Canoeing South Africa (CSA) is the governing body for all paddling in the country. One needs to be registered with them if you wish to do any river, surfski, sprint or marathon races. As with other sports they are represented regionally by the Provincial Unions who are elected officials from the local clubs.
You need to join a canoe club and pay, club fees, provincial fees and CSA fees in order to be able to race for the year. It is definitely worth it if you plan on doing a couple of races throughout the year. It is like gym fees through – you sign up for the year; how many times you go is entirely up to you! (on the bright side it is much cheaper than a gym membership, the scenery keeps changing and you are NOT using someone else’s sweat covered equipment)
CSA has developed a really good safety booklet see here. It covers a wide range of topics from paddling technique to river rescue and snake bites. When you join a club you will be put in touch with their safety officer who will go through the book with you. At the same time the safety office will check that you are able to complete a 10km time trial in less than 70min in order to proceed to the river proficiency. Once they are satisfied that you are fit / competent enough, he or she will also arrange a time for you do a river proficiency test.
Your river proficiency day is usually a fun day spent with the clubs safety officer tripping down 3 – 8km of river (depending on the season etc..) here you will be taught how to read and negotiate a rapid, how to enter a fast flowing stream/ river, turn your canoe in flowing water, deep water entry, rescue techniques and very useful safety tips.
Just do it! You will not regret it and once it is done you are free to pick and choose the races you wish to do. Once you have successfully completed your proficiency test you start working your way up the grading system. I have attached a comprehensive guide from the WCCU here to give you a basic outline but your local safety office will be able to advise you on your local races. Again JUST DO IT!
Once you have completed your river proficiency you need to complete a certain number of C and B grade races in order to progress to A grade races such as The Fish Rver Marathon and Duzi Canoe Marathon.
To go to Canoeing South Africas website click here:
There are a lot of great clubs out there to help you get started and in those clubs are people who give of their time to help the sport of paddling in some way. Please bear in mind that a lot of them hold down permanent jobs and have families that make demands of them – please be patient with them.