Club FAQ

The club has a selection of kayaks for Members use:

- short whitewater river boats (2–2.5m)               

- general purpose 'Dancers' for the Thames (3.5m)        

- sea kayaks (5m)   

- K1 and K2 race boats:   

What does the Club do?
The Club paddles everywhere; on the Thames all year, sea trips, white water rivers in the winter season and sometimes surfs. These are either from our Thames base or on trips away. The Club also organises essential weekly pool training sessions for safety training and advanced skills.

The Club has 90 members with a wide range of ability, ages and interests. Members under 18 are accepted if they 
join and are accompanied by a parent or guardian in all activities.

We aren't set up as a racing club though some of us do compete in marathon races, and a few have completed the Devizes - Westminster race. However you can get fit with us by joining our regular paddle on the Thames. It is an excellent workout for anyone seeking to get paddle fit and acquire essential skills.

Can I try paddling before joining?
Yes you can have 2 trial sessions before joining. The first steps are to come to a pool session. This is go through capsize drills and safety procedures in a warm pool environment. If you are experienced then a single pool session will normally suffice. Newcomers generally need 2 or 3 more sessions before paddling on the Thames. You can also meet members and learn what we can offer.

You can attend pool sessions as often as you like, and no prior booking is required.

Kayak hire?

Our kayaks and equipment are only for use in events organised by the Club. Sorry no exceptions. We do not hire our equipment to the public for safety and insurance reasons. They can only be used by paid up Members on Club trips.

How much does it cost?

The Club attempts to keep costs as low as possible. As a guest on the Thames to borrow a kayak, buoyancy aid, spray deck and paddle (worth over £500) costs £5 per session.

Once you become a Member this hire cost is included in your subscription. All equipment is provided except clothing and footwear and winter lights.

Do I need my own kayak to join?
You won't need one to start with, although most keen paddlers buy their own. It is however recommended you at least buy your own paddle and helmet as soon as possible to acquire skills.
Before buying a kayak, do try as many as possible first and in different conditions. The Club has different types, and experienced members who can advise you. Kayaks are provided for most activities, but are subject to availability.

What is the difference between canoeing and kayaking?
Canoes are generally paddled kneeling down with a single blade paddle, whereas kayaks are paddled sitting with a double-bladed paddle.

Confusingly we are a canoe club but most of the time use kayaks

Can I store my kayak at the club?Unfortunately the club has limited space, even for it's own equipment.

The club has paddles, spraydecks, buoyancy aids and safety equipment, as well as kayaks for use in our swimming pool sessions.

Where to buy kayaking equipment?For cheap clothing try Decathlon at High St Kensington, Wandsworth or Surrey Quays. Good for Fleeces, polyester T-shirts and splash proof tops and the all important neoprene shoes and boots.

For kayaks, paddles and more specialist equipment see our local shop: The White Water Canoe Centre (TWCC) who offer a discount for Club Members.

What do I wear kayaking?

All paddling equipment will be provided, except clothes and lights. 

You generally need 3 layers of clothing: -

1. wicking base layer - polyester T-shirt, never cotton please 

2. warm mid-layer - polyester fleece, or merino wool 

3. waterproof outer layer - anorak or kayak 'cag'. This will keep you dry, and if not needed can be stowed in the back of the kayak.

Initially in warm weather any outdoor clothing can be used, such as for walking, cycling or running. The first purchase should be neoprene booties, followed by a paddling 'cag' or anorak.

Cag anorak advice 

Winter paddling. If you intend to paddle all through the winter then paddlers use a either a dry cag & dry trousers or the ultimate Dry Suit. A neoprene long john also works but is less popular now.

More information here


Heads - a hat is recommended at most times: winter or summer, a warm one for the cold and a wide brimmed hat or cap to reduce the heat and reflected summer sun. 

Hands - in the winter most kayakers use 'pogies' without which they could not paddle. Neoprene gloves also work but not in the coldest weather 

Footwear must be worn to the river side and when in the kayak at all times. The shore may contain hazards. The ideal footwear is neoprene surf booties. Old trainers are ok but may not fit in some kayaks. Do not tie the laces as they could catch on the footrests; so just tuck them in.

Cotton clothes should never be worn when paddling. Although cotton may feel warm when dry, it will conduct heat away from you when wet. 

Synthetic fibres are much better at letting the body retain heat, use 'technical' T-shirts made of polyester, or fleece materials.

Do not use the kayaks in bare feet or flip flops. There is far too much debris and broken glass on the Thames foreshore. 


A small dry bag is very useful to have to store a extra layer of clothes, money, hat car keys etc. Fasten it securely inside the kayak in case of a capsize.

Don't forget change of clothing
Please bring a change of clothing in case you get wet. The changing facilities at the lock-up are basic, so a towel will help!
Richard Bate,
3 Jan 2021, 11:52