Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):

  1. Keeping in Touch
  2. Taster Sessions
  3. Membership
  4. Port Meadow (casual/members) Sessions
  5. Pool Sessions
  6. Whitewater/Trips
  7. Canoe Polo
  8. Marathon/Racing Kayaking

1. Keeping in Touch

To stay in touch with us, make sure to join our WhatsApp group, Facebook pages, and follow us on Instagram! These are a great way to ask questions if they’re not covered by this guide.

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ouckc 

WhatsApp group chat: https://chat.whatsapp.com/L63pb0wW1nb96UUtG8lxLI 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ouckc/ 

Marathon paddling group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/338688420027054 

Racing WhatsApp group chat: https://chat.whatsapp.com/Bwz8qbGlVn2G9LQBIzR4Ek 

2. TASTER SESSIONS

Q: What’s a taster session?

A: This is your chance to try kayaking and get to know the club FOR FREE! You’re allowed to come along to one taster session before you pay membership, and we’ll teach you the basics of kayaking before moving onto some fun and games on the water and telling you all about everything OUCKC has to offer!

Q: I’ve never kayaked before – can I still join in?

A: Yes! Our taster sessions are the perfect chance to try canoeing and kayaking. All sessions will be led by a coach or experienced paddler, who’ll be happy to show you the ropes and get you started – and help you develop your skills once you’ve got a handle on the basics. We’ll be providing all of the kayaks and special equipment you need — see below for what we expect from you!

Q: When are they?

A: Check our termcard to find out! Also keep an eye out on our weekly emails (plus updates in the Facebook and Whatsapp group) as all sessions will be announced there too.

Q: How do I attend?

A: We have a limited number of spaces each session, so you’ll need to sign up in advance using the special Playwaze links we send out (these are distributed on our mailing list, WhatsApp group, and Facebook group). 

You’ll need to create a Playwaze account before you’re able to sign up on these links, which you can create by following the below link: https://oxfordsport.playwaze.com/ou-canoe-and-kayak/t6hw3cso4zi4g2/community-details 

You can attend one taster session for free before we require you to pay membership! Once you’re a member, our Port Meadow sessions are completely free.

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: We provide all specialist equipment, including boat, paddle, buoyancy aid, and helmet. All you need to bring is

  • Clothes to wear on the water – this means something you don’t mind getting wet in, as spills and swims are a risk we need to prepare for. As a rough guide, synthetic fabrics, fleeces, and wool are great to keep you warm in cold weather, but cotton (e.g. jeans) should be avoided. 
  • Shoes to wear in your kayak that you don’t mind getting wet and are happy to swim in. Wetsuit booties are ideal, but any old trainers will do! Flip flops and sandals can come off in the water, and won’t protect your feet from the riverbed, so please avoid these.
  • A towel to dry off (and for getting changed!)
  • A change of clothes and a second pair of shoes to go home in! 

If you do have your own kayaking gear that you’d like to use, that’s great – feel free to bring it along. Valuables and dry clothes may be locked in the shed whilst we are on the water (but we do not take any responsibility for ensuring their safety).

Q: How do I get there?

A: Our sessions start at the OUCKC shed at Port Meadow, which is a short walk/cycle from town. The routes/location are detailed on the map in the following link: http://goo.gl/5SMYWQ 

Q: I’m lost/confused/want to chat to someone?

A: Message our Facebook page or Whatsapp group for a member of the committee to help with your query, or contact Gemma Owen or Max Topp-Mugglestone (this year’s Co-Presidents) for advice!

Q: I’ve been to a taster session and want to come back! What can I sign up to?

A: Fantastic! We run weekly casual sessions from the OUCKC shed which you can participate in for absolutely free once you’ve filled out a membership form and paid the membership fee. You’ll still need to sign up to the sessions in advance via Playwaze to ensure we’ve got enough space for everyone who wants to come. You will also be able to sign up to more events such as pool sessions and trips – see the following sections!

3. MEMBERSHIP

Q: What does membership cost and what does it get me?

A: Annual membership is £35 for University of Oxford student members. For University of Oxford staff, membership is £45 for the year, and for non-University members, yearly membership is £50 (see our membership form for full details). After paying membership, you’ll be able to attend any normal session from our Port Meadow shed for free, and you’ll be eligible to join in with club trips and swimming pool sessions. You’ll also have free use of our over 60 kayaks stored in our Port Meadow boathouse at any of our sessions, as well as all of our other specialised equipment. A single-term membership can also be purchased  (see the membership form for full details). Single-term memberships include the term and subsequent vacation, so – for example – a single-term membership bought in Trinity will cover the long vacation.

If you have your own equipment, you’ll be able to store it in the shed after you’ve paid membership.

Q: Do I have to be a student to join?

A: We welcome everyone here in OUCKC, whether you’re an undergraduate, postgraduate, postdoc, or staff! Even if you’re not a member of the university, we have a number of memberships open to the public  (see our membership form for full details) so please feel free to sign up to a taster session and get to know us!  

4. PORTMEADOW (CASUAL) SESSIONS:

Q: When are they and how do I sign up?

A: You can see our plans for the term on the termcard! Most of our Portmeadow sessions happen on Sunday afternoons, but this can be subject to change depending on conditions and leader availability – so make sure you’re subscribed to our mailing list, Facebook group, and Whatsapp once you’ve paid your membership. Just like for a taster, you’ll still need to sign up in advance on Playwaze using the links sent out each week.

Q: What happens at a Port Meadow session?

A: Depending on weather and river conditions (and most importantly what you feel like doing), we can offer a variety of different things at our regular Port Meadow sessions. This can range from developing your kayaking skills, and playing games, to just chilling on the water, or exploring the rivers around Oxford. If there’s a skill you really want to learn or a place you want to go, why not chat to your session leader and see what they can do?

