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Newquay Activity Centre


Paddlesports Leader
Development Course


OAIC Intro

Gain confidence in your craft

  • Gain confidence paddling three types of craft: kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard (SUP)
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Learn all the skills you need to pass the Paddlesport Leader Award assessment
  • Your gateway to a job in the outdoor industry… or simply an opportunity for personal development

Eager to sharpen your paddling skills in some of Cornwall’s most beautiful spots? This intensive training will boost your competency across three types of craft – kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) – and prepare you for the nationally-recognised assessment.  Suitable for all levels of experience. We aim to get you to the next level!


Want More Info?

Would you like to find out a bit more about us or one of our courses?

OAIA Contact Form

Course Dates


10th June – 20th June
18th November – 28th November

Paddlesports Leadership Course CornwallAbout this course


We created our Paddlesports Leader Development Course so you can hone your paddling and leadership skills – and go on to lead group trips if you choose. The eight-day, intensive programme prepares you for the British Canoeing Paddlesport Leader Award assessment (a UK and internationally recognised award) that will enable you to lead groups of paddlers safely and set you up for a job in the outdoor industry.

If instructing or leading group trips isn’t for you, you can skip the exam, and simply enjoy watching your paddling and leadership prowess grow. 



  • 7 days of training in multiple crafts (sit-on-top kayak, closed-cockpit kayak, stand-up paddleboard and canoe)
  • 1-day Paddlesport Leader Award assessment
  • Opportunity to pick up shadowing hours 
  • All equipment supplied throughout the course
  • Guaranteed job interview with Newquay Activity Centre after the course

If you’ve never tried Paddlesports before that’s not a problem. We’ve got plenty of time to perfect your skills, and if you don’t think you’re quite ready for your assessment our team will come up with a Pathway Development Plan to get you there. And we’ll continue to support you along your journey even after the course has finished.

Paddlesports Leadership Course NewquayIf you think you may benefit from a few extra sessions before or during the course, please check out our paddlesports lessons and get in touch, we will discuss how this works. Please bear this in mind for any other technical skill that you think could need improvement.

If you’re already a seasoned paddler, your skills will soar under the guidance of our expert team. We’ll help you brush up on everything from technical skills to group management and even public speaking. You’ll also learn about route navigation and equipment management – storage, transport and handling of kit are vital skills that will soon become second nature.

You may also be upskilling in a different type of craft to what you’re used to – our multi-discipline training focuses on kayaks (both sit-on-top and closed-cockpit versions), canoes and SUPs. 

Paddleboarding Training CornwallItinerary


The course is spread over eight days. In your downtime, you can borrow our equipment and practise your paddling or add extra shadowing hours. Here’s a rundown of what happens day-to-day. NB – the itinerary below is dependent on conditions and other variables, so should be used only as a guide.


DAY 1 

Meet and greet, welcome to the centre and course introduction – both on the water and in the classroom. Kayaking around the Newquay coastline – introduction and skills development on all craft.



SUP skills development, introduction to navigation and tidal planning. Safeguarding workshop in the evening.


DAY 3 

Exploring more of the north coastline – skills development on different craft, introduction to water safety and rescue, and incident management. Try out kayak surfing and rock hopping (playing between the rocks when the swell hits).



Head to the south coast for more exploration. Incident management, water safety and rescue. Continuing to develop technical skills. Focusing on soft skills, such as group management and public speaking, and leading groups on the water. 



Travel back to the south coast to continue developing technical skills – paddling techniques, incident management, water safety and rescue, navigation and trip planning. Development of soft skills.



Today, we’ll prepare for your exam. Honing your navigation and tidal planning skills to run trips. More exploring and working on both hard and soft skills. 



Mock exams. Organising your route for your exam and fine-tuning skills – group management, water safety and rescue, and incident management. Prep for your exam and do any last-minute checks for the trip you will lead on your assessment.



Your assessment involves a day on the water leading a group of real clients – and giving them a great day out! Expect a few ‘incidents’ along the way to test your leadership, dynamic decision-making and first aid skills…

Paddleboarding Training CornwallCalling all paddlers


If you like the idea of being surrounded by water, good people and good times, then it’s probable that life as a Paddlesports leader is for you. 

This course is suitable for seasoned paddlers, in one or all crafts and it’s great for total beginners too.

You don’t need to be proficient in any paddle sports; we have excellent instructors who can teach you from the ground up.

As you can imagine you will be learning lots of technical skills from our team. Plus you’ll be mastering a few different crafts, so there is a lot to learn if you’re starting from scratch. To achieve the final Paddlesport Leader qualification you need paddling experience, something that can be a challenge to achieve in two weeks. However, we have proved this to be achievable for many of our students who were first-time paddlers when they signed up to the course.

It’s not a problem if you’ve never SUP’ed Kayaked or Canoed before. We’ve got plenty of time to perfect your skills, and if you don’t think you’re quite ready for your assessment our team will come up with a pathway development plan to get you there. And we’ll continue to support you along your journey.

Paddleboarding Training Cornwall

Our team is happy to advise on how to up your experience and start your journey as a paddler!

If you think you may benefit from a few extra sessions before or during the course, please check out our surf lessons and get in touch, we will discuss how this works. Please bear this in mind for any other technical skill that you think could need improvement.

