Introduction to the Marlins

What is it?

The Marlins is a sub-section of Manchester Canoe Club dedicated to providing a structure to allow junior paddlers to develop in the sport of Canoe Slalom.

Canoe Slalom is one of the most spectacular watersports, demanding skill, stamina and courage. The aim is to run a rapid river course marked by "gates" fast, and without touching. It is an Olympic sport, and as such offers a great opportunity to any ambitious paddler.

Canoe Slalom in the UK is organised in a divisional system. Beginners start out in division 4, paddling on courses with little flow or major features. As they rise through the divisions the races are held on more challenging courses on more difficult water until they reach division 1 or Premier where they can be racing on challenging grade 3 water that borders on grade 4. For more information visit

What do we do?

The Marlins meet every Tuesday at the canoe club site in Marple at 5.30pm. We aim to be on the water by 6.00 and off again at 7.00. There are three groups of up to six paddlers, who are allocated a qualified coach. As a member of the Marlins the paddlers will be allocated

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Additionally training sessions are organised at weekends at other slalom sites. At first these will be relatively local, such as Matlock or Sowerby Bridge, but as the paddlers develop they will be encouraged to paddle at the white water courses on the Tryweryn in Bala, or the artificial course at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham.

Also races will be identified at which the club coaches will attend to offer support to the paddlers. Again at first these will be fairly local.

The training sessions are designed to be appropriate to the age and abilities of the paddler, and the emphasis is very much on having fun, especially for the younger members.

What equipment is needed?

As mentioned above, the club provides much of the more specialist equipment that the paddler will need. However the paddler will need some equipment of their own:

Paddling shorts. Normally these will be Neoprene, though Reed make some from a lined rubber material that are equally good.

Paddling shoes. Slalom boats are do not have great footroom so thick soles are inappropriate. Neoprene boots are normally used, though Decathlon sell a rubber slipper that is popular with some paddlers.
Thermal base layer. This needs to be quite tight fitting. Helly Hansen have been well regarded by the kayaking community for many years, but they are quite expensive. Any synthetic base layer will be adequate. Tops made from thicker material are also available from specialist retailers for the colder weather.
Paddling cag. At first any waterproof top will do, but soon a purpose made paddling cag will be needed. The cheaper cags are not designed to keep out water, more to keep spray off and prevent wind chill, but this is adequate for paddlers starting out.
pogies Pogies. These are specialist kayak equipment designed to protect the hands, while not interfering with the “feel” of the paddle, and are essential if the paddler is to be able to continue training through the winter. Neoprene mitts or gloves are not a good substitute.

All the above equipment except the pogies are available from Decathlon, though you will find a greater selection at more specialist retailers. However most canoe/kayak outlets do not stock much competition orientated equipment, and as the paddler develops you may have to go to specialist suppliers such as Hydrasports or Cool Blue Canoes, or you can go direct to the manufacturer such as Peak UK or Quick Flow Sports. Links to these company’s websites, and many more, can be found on the Links page on the website. You will find people selling second-hand equipment at slalom races, or again on the Canoeslalom website.

Slalom equipment, kayak, BA, spray deck, paddle and helmet will be provided by the club up until your 15th birthday or 3 months prior to promotion to division 1, whichever is first.

What is expected of the paddler?

The paddler is expected to attend most of the training sessions. They are also expected to attend a minimum of six races through the season, which lasts from early March until late October.

At first these will be fairly local, though they will occasionally be encouraged to travel further, and as they develop their abilities and rise through the divisions this will become necessary.

They will be expected to respect their coach and to apply themselves during the training session.

Full rules are available here.

What about the parents?

Parents will be expected to bring their children to and pick them up from the sessions. Ideally they should remain on site during the session, though we recognise that this is not always possible.

More importantly, parents are expected to take their children and their equipment to the races. This means that they will need to have a roof rack to transport the boats. Arrangements can be made with other parents to share the load, but the coaches cannot be expected to care for the paddlers while they are not on the water.

Many parents like to get involved with the sport themselves, and the club has adult slalom boats and equipment available which can be hired for use during the general club sessions. Furthermore canoe slalom races require many volunteers, and the club currently runs three races over the year. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about the sport, we can always find something useful for you to do.


Firstly, the paddler must be a member or a family member of the canoe club. After this the Marlins paddlers pay an additional subscription of £40 for 6 months.


If you are interested in joining the Marlins, please email Mark Davies on, or if you have any more questions.

Additional information