Q: What’s a spraydeck and can I wear one?

A: A spraydeck or spray skirt is the bit of equipment that goes around your waist and covers up the cockpit of the boat, making sure you stay dry inside the boat. They’re necessary for learning more advanced skills, such as rolling, as well as paddling whitewater or playing canoe polo. However, in order to start wearing a spraydeck, we need to be sure you’re happy taking it off underwater. Talk to your session leader about doing a ‘deck test’ if you’d like to start wearing one or if you plan to sign up to one of our trips or canoe polo sessions.

5. POOL SESSIONS:

Q: What’s a pool session?

A: Pool sessions are much like a normal session, but inside, in a warm swimming pool. These constitute your best opportunity to learn and practise more advanced skills, such as rolling, support strokes, rescues, and even get an introduction to freestyle kayaking and canoe polo. 

Q: How do I attend?

A: Sign up links will be posted on Playwaze, and you will need to book your slot in advance. Pool sessions are limited to members only, as we have very limited space – so you will need to pay membership before attending one of them.  There will also be a small cost for each pool session, which will be included in the sign up link. 

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: Just like our normal sessions, we will be providing boats, paddles, spraydecks and all of the specialist stuff. You’ll need to bring:

  • Swim stuff to wear in the pool plus a T-shirt or rash vest
  • A towel

6. WHITEWATER TRIPS:

Q: Do I need to be an expert kayaker to come on a trip? 

A: Nope! We’ll be running a range of trips at the beginner and intermediate level, focusing on introducing people to whitewater kayaking for the first time and really developing the basic skills and techniques. If you’re unsure if an event is suitable for you, feel free to message/email one of the committee. 

Q: What do I need to bring?
A: You will need to bring ALL of the same equipment as listed for the normal sessions (see the list in the taster session section) plus:

  • Card/cash to pay for stuff – especially important for trips to artificial whitewater courses where we need to pay course fees… but don’t underestimate the appeal of buying a hot meal after a trip!
  • A warm/waterproof jacket – it can get cold and exposed by the river
  • Snacks/food – it can be a long day out and you may get hungry
  • OVERNIGHT TRIPS ONLY:
    • Sleeping bag
    • Rollmat
    • Toiletries
    • Enough river kit/thermals for two days on the water!

When picking clothes to wear on the water, do bear in mind that you’re likely to spend a longer time on the water than a typical Sunday session!

Q: Will I swim (fall in)?
A: Yes! Falling in is a normal part of learning to paddle. In fact, falling in is an important part of learning how to be safe in the whitewater environment. We’re all in between swims, and even the best kayakers can still fall in from time to time. As such, you need to be prepared – swims will happen, no matter how hard we try to avoid them.

Q: How do I sign up?

A: You will need to preregister for the trip, just like any other session. Trips are only open to paid club members, so make sure you’ve completed your membership form and sent your payment in. Trips will have additional fees for transport plus facility use, but will be run at-cost, as cheaply as we possibly can. 

Q: I signed up for a trip, but I can’t come anymore. Do I still have to pay?

A: If you give us 48hrs of warning, you will only have to pay for things that have already been booked at that point (e.g the trip deposit paid on Playwaze for booking vehicles/accommodation). If there is someone on the waiting list that is able to take your spot, or you find a replacement yourself, then the cost will fall to them, and you can be refunded. If no replacement can be found, you will be liable for the cost. Moreover, if you drop out of the trip with less than 24hrs of notice, you will be charged for the entire cost of the trip as if you had attended. It is your responsibility to contact a replacement/reserve to take your place. 

7. CANOE POLO:

Q: What’s canoe polo?

A: A fast-paced, 5-a-side team ball game played in kayaks. It’s just about the most fun you can have on flatwater!

Q: How do I get involved? Do I need to be an expert?
A: Sign up to one of our canoe polo sessions – all ability levels are welcome! You will need to have performed a ‘deck test’ first, however (see above!)

8. MARATHON/RACING KAYAKING: 

Q: What is marathon kayaking?

A: Marathon kayaking involves using long, fast racing boats on flatwater. Races are over a variety of distances from 4 miles to 125 miles (in the Devizes to Westminster race). Races involve wash-hanging (riding opponents’ waves to your advantage) and portaging (running with the boat) and happen all over the country and the world. Marathon kayaking can be seen here: https://youtu.be/HApuBFlgZiU

Q: What is the Devizes to Westminster race?

A: The Devizes to Westminster is a 125-mile ultramarathon that takes place every Easter. It starts on the Kennet & Avon canal in Devizes, Wiltshire and finishes at Westminster Bridge in London. The race is a fantastic mental and physical challenge. Beginners are able to do the race next Easter if they start training regularly this October. Beginners would need to get on the water about 4 times per week between now and Easter to do the race. More info about the race can be found here: http://www.dwrace.co.uk/

Q: What should I wear for a marathon kayaking session?

A: You should wear sports clothes: running leggings, swimming trunks or running shorts for bottoms, and running base layers for tops. You do not need shoes but if you would like wetsuit boots or flip flops/sliders to walk to your boat that is fine. 

Q: What do I need to bring to a marathon session?

A: You should come in sports kit (outlined above) and bring a towel, a water bottle, a spare change of clothes and a plastic bag for your wet kit. Buoyancy aids, paddles and boats will all be provided.

Q: Where do the marathon kayaking sessions happen?

A: The marathon sessions will take place from Falcon Boat Club. The boat club comes up on Google Maps and is right by Donnington Bridge (east side of the river, north of the bridge). OUCKC members will need to pay £3 to Falcon Boat Club per session for renting equipment. The boat club has changing rooms and toilets available.