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Slalom - Canoe Scotland


Slalom - Canoe Scotland
Slalom - Canoe Scotland


Slalom - Canoe Scotland
Slalom - Canoe Scotland


Slalom - Canoe Scotland

About Slalom

Slalom is one of the most exciting branches of canoeing where the paddler has to steer the boat down a set course as quickly as possible, passing through a numbered series of downstream and upstream gates in the process.  Each gate comprises two hanging poles at a set distance apart.

Time penalties are incurred by hitting the poles (2's) or by missing the gate (50's).  The competitor must get enough of the boat and body across the gate-line between the poles to satisfy the judges.  The run score is worked out by adding the run-time and the penalty seconds from the run.  At the Olympics and other major International events there are three rounds qualification-semifinal-final that athletes must progress through.  Only the top 10 semifinalists get into the final.

The objective of every competitor is to be 'fast & clean'.


Slalom is organised on a divisional basis such that paddlers compete against others of similar ability with events being held between March and October.  Official entry cards can be obtained from the Slalom Committee Secretary or SCA Office on receipt of a Stamped Addressed Envelope, and should be sent to the event organiser (refer events calendar) at least two weeks before the event.

Division 4 entries are often taken on the day and prizes awarded for all classes of boats including "plastic" ones.  All cheques/postal orders should be made payable to the organising club, not to the person organising the event.  In addition to the full slaloms, short ranking slaloms for newcomers to the sport are organised throughout the season.


SCA Performance, through investment from sportscotland, operates programmes in Sprint and Slalom to support athletes with the potential and commitment to achieve Olympic medals.

Slalom Committee

The Slalom Committee for 2018 is:

Bill Gerrie - Treasurer - End Nov 2020
Calum McDiarmid - End nov 2020
Gary Gibson - End Nov 2020
Tony Leaver - Safeguarding Officer & Rep to SCA Performance - End Nov 2020
Maddy Jennings
Wills Fotheringham

To contact the committee email 

Slalom Site Risk Assessments

Risk Assessment

The risk assessment process for Scottish Canoe Association (SCA) Slalom Coaching, Training & Competitions has three components:

  1. The generic risk assessment, the control measures for which are largely dealt with by following the SCA control measures;
  2. A site specific risk assessment will be completed for each location used by the coach in charge of training, coaching or competition;
  3. The dynamic risk assessment which is on-going throughout the training, coaching or competition and is monitoring such variable hazards as changing weather, water levels, ability and morale of the group, etc.  This third element of the risk assessment is not documented, but is as important as the first two, and is undertaken primarily by the coach in charge, and also by all other leaders and assistants.

Site Specific Risk Assessments
Site specific risk assessments are available to download for Alva, Fairnilee, Grandtully, Seaton Park and Forth (Union Canal)

Dynamic Risk Assessment

Dynamic risk assessment undertaken by the coach on a particular session is a critical part of SCA Slalom risk management. This process begins with the coach in charge of a session walking the section to visually check for hazards and continues throughout the session. The British Canoe Union mnemonic CLAP is a very helpful framework for conducting dynamic risk assessments.

  • C - Communication. Is there a system in place for frequent communication with the people I am responsible for? If people are out of range of my voice how do I communicate with them (whistle, use of signals etc)
  • L - Line of Sight. Can I see all the people I am responsible for? If they go out of sight what arrangements have I made to ensure they are being looked after (eg move an assisting parent to visually watch that section)
  • A - Avoid the problem. Have I create a scenario where those on the water are naturally moving away from potential hazards?
  • P - Position of maximum usefulness. Where am I positioned in relation to those I am responsible for and the identified Site Specific hazards? What order are those on the water paddling a set course? Are the more experienced paddlers in a position to be able to assist those requiring assistance?

Slalom Venue - Grandtully

Grandtully slalom is held on the River Tay, as it passes between the villages of Grandtully and Strathtay.

The SCA have a set of permanent training gates on the site and across the road on the SCA campsite there is a purpose built toilet and shower block, which can be used on a daily basis as well as by campers.

Information about the use of the campsite or toilet block can be obtained from the campsite manager by calling or texting: 07760117641.

Important - Download the Code for the use of the slalom gates

Looking downstream towards the middle section

 At this point the Tay is grade 3 water, about 30m wide and depending on water level can provide some very challenging whitewater. The slalom course usually starts at the gabions, (large metal baskets filled with stones) before taking the top fall, usually run on river left through a narrow right to left ‘S’ type line to avoid a small hole. There is a strong eddy on the right hand side immediately after the top fall that is frequently used in competitions as a testing breakout.

Then follows a relatively wide, fast, open section before the middle section of waves and eddies. At high water levels the waves in the middle section provide some good surfing and wave crossing challenges. Moving out of the middle section the flow passes either side of the large rock, right in the centre of the river and known as the boatbreaker, and finally under the road bridge to finish in the flat pool below the bridge.

Looking downstream towards the middle section

The water level significantly effects the whitewater skill required to compete at this site. At any level it is definitely not the place for your first Div 2 event on moving water, and you need to be confident on whitewater before tackling it. However, it is a great place to test and improve your slalom skills on interesting natural whitewater.

How to find the site

The slalom is held in the village of Grandtully approximately 20 miles (36km) North of Perth. To get there, follow the A9 North from Perth and turn right at the village of Ballinluig onto the A827, follow the road signs towards Aberfeldy for 5 miles(8km). Ordinance Survey Map 52, grid reference 912531.

Slalom Venue - Seaton Park, Aberdeen

Kayak Club, Seaton Park Slalom Site, Seaton Park, Aberdeen. Flat, moving water training/introductory competition site on the River Don, available all year round during daylight hours. Club meets Thursdays 6pm - 8pm from April - September. Div 4 Slalom in May. Contact Dave Kay 01224 321790 or

The slalom course is in a large city park, less than 10 minutes from the centre of Aberdeen. It is on the River Don. The start of the course is a large pool above an old weir, and it then follows the channel down the near side of the island behind the weir. It offers fairly flat moving water with a few interesting eddies and flow patterns - ideal water for beginners, yet still interesting for Division 3 and a good training base for higher division paddlers.

This was one of the earliest permanent slalom training courses in the UK, established by University paddlers during the 1970s. It has been home to an annual introductory (Novice/Div 4) ranked slalom since 1978. Seaton was the home training centre for the Scottish Slalom squads of the late 1970s, prior to the acquisition of Grandtully.

The park is an oasis for wildlife, with formal gardens, open parkland, a football training area used by amateurs and for summer football festivals and an attractive children’s play area. A large public car park is situated next to the play area, with controlled access for unloading by the slalom site. Public toilets are adjacent, but there is no camping and caravanning permitted in the park, although there are a number of sites near Aberdeen. Recent work by the City Council has provided wheelchair access to the course.

Enter Seaton Park from Don Street, off King Street. If travelling from the North this a right turn at the second traffic lights after crossing the Bridge of Don. From the South it is a left turn at the first traffic lights after the roundabout at the junction of King Street & St Machars Drive (by the University). After about 200 metres there is the public car park to the left and a barrier, which on competition days will be unlocked for access.

Slalom Venue - Alva

The course is sited on the River Devon, about 1 mile east of Alva village. It is primarily slow moving, flat water, but there is a small “fall” in the centre of the course, and additional eddies have been constructed by the clubs to provide more options for courses. This site is operated by CR Cats club. Contact for further information. 


Slalom Venue - Fairnilee

Situated on the River Tweed, Fairnilee is a stretch of grade 2 rapids suitable for division 2, 3 & 4 events.  The course varies greatly with water level, from a scrape in summer to a washed out wave train after spring or autumn rain, but it does provide challenges at all levels.  In terms of difficulty, the course sits midway between Alva and Grandtully, so is a good place for the improving paddler to try out their white water skills before moving on to harder courses.
The course normally begins above the bridge, where the river is wide and shallow, testing paddlers' current crossing skills.  The water then channels mainly through the left-most bridge arch, with a small eddy just below the bridge on river left often holding a gate.  The river flattens out slightly before reaching the 'horseshoe drop' which is the most technically difficult part of the course (pictured).  At low levels, the normal route is to the left of the central rock, although it is possible to find a route down the right.  At high water this washes out into a large V-shaped wave.  This part of the course is directly in front of the car park, so expect plenty of onlookers. Another wide section follows, before the river finally narrows again into the aptly named 'bottom rapid' which has a remarkably quick jet of water between several sharp eddies, causing eddy lines which have been known to trip up paddlers very close to the finish line!
In May Fairnilee hosts the River Tweed festival, which involves a 2.5 mile river race, followed by a mini slalom on the flat pool above the main slalom site, and a sprint race down the rapids.
To get to Fairnilee, follow the A707 between Selkirk and Peebles.  The course is situated at the Yair bridge crossing the Tweed, 4 miles outside Selkirk.

Slalom Venue - Pinkston Watersports Centre

Pinkston was officially opened on Monday 19th May by Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Games & Sport. At the same time the £3.25millian watersports centre was officially completed and handed over to Scottish Canals and charitable body Glasgow Watersports. Pinkston is Scotland’s first purpose built paddlesports facility and includes the first Scottish artificial white water course. Predictions are that it will have 25,000 visitors a year by 2016. 

The development has been possible through funding from sportscotland, Scottish Canals, the Scottish Government's shovel-ready programme, Glasgow City Council, the Millennium Link Trust, the People's Postcode Lottery, the Gannochy Trust, the Robertson Trust and Garfield Weston. Since its completion, contributions have also been received from Foundation Scotland, NG Homes, the Rosemount Trust and the Big Lottery Fund. 

As well as providing a training venue for several different canoeing disciplines the centre will function as a water safety and rescue facility, a training/education venue and a community hub providing the opportunity for Scots especially those under 25. Glasgow Watersports is a charitable body which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the centre and Ian Braithwaite is the Centre Manager.