For those who prefer to canoe at speed in straight lines, sprinting is the choice. This is an Olympic sport over 200m, 500m and 1000m, usually in lanes of 8 or 9 canoeists. The locations in the UK that can accommodate this are the National Water Sports Centre, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham and the privately owned Dorney Lake at Eton; the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Unlike marathon racing, sprint racing is not for beginners. A minimum standard, based upon the time to cover the specific distance is required to enter the races. Canoeists have normally paddled for a least a year before reaching this standard. Having reached the minimum standard canoeists are categorised by a variety of age and gender groupings, such as Men, Women, Boys (under 18) and Girls (under 18), and within each category a ranking of A, B, C or D, with D being the slowest. Progression through the ranks is based on time.
There are five regattas during the year, in April, May, June, July and September, held on the regatta course at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham, each one over a weekend. Many people camp at the NWSC campsite and there is some accommodation available at the centre and obviously local B&Bs and hotels. July is the National Inter-Club Competition, the MacGregor Paddle.
All sprint races are held together in the one programme throughout a regatta weekend but there are slight differences depending upon whether an athlete is under 12 year of age, able-bodied or disabled: