Sports Guide

Sports Guide: Playboating

By Dawn NgEvents - 21 January 2010 7:46 AM | Updated 12 August 2010

Sports Guide: Playboating


If you love the water, have a need for speed and get an adrenalin high from battling the forces of nature, then playboating is the sport for you. From spins to flips to cartwheels in the water, this extreme sport offers adrenalin junkies the chance to challenge themselves and pit their skills against Mother Nature.


What is playboating?

While not much is known about the origin and background of playboating, it is a well-known fact that this unusual sport has its roots in white-water kayaking or canoeing.

Unlike its more conventional counterparts like where paddlers travel down the length of a river, playboating requires the paddler to perform a variety of exciting and technical moves while remaining in a particular spot in the water.

Basic playboating moves consist of front and back surfing, spins, as well as stalls, which sees the kayak standing vertical on either end. The aim is to remain surfing (staying at the same spot) after each move rather than being swept away by the water.

Once these basics are mastered, playboaters then move on to more complex stunts, which usually consist of a combination of the aforementioned moves.  To do this, specialised canoes or kayaks, better known as playboats, are used and paddlers often perform daring tricks and stunts similar to those of snowboarders or skaters.


I want to be a playboater 

“Playboating is about manipulating your body and boat to attempt difficult and adrenaline pumping movements in water,” explained Nor Bahsi, a playboating trainer with Paddle Culture.

Definitely not a sport for the faint-hearted, advanced playboaters typically require stronger currents and rushing waters to execute difficult and heart-stopping stunts and manoeuvres.


What skills do I need?

As with all water sports, safety is of paramount importance and beginners to playboating should be able to swim and be confident in open waters.

“We recommend that the beginners to playboating have at least a two-star certificate in canoeing,” advised Nor. “Although this is not mandatory, it is advisable as you would need some basic concepts of kayak safety and movements before picking up playboating,” she said.

A typical playboating class, especially for beginners is fun, where one of the first basics taught is to roll, as this equips them the skill of recovering the boat to an upright position should a capsize occur.

“Playboating is very much an expression of yourself but you would definitely enjoy it a lot more if you did not have to come out of the kayak each time you capsize and empty water from it,” explained Nor.

Apart from teaching students how to roll, classes also lay the groundwork for future playboating moves by training core strength and build-up movements, said Nor. These movements help to strengthen the body and aid in students’ understanding of how to use the boat to do stunts.


Where do I sign up?

If you think playboating is the sport for you, then check out the classes offered by Paddle Culture. For more information, log on to or email Nor at [email protected]