In terms of personal skills, you’ll need :

  • Patience and the ability to work well with others
  • Enthusiasm to learn and train
  • Sensitivity and understanding
  • Leadership skills
  • To be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • The ability to work on your own
  • Knowledge of the English language
  • To be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
  • The ability to retain important information
  • The ability to remain calm when faced with new situations


  • Enthusiasm for paddlesports, the sea and exploring waterways
  • Be 18 or over
  • Be medically and physically fit
  • Safeguarding course (this is included in your course time)
  • A one-day First Aid qualification (we can offer this outside of course dates, so chat with us if you need to organise this)
  • British Canoeing membership (this is included in our course fees – let us know if you’ve already got it)

Kayak Training CornwallGo intensive


We’ve been delivering training courses since 2001. Here are some of the reasons why our intensive Paddlesports Leader Development Course takes away the headache of doing it on your own!

The assessment is a three-on-one whammy! By doing this one assessment, you’ll be qualified to lead trips in three different types of craft.

This is a development course that will take you from zero to hero to be able to pass the assessment. Afterwards, our pathway plan will help you do exactly what you want to do with this award.

You’ll also gain valuable industry experience. You’ll be working in and with Newquay Activity Centre, an active, working outdoor centre.

Post-course, we’ll offer you a pathway plan to help develop your next step in the industry. Whether that’s simply going off and doing something personal or working abroad, we have experience throughout the centre to help you on the exact path you want to take.

Kayak Training CornwallWe’ll teach you soft skills and hard skills – plus extra things that are not on the syllabus but that will be an essential part of your job while you’re working in paddlesports. For instance, we’ll make sure you know how to lift and handle your craft, and how to attach them to your trailer or roof rack. You’ll get all this and more in addition to what’s on the British Canoeing syllabus. 

Outdoor AcademyOur Headquarters


Our purpose-designed building is ideally located within walking distance to Towan Beach, Fistral Beach, Newquay Bay as well as the bustling town centre itself.

Our state of the art HQ, with toilets, heated changing rooms, hot outdoor showers, lockers for valuables and storage for clothes and bags. Although we prefer to use the beach and ocean as our classroom, we do have a nearby training room for our theory work.



If you’ve surfed or kayaked before you’ll know how much kit and equipment there is, and it can be a daunting prospect having to pay for it all. So, for the duration of the course, we have all of the necessary equipment stocked in our centre for our students to use for free. At the beginning of the course you’ll get supplied with key kit to use for the duration of the course or until you get your own.

FacilitiesOnce you sign up to the course you’ll be supplied with a kit list too and advice on where to get it. We’ve got some great and trusted suppliers so there’s even discounted rates for our students too!

Our knowledgeable team is always happy to offer advice on kit and equipment before, during and after the course!



During the course we’re keen to support you in upskilling yourself so we’ll allocate you use of our equipment during your spare time throughout the course.  If you want to improve your surfing, kayaking, bodyboarding, SUPing etc during the evenings or weekends, our equipment is ready to be used.

This is an unusual privilege on a training course like this but we feel it will offer you an excellent opportunity to up-skill throughout the course. Please note this will need to be booked in with the centre for your required times.

Paddleboarding Kayaking AccommodationAccommodation


Newquay has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. At the top end, we recommend Oceanside Hotel. It’s perfectly placed near Fistral Beach and has 28 rooms with a cool coastal style, some with balconies overlooking the surf. Plus, our guests receive a 10% discount (chat with us about this option).

For something more budget-friendly, Smarties Surf Lodge is a great, affordable option. Expect a chilled-out vibe and a range of accommodation choices, from ensuite doubles to bunk rooms with shared bathrooms.

We also recommend Lazy Waves, a small B&B with ocean views and a brilliant location near Towan Beach and the town’s shops and cafes.

Prefer to stay in your van? There is a range of campsites and touring parks within a short drive of Newquay town centre, including Trethiggey Holiday Park. 

Please note that accommodation is not included in the price of the course.

Payment Plans



When booking one of our courses the are four easy options for payment:


1. PAY IN FULL – Pay the full amount in one, that’s it, you’re done!

2. 50/50 – Pay 50% deposit and the remaining 50% at an agreed date

3. MONTHLY PAYMENT PLAN – Pay an initial holding fee (of as little as £100 and we can then set up monthly payments to come out on the 1st of each month.


We can’t guarantee your place until we have received a payment from you. To hold the place for more than 24 hours we require a non-returnable holding fee. This can be as little as £100 and will be deducted from your final payment for the course.

Once you have made a payment, you’ll then be sent a confirmation email with booking details on. Full Payment must be received 12 weeks prior to the course start date.

Kayaking Training CoursesLife after the course


Post-qualification, there is the potential to land a job as a paddlesports leader with Newquay Activity Centre or one of the other outdoor activity schools in Newquay. Or, of course, you could take your qualification anywhere in the UK as it is recognised nationally.


If you’re thinking of heading inland that doesn’t mean you need to stop paddling! The Paddlesports Leader qualification is perfect for working on boating lakes, lochs, and rivers. Plus, we’ll make sure you’re clear on other paddling quals you can work towards.


This qualification is recognised internationally so why note take a working holiday abroad. Our Academy graduates are all over the world so we’re constantly getting new spots and contacts all over the globe!

You’re guaranteed to make new friends, create awesome memories and maybe even open your horizons with regards to your career plans. Travel is food for the soul; this kind of opportunity doesn’t come around every day!


Want More Info?

Would you like to find out a bit more about us or one of our courses?

OAIA Contact Form

Course Dates


10th June – 20th June
18th November – 28th November


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