What’s in a name? The World Paddle Awards.

canoe kayak paddlesports world paddle awards golden paddle sportscene

'What's in a name?' This can be simply answered with 'Everything!' As you will appreciate, it was not easy finding the right name for this award. International vocabulary and interpretations are different with the word 'canoe' causing the most confusion.

For some the words 'canoe' and 'canoeing' are the umbrella definition for everyone in a canoe (single blade) and kayak (double blade). Others do distinguish canoe and kayak clearly with, for example, federations explicitly mentioning this: USA Canoe Kayak, Fédération Française de Canoë-Kayak and so on. It is an age-old debate and even today it can cause heated dicussion let alone confusion. Even using the words canoe and kayak (e.g. The World Canoe Kayak Awards) would not have solved our problem because we did not want to exclude sports like for example rafting (in a raft), stand up paddling (on a board) and surf skiing (on a ski).


The words 'paddlesports'  and 'paddling' provided us guidance with a clear definition: "the act of manually propelling a boat using a paddle". Hereby the paddle is a single or double blade joined through a shaft. For those that still confuse rowing and paddlesports: the paddle is not connected to the boat (unlike in rowing where the oar is connected to the boat). Furthermore rowers sit backwards while moving forward whereas paddlers will always face the direction they are going.

After this we discussed several wording alternatives with people from different continents, from different paddlesports and conducted a statistical analysis: the World Paddle Awards (WPA) was born. With the paddle and the water being the most important denominators.


The logo was equally challenging for which we commissioned a Dutch top designer. In the design we wanted the following to be included:

  1. the athlete
  2. the paddle
  3. the watercraft and the
  4. water. 

In paddlesports there are different types of watercrafts and paddles, which depend for example on the type of water (river, lake or ocean), the discipline (there are about 20 different disciplines) and being a competitive or recreational athlete.

Becoming too explicit with the four design elements mentioned above would again exclude some of the paddlesports contradicting our vision to unite them all.


At the time of posting this article, we are in the middle of designing the award. To be continued...

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