You’d like to think that sports commentators at least might vaguely know what they’re talking about rather than non-sports journalists, for whom a lack of knowledge is a forgivable sin. But it’s not always so – and this time it’s back to school for Vassos Alexander, the sports commentator on BBC Radio 2′s Chris Evans breakfast show.
Asked this morning to explain the difference between canoeing and kayaking Alexander proved, yet again, that if you don’t know what you’re talking about it’s better to say so and not give the appearance of utter ignorance and risk confusing the audience completely.
“In kayaking you’ve got an oar on each side,” Alexander started, before really confusing the two completely: “In canoes, you’re sitting down with a stick, for want of a better word, with a paddle on one end…but in kayaks you’re kneeling down with just one.”
Oh dear. Perhaps the BCU could provide a handy cut-out-and-keep idiot’s guide to enable the BBC to look half-knowledgeable.
Updated And thanks to those who emailed in to ask that we provide a definition. So here is, ahem, our best attempt.
Canoes are small narrow boats that at competitions such as the Olympic Games are only human powered (but you can propel them with motors or sails at other times!). Racing canoes are propelled by single bladed paddles and competitors kneel in the boat. In Sprint Canoeing, competitors adopt a ‘high kneeling’ position. Racing canoes are steered by adjusting the paddle stroke, not a rudder. And, for shorthand, Canadian canoes are designated “C” and the number of paddlers is indicated: C1 (one man), C2, (two man), C4 (four man – not an Olympic Sport)
Kayaks are also small narrow, human powered boats. Unlike canoes, kayaks are propelled by the use of double-bladed paddles. And competitors sit in or on their craft rather than kneel. Sprint kayaks are steered with a rudder (though slalom kayaks are not). And, for shorthand, Kayaks are designated “K” and the number of paddlers is indicated: K1 (one man), K2 (two man), K4 (four man).
And, yes, when I say ‘man’, I mean ‘paddler’. Though, obviously women don’t race Canadian canoes at the Olympics. And that, as they say, is a whole other story.
(All pictures from GB Canoeing)