps to reduce the risk of picking up infections. This is particularly applicable to anyone with a higher risk from viruses such as cold or flu. Click here for NHS advice on infection control – it is summarised below:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services

Click here for the government’s advice if you have symptoms

British Canoeing Coronavirus update on events and gatherings

16 March 2020

Following the latest advice from the Government announced at 5.00pm today, British Canoeing has issued the following statement.

In light of the Prime Minister’s advice this evening and in the interest of the safety and well-being of all members of our community, it is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of all British Canoeing events and gatherings, with immediate effect from now until 30 April 2020. We will keep this end date under careful review and extend it as necessary.

This does of course regrettably include any events that were scheduled for this weekend (21-22 March).

We acknowledge that the cancellation of domestic competitions and gatherings will impact greatly on the paddling community.

We also recognise that this statement will raise a lot of questions and we will respond to these over the next few days and update our guidance as regularly as required.

It is our intention to continue to support those athletes focussed on the Games in Tokyo with their preparations. This will include fully exploring contingency plans for the proposed selection events for sprint and paracanoe that were scheduled to be held within this period.

We have discussions planned with the International Canoe Federation and European Canoe Association later this week about the international calendar and the international events we are scheduled to host this year. We will update on these matters as soon as possible.

David Joy CEO of British Canoeing said;

“Our policy position on Coronavirus COVID 19 is to align with government and public health advice or legislation, recognising that decisions which affect activities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taken by the devolved administrations.

“The impact of the Coronavirus COVID 19 is already being felt in many aspects of our lives and we are being advised that this is likely to escalate further in the coming weeks.

“We have taken this decision this evening to remove as much uncertainty as possible and we will provide further guidance to members, athletes, coaches, clubs and event organisers as soon as possible within the next few days.

“We will communicate through our normal channels and present all of the guidance within the Coronavirus COVID 19 pages on our website.”

General Guidance

For general queries related to Coronavirus, please follow government guidance. The latest information can be found using the links below: