canoeing, sport of propelling a canoe through water. John MacGregor, an English barrister and founder of the Royal Canoe Club (est. 1865), is generally credited with being the initiator of modern sport canoeing. Between 1849 and 1869, MacGregor wrote a number of popular books describing his experiences on long canoe trips throughout Europe. Sport canoeing today may either involve recreational journeys or fixed-distance racing. Racing canoes are propelled by either sails or paddles. The International Challenge Cup, one of the oldest existing canoeing trophies, was originally offered by the New York Canoe Club (1885) as a perpetual challenge sailing prize. Canoe racing with paddles first became an official Olympic event at the Berlin games in 1936. The two types of Olympic canoe races are those among kayaks and Canadian canoes. The kayak, a buoyant arctic canoe that is completely covered except for its cockpit(s), is raced by both men and women. The Canadian, the typical North American canoe, is raced only by men. Canoes are also used as combination outdoors recreation-transportation vehicles. This type of canoeing is especially popular in the N United States. Whitewater canoeing, in which the vessel is navigated through rapids, is quite popular in many areas of the United States.
See studies by J. Malo (1969 and 1971) and R. D. Mead (1976).