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Whitewater Grading System

UQCC Policy: Club White Water Trips and Grading
(adopted September 2017)

This skill grading, equipment and river grading system is provided for members' benefit, describing a clear set of parameters designed to illustrate club policy for club white water events. Through inspection of the grading system and discussion with the particular trip leaders, prospective paddlers should determine whether they and their equipment meet the participation requirements.

Please note that the Club grading system is not a direct reflection of the International River Grading System (IRGS). The IRGS refers to specific rivers and/or rapids and their level of difficultly, whereas the Club grading policy refers to the experience and river conditions that will be expected to be seen on different Club trips. Both Grading scales are placed below for ease of understanding.

For intermediate and higher events, club members are required to have either the AC White Water Skills award or equivalent skills be assessed (as per the Intermediate Skills assessment). This assessment may be performed on any club paddling activity with prior notice or at a club assessment event. The successful assessment will be recorded in the club records and the member's log.

There is no requirement for assessment for Intro and Novice events.


  • Attendance to white water events must be confirmed as directed by the event registration instructions.
  • All official club events will be cancelled from the club's program if there is a strong variation from the scope of river levels which are deemed acceptable for the river or due to dangerous weather conditions (including flooding)
  • Trip leader to participant ratio (refer AC safety guidelines 2009)
    • 1:6 on G2 River conditions with 2 guides in the overall group and dependant on the skill level of participants
    • 1:4 on G3 River conditions and above
    • Smaller ratios may be necessary dependant on individual trip requirements or needs at the discretion of the Trip Leader and committee
Club EventAny event, paddle, or activity scheduled by the UQCC (generally posted on the UQCC web site events calendar and/or in a club email.)
EquipmentAll relevant items recommended, required, or utilised by a person participating in a club event
MemberAny current fully financial member of the University of Queensland Canoe Club Inc (UQCC)
WW GuidePerson who holds the WW Guide qualification recognised by Australian Canoeing
White Water KayakAs per Australian Canoeing Safety Guidelines. The kayak or canoe must be constructed specifically to reduce the risk of bending, folding or entrapment. Specifically, craft should be fitted with internal supports to resist folding. The cockpit setup should be such that the vessel grips the occupant firmly for maximum control and so that the occupant can exit the vessel easily.
  • Craft should not collapse onto the paddler's legs
  • Depth of the cockpit, height of cockpit rim and any seat strapping must not impede exit
  • Any restraining device must be single handed, single action, quick release
  • Bow and stern must be rounded
  • Apart from the cockpit, the boat should be filled with buoyant material, excluding as much water as possible
  • Craft shall not sink when swamped, should remain horizontal and should support its occupant in the water
  • End loops or toggles should be fitted within 30 cm of the bow and stern, minimum diameter of 10 mm with a breaking strain of 8000 N. The loops must not allow the full insertion of a hand
  • Footrests should be constructed so that feet will not become jammed.
WW InstructorPerson who holds the WW Instructor qualification recognised by Australian Canoeing
WW Trip LeaderPerson or persons duly authorised by the club to lead a club WW trip.

Individual Equipment Prerequisites All Grades

Well maintained and seaworthy WW KayakMMM
Stern Floats (Boyancy Bags)MMM
Australian or NZ standards approved Personal Floatation Device (PFD) with signalling Whistle (Fox 40)MMM
White Water rated HelmetMMM
White Water PaddleMMM
Breakdown Paddle (4 piece)OOM
Spraydeck (use previously demonstrated)MMM
Adequate water for the duration and setting of the tripMMM
Clothing that is suitable for the temperature and conditions, as well as adequate for sun protectionMMM
Dry bagsOMM
Footwear suitable for paddling, swimming and walking on rocksMMM
Space blanket, Emergency lightingOOM
Duct Tape or Gaffer's TapeMMM
Pin Kit (could include carabiners, prusiks, webbing and pullies)NAOM
Throw Rope (at least 18mtrs)NAOM
Emergency foodOOM
Nourishment for the duration of the tripMMM
NA= Not Applicable O= Optional; M = Mandatory

Group Equipment All Grades

Spare Paddle, First aid kit, Space blanket, emergency lighting, Duct tape (or equivalent)MMM
Group ShelterMMM
Pin Kit (could include carabiners, prusiks, webbing and pullies)MMM
Throw Ropes (20mtrs, 9.1mm, 13kns)MMM
Other gear as determined by the trip leader/s---
O= Optional; M = Mandatory


UQCC Club Grading Scale



  • Foundation course for white water techniques
  • Paddling rapids of grade 1 and 2 standard
  • Intro trips develop boat control, safety awareness and confidence in rapids
Paddler Requirements
  • For beginners with some paddling experience recommended
  • Paddlers should have an appropriate level of fitness, which will enable them to safely paddle and perform the training drills and exercises
  • Individuals must self assess their, and their equipment's, ability to participate in this level club event and should consult the trip leader if any aspect of their suitability requires clarification.
Trip Leader Requirements
  • Equipment as per trip leader Novice trip requirements
  • Skills requirements as per Club Trip Leader Documentation
  • Open to members (at the trip leader's discretion)
  • Paddling in rapids up to grade 2 standard (Portaging of higher grade rapids)
Paddler Requirements
  • Completed the WW Intro trips to an appropriate standard
  • Paddlers should have an appropriate level of fitness, which will enable them to safely paddle the distance specified in the trip plan, and have demonstrated defensive swimming, wet exiting and catching a throw bag (during intro course)
  • Individuals must self assess both their paddling and equipment's ability to participate in this level of paddle and should consult the trip leader if any aspect of their suitability requires clarification.
Trip Leader Requirements
  • Equipment as per trip leader Novice trip requirements
  • Skill requirements as per Club Trip Leader Documentation



  • Open to members who have undertaken previous club training and/or personal paddling
  • Intermediate standard of paddling in rapids graded up to Grade 3 (portaging of higher grade rapids)
Paddlers Requirements
  • Paddlers are required to have been assessed as competent to grade 2 level (either using the Intermediate assessment or by having their AC White Water Skills Award)
  • Paddlers must be capable of performing self rescue, and be able to provide and maintain safety in rapids with a base understanding of white water rescue concepts
  • Conditions may require longer portages and walking around rapids
  • It is favourable, but not necessary to have a combat roll
  • Paddlers should have an appropriate level of fitness, which will enable them to safely paddle the distance specified in the trip plan with frequent breaks and stops
Trip Leaders Requirements
  • Equipment as per trip leader Intermediate trip requirements
  • Skill requirements as per Club Trip Leader Documentation


  • Open to experienced members (at the Trip Leader's discretion)
  • Must have AC Advanced WW Skills Awards or equivalent skill level
  • Grade 4 and higher rapids
Paddlers' Requirements
  • Paddlers must have tested their skills in G3 and higher rapids, know their limits and be self-reliant
  • Paddlers must have a bomb-proof combat roll
  • Paddlers must have significant WW safety and rescue training and the ability to confidently manage safety and rescue in rapids
Trip Leaders Requirements
  • Trip Leaders must hold a minimum of AC Advanced WW Instructor qualification and be authorised by the UQCC committee.


International River Grading System
This grading system provides an indication of the degree of difficulty of a rapid and/or a river. It is not an absolute scale and other factors including remoteness, water levels and variations in vegetation can all affect the interpretation and grading of a river and/or rapid.

The descriptions are a basic guide to the grades (Note that as a club, we will not run trips higher than a 3+ grading).

The IRGS is located here (taken from Australian Canoeing's Safety Guidelines, 2012).