This year, the rules that previously defined the wildwater boat with two basic parameters have changed. With the introduction of the new rule, one of the parameters that previously bore the typical features of a wildwater boat was canceled. The new restriction only monitors the maximum length, not the width. In previous years, the minimum width was set at 60 cm (K1), 70 cm (C1), 80 cm (C2).
The boats were given a specific shape in order to stand out on wild water. Optimal stability, dynamic and speed are expected from a boat designed primarily for wild rivers. Todays technology has been moved to next level and it is difficult to produce a more perfect and faster types. With this impulse, a new rule apparently came - "We will make a faster ship by taking its characteristic feature." At the first brief a good idea, but it turned out to be an absolute nonsense. When you think about it, you will find that it may lead to the end of the wildwater sport.
Canoeing is a minority sport that doesn't rely on financial support from sponsors, companies or organizations. It is a sport where we (the comunity) are the main actors / creators, donators and we are doing everything we can to develop the best possible way.
"If I could speak for myself and for the entire coaching section - we are of the unanimous opinion that it is against the development of sports and we don‘t agree with this decision. We regret that the opinion of the largest federations has not been taken into account in deciding these rules. This undisputed topic is a shot in the dark. And no one knows how it will turn out," adds Robert Knebel, the head coach of the national team in the white water convention.
"For me, it has nothing to do with the development of sport, although some argue that it is a 'natural development of sport.' Whatever I mean by this term, this is not a natural development of the sport. Six people decided on this change, without any testing, previous experience or knowledge. They just changed the rules, and I don't think it's a "natural development," adds Robert Knebel.
In recent years, world races have moved to rivers that are not as unique and technically interesting as they used to be. By developing a speedboat, designed more for flat watter, we are going against the fact that a wild river will never be raced again. This year, the only World Cup race will take place in Celje, Slovenia - on a section that is more like a chanel for flat water paddlers. New types of boats will probably excel in this race, but is this really the direction we want to take?
"I understand that there is a tendency to speed up the times, but this way it is not suitable for us. It will not add to our spectator attractiveness. It will all be more about how many ships someone owns than how much they train. We are not an Olympic sport where big money is being made. We are not protected and we do not have big sponsors. Our federation can't afford to pay for the national team now because of the money, not to mention the purchase of new ships. That is impossible,” reaction of Zuzana Dziadková, a member of the national team in the wwc. "Evolution is needed. We need to keep up with the times. But this change is quite unfortunate at the moment. Even if it was necessary, we are far from that point now. In short, the changes need to be timed well."
The response of world competitors on this topic is huge and has sparked many controversial debates.
„I was frustrated when the minimum width was removed, although I had been arguing against it since I heard about the intention. I didn't feel there was ever a majority for it. But I had to realize that ICF rule changes were not democratic and that factual arguments were simply dismissed. The arguments I made in the official statement in February 2020 had previously been unanimously voted on in the representative German body,“≠ german coach Achom Overbeck also comments on the current situation. „I personally support the reintroduction of the minimum width, should it be possible in the short term (within a year). I would then also recommend this for the reintroduction in Germany.“
In recent years, Kick the waves has sought to support the development program. We provide ships, equipment or materials to developing countries. We are trying to make this sport more accessible to those who could never afford to buy new equipment. With the new rule, our efforts lose their meaning as the money invested suddenly wastes.
"I am glad I was elected to the ICF commission in the fall of 2021. I will do my best to repeal this nonsensical rule. As a shipbuilder, I have to say that this could be an interesting marketing opportunity, but her eis no space for business. I will fight for the sport, which everyone from u sloves!” comments Tomáš Slovák, a member of the congress committee and owner of Kick the waves.
Silke Kassner, a longtime international worker of sports and sports politics, also commented the non-discussed topic: “I am suprised about the new rule setting. Changes are needed, but the change must be based on facts. We have to ask the question: How do we want to move in today's media and constantly evolving environment, where do we want to go and what is our competitive vision of wild water racing? ”
I have been part twice in a revision process of the World Anti-Doping Code given by World Anti-Doping Agency. A Code revision is set in a timeline and is settled with a working and revision proceeding to elaborate the anti-doping regulation which is for sure the most complex regulations known in the world of sports. I know how introducing new rules works and this process is really complicated. Before setting a new rule, all national federations, their coaches and athletes' spokespersons must be involved in the process of change.
I expect that the ICF implements such a revision proceeding for the future with wildwater racing federations. This is necessary, regarding that only coaches, athletes and maybe referees may have a competition relevant feeling how to elaborate our regulations in detail If we want to change something, we have to ask ourselves the question "Where do we want to move as wild water athletes?".
We live in a time when every outdated trend is losing its significance and facing the pressures of modern initiatives. We can each answer the simple question "What vision do we have since the descent on wild water?" If this vision includes commercial overtaking of who will have more types of boats, paddling on flat water in exchange for beautifully natural rivers, the disappearance of the development program, soiling and slandering of competing shipbuilders, sympathy for commercial sports, non-communication across federations and similarly, the vision seems to cling to the destruction of a sport we call WILD WATER PADDLING.