Introduction to Basic Skills

Introduction to Basic Skills online resource

Welcome to the NSWSKC Basic Skills online resource.  This resource sets out video demonstrations, text and photographs of key skills at the Basic Skills level for sea kayaking. This resource has been written and compiled by NSWSKC instructors and paddlers. 

About this resource 

NSWSKC has developed this online resource to demonstrate skills and inspire our club members to constantly improve and progress their sea kayaking. Promotion of safe sea kayaking is a core aim of the club and this resource.

The majority of our club membership are at the Grade 2 (Basic Skills) level. We identified that the biggest ongoing training need in our club is to equip Grade 1 -2 paddlers with basic skills.

Over half of our membership live outside of the Sydney region, making it hard for some members to attend the largely Sydney-based training.

This online resource is not intended to replace practical on-water training. It is intended to support our volunteer instructors and help ‘spread them further’. It should inspire and help members to improve and correct their techniques.  At any level, paddlers will find something here.

Put simply, the more competent you become, the more you will enjoy sea kayaking. Of course the best way to use this resource is to watch the video clips, study the text, and get out on the water and put the skills into practice in a safe and enjoyable way.


Our training role

The New South Wales Sea Kayak Club is a registered National Training Provider. The club's training program is based on Australian Canoeing standards with the addition of some procedures developed by the NSWSKC.

The club has developed a training program with the goal of setting common standards across all members. In the event of an incident occurring on the ocean each paddler applies the same principles, and shares a common knowledge of techniques and skills, minimising the risk of a small incident becoming a major incident.

Members of our Club can achieve Club and Australian Canoeing Qualifications by attending appropriate courses, by the club recognising prior learning or qualifications, or by simply working on their skills while out on trips.

To find out more about our standards, training role and recognition of prior leading you can contact the Training Coordinator or refer to our pages:


Grading system

The NSWSKC grading system is based on Australian Canoeing standards and provides a number of pathways including trip leading, training and extending personal sea skills.

The club has grades so that trip leaders understand the minimum standard that paddlers have met when taking them out on a trip. This provides a common understanding of techniques for rescues, towing etc.  

Grade 1

The first step for new members is Grade 1 which includes the ability to wet exit a kayak and swim 50 metres in kayak clothing including life jacket. This grade is designed so that trip leaders can be confident that paddlers are able to safely get out of their kayak if they capsize. 

Grade 2: Basic Skills

The next step is Grade 2: Basic Skills. This consists of the basic skills of sea kayaking and includes forward stroke, manoeuvring strokes, rescue techniques, towing techniques, packing your kayak, weather and tides. The objective of this grade is to equip members with the skills necessary to safely participate in club activities, especially those on open water, and to work towards the more demanding sea skills grade.

Grade 3: Sea Skills

Grade 3: Sea Skills consists of demonstrating the above skills on the ocean and includes an additional navigation component, kayak roll and surf landings.

Grades 1 and 2 are both NSWSKC standards, whilst Sea Skills is an Australian Canoeing standard. 

Further development

Once a paddler has attained grade 3 they can go on to further develop their skills as a grade 4 paddler or choose to go down a training or guiding path.

For more information on our grading system see our page: Paddler Grading System.


This resource has been made possible by the assistance of a grant from NSW Government under a 2010/2011 Sport and Recreation Participation Grant Program. This grant enabled us to film and produce the video demonstration sequences.

The content for this resource has been written by NSWSKC instructors and members on a volunteer basis.

Video and internet production

Cathy Miller - project producer, video producer, scriptwriter
Matthew Bezzina - photographs
Mel MacPherson - video cinematographer
Kevin Scott - additional cinematography
Brian Stone - video editor
Ian Vaile - additional editing, technical support
Brett Beswick - jetski driver, SLSA
Glenn Harvey - graphic design
Stephan Meyn - Internet Coordinator

Special thanks to the following Club instructors and members who have volunteered their time, skills and knowledge for the video demonstrations,  copywriting and content reviews:

Steve Bell
Matthew Bezzina
Adrian Clayton
Tom Cox
Key Day
Raewyn Duffy
Andrew Eddy
David Fisher
John Jakimyszyn
Chris James
Peter Kappelmann
Owen Kimberley
Rob Mercer
Cathy Miller
John Piotrowski
Claudia Schremmer
Mark Schroeder
Michael Steinfeld
Stuart Trueman
Ian Vaile
Trevor Waters


Music reproduced under Creative Commons Licence:

Kevin MacLeod

Audio Jungle Best 10 Corporate (Royalty free)

The Internet Audio Guy – Ten Free


The NSW Sea Kayak Club Inc has produced these instructional videos for the benefit of its members and the wider sea kayaking community in good faith.The Club acknowledges that there may be other ways of performing the same sea kayaking skills.

These videos contain general instruction only and you should seek your own accredited sea kayaking instruction.

Sea kayaking is a dangerous recreational activity. You should not sea kayak without proper instruction and experience on the water otherwise you expose yourself to the obvious dangers of sea kayaking which, at its worst, are drowning, hypothermia or injury.   

The NSW Sea Kayak Club Inc does not accept responsibility for loss, damage, injury or even death as a consequence of using the information on this website.