What is Squirt Boating?

squirt boating

About Squirt Boating

  • Invented: Early 1980s
  • Founded By: Jess Whittemore
  • Highest Governing Body: American Canoe Association

Squirt boating is a non-traditional event within the sport of freestyle kayaking. This sport has a focus on performing tricks in still water. The kayak that participants use is designed not to have much buoyancy, which allows for more maneuvers underneath the water. The squirt boat is normally 8 to 11 feet in length with a dense bow. Squirt boating was first introduced in the early 1980s by athletes who participated in whitewater kayaking competitions.

Pioneer Jess Whittemore developed one of the first squirt boats in the early 1980s, and this style of boat is still used in competition today. During squirt boat competitions, participants will use a traditional kayak paddle or circular paddles to perform tricks. Many of the tricks involved in squirt boating involve staying perpendicular to the surface of the water. Participants in competitions receive points during a 60-second choreographed routine. Currently, Claire O’Hara is one of the most successful squirt boat competitors in the world with multiple world championship titles.


What is squirt boating?

Squirt boating is a form of freestyle kayaking that has an emphasis on performing tricks in still water. The squirt boat is purposely designed to have less buoyancy, allowing riders to move more freely above and below the water surface. Riders can use traditional kayak paddles or circular hand paddles to propel themselves. In competition, participants are judged by their ability to complete certain maneuvers. The word “squirt” derives from the way in which boats shoot forward when being squeezed through the water. 

What are the biggest squirt boating events?

The Ocoee River Championships is one of the biggest multidiscipline whitewater competitions in the world. The three-day competition consists of various kayaking sports, including freestyle, slalom, SUP, boatercross, downriver, raft, and squirt boating. There are normally around 135 athletes who will participate in the competitions. Another major squirt boating event is in the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships. The competition usually occurs over an eight-day span in early July.

What type of boat is used in squirt boating?

The squirt boat is similar to a kayak but built and designed differently. Materials used to construct a squirt boat include kevlar, fiberglass, and carbon. These boats intentionally have less buoyancy to encourage movements underneath the surface of the water. The bow of the kayak is dense and allows for easy knee movement. Participants in squirt boating will likely have a boat with a length of 8 to 11 feet long, and a shorter boat allows for easier maneuvers.