Whitewater open canoes used for slalom racing are derived from traditional open Canadian or Native American canoe designs, which feature bow and stern ends which are pointed and sit higher than the middle of the hull. Whitewater open canoes (WWOC) are also categorized by their symmetrical side-to-side profile, and they are propelled with single bladed paddles by a paddler that kneels for maximum stability and control. A slalom course is set for the competition using vertical poles for gates and the paddler attempts to negotiate the course in numerical order without touching any poles or missing any gates in the fastest time possible. There are time penalties for touching or missing gates. The course is usually 200 to 300 yards in length. Slalom racing encourages paddlers to learn to control their boat on tight and technical rivers.
There are two categories of canoes used in WWOC Slalom competitions: Recreational and Racing. The recreational classes are intended to include canoes sold for general recreational use. In general, ABS, polyethylene, aluminum, and wood/canvas canoes will qualify for inclusion in this category. Fiberglass/Kevlar/composite and wood-strip canoes will generally be included in the racing classes but the final determining factor is a weight per length ratio. Lighter boats can only be entered in Racing class. A recreational weight boat can be entered in either class but will be at a disadvantage against lighter race boats. Limited spray decks are allowed and floatation is required for both the boat and paddler.
Slalom is contested on class II-III whitewater with occasional class IV features and moves. See the WWOC Slalom competition rules for complete details and boat specifications.