Nelo has been a pionner promoting ergonomic solutions for our boats, and even creating model ranges to fit the athletes perfectly, so the Paracanoe was a challenge we embraced.

From the start the aim has been to be close to the paddlers and coaches and understand their challenges and needs, and then introducing solutions in the boats that will allow them in the future to feel more comfortable and in the end paddle faster.

Viper 55The Viper 55 is a fast, yet stable Fitness Kayak. It can be used in flat or wavy conditions, and for cool paddles as for winter training for sprint paddlers in more bumpy waters. This wide range of applications makes it perfect for Paracanoe, as the athletes depending on their level will find an easy way to take the best out of this boat. For those that are being introduced to the sport just now, the Viper 60 also presents itself as a good option as it will allow them to have more confidence as they develop their skills

The line of fittings is being created and will not stop here. We hope that this page will turn out to be a meeting point and a start point for the continuous development of those fittings and specs that will allow this discipline of our Sport to spread and be one more option for many disabled athletes.

Paracanoe Paracanoe gives opportunities for paddlers with physical disabilities to participate and compete at club, national and international level. Working on the development of the sport for over four years, the Canoeing For All Committee, has improved and expanded the sport manifold and we see more and more athletes competing and enjoying Paracanoe around the world.


Paracanoe competiton now spans not only World Championships and continental competitions, but starting in 2016 also as a Paralympic event.

Races include the Women's and Men's 200m for athletes in the Legs Trunks and Arms category, the K2 200m for athletes in the Trunks and Arms or Arms only categories, and the V2 200m for athletes in any category. At the moment there are only K1 and V1 races open to Paracanoeists at International competition, but this may change as the sport expands.

  M W M W M W
K1 200m Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
V1 200m Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
K2 200m*     Yes Yes
V2 200m*     Yes Yes

*Mixed gender



LTA - Legs, Trunk and Arms

The LTA class is for paddlers with a disability who have functional use of their legs, trunk and arms for paddling, and who can apply force to the foot board or the seat to propel the boat.
Eligible LTA paddlers may typically have a minimum disability equivalent to one of the following:

  • Amputee
  • Neurological Impairment equivalent to incomplete lesion at S1
  • Cerebral Palsy Class 8 (CPISRA)

TA - Trunk and Arms

The TA class is for paddlers who have functional use of the trunk and arms. They are unable to apply continuous and controlled force to the footboard or seat to propel the boat due to significantly weakened function of the lower limbs.
Eligible TA paddlers may typically have a minimum disability equivalent to at least one of the following:

  • Bilateral around knee amputation, or significantly impaired quadriceps, or
  • Neurological impairment equivalent to a complete lesion at L3 level, or an incomplete lesion at L1, or
  • Combination of the above such as one leg with around knee amputation and one leg with significant quadriceps impairment; or
  • Classification by the international sports federation for paddlers with cerebral palsy (CPISRA) as eligible to be in CP Class 5.

A - Shoulder only

The A class is for paddlers who have no trunk function (i.e. shoulder function only). An A class paddler is able to apply force predominantly using the arms and/or shoulders. These athletes will likely also have poor sitting balance.
Eligible paddlers may typically have a minimum disability equivalent to at least one of the following:

  • Cerebral Palsy Class 4 (CP-ISRA); or
  • Neurological Impairment with a complete lesion at T12 level, or an incomplete lesion at T10.


Source: International Canoe Federation

More information about the Paracanoe discipline on the ICF website.


Instructional video on Nelo Paracanoe fittings

Fernando Fernandes

2010 Sprint World Champion | K1 200m

Fernando Fernandes "(...) the feeling of sitting on the water side by side and equal to any other human being gave me an inexplicable feeling."

Carla Ferreira

Paracanoe TV Report Fernando Fernandes e Carla Ferreira Tv Report (Portuguese)

Portuguese Paracanoe Champion

"When I'm in the water, I feel the same as everyone else."

Madeira's Ocean Training Center

Afonso Henriques Madeira's Ocean Training Center received a brand new Viper 55, destined to Afonso Henriques, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. This was the incentive the athlete need to achive new levels, ultimately competition. "A sincere thanks to NELO for the haste with wich they showed for this support."

February 29 2012

Interview with Paulo Barbosa da Silva | Paracanoe Coach

1. How do you do the first approach with the sport and the athlete?

Canoeing it’s a sport where the initiation should be carefully planned, so the future paddler doesn’t have a frustrating first experience (in case the boat capsizes).

The challenge of introducing canoeing, being Olympic or Paralympic, begins with a chat where the future paddler talks about his or her’s dreams and goals in the sport, in other words, what he looks for. Next the coach might present the challengers, goals and knowledge neede to achieve that dream.

The first contact with paddling could be accomplished as the adaptations offer safety, even if the athlete only manages to get in the boat, sensing and understanding what are his major challenges.

2. How do you encourage canoeing in favor of other sports?

We have to remember that the athlete chooses the sport and not the opposite, he chooses the sport the offers something that he’s looking for, many athletes start paddling for different reasons. Each sport activity has its advantages and all aim for the same goals, doing a sportive physical activity for better health, offering the possibility of different learnings, having as goal to provide moments of joy, fun and that offer personal or group challenges.

Canoeing is a sport performed in a liquid medium in wich the paddler is always in touch with nature, being individually or collectively, without physical contact. When learning to paddle, the athlete has the possibility to paddle anywhere the water conditions allows it, having the chance to discover new places. The sport’s challenges are directly connected to the athletes’ goals, by doing an expedition or winning a competition.

3. What are the main difficulties (challenges)?

When developing the “initiation” do Paralympic Canoeing the biggest challenge is to develop an adaptation that offers comfort, safety and movement autonomy. Each athlete presents a different need, so the adaptations are always very personal.

So the work is done safely, the medical knowledge of the future athlete is central. Knowing the limitations, medication, day to day care is fundamental to better know the athlete. As working with Paralympic athletes the trust between coach and athlete becomes the key to success.

As for the training routine the care taken when entering and exiting the boat needs a special attention, trying to reduce the possibility of an injury (cuts, scratches, bruises, wounds) this way, for those in wheel chairs always try to use EVA (foam that prevents ground contact).

When developing “Performance Training” in Paralympic Canoeing the major challenges are similar to the ones of the Olympic athletes, trying to evolve at each training day to achieve better performance. All the training theories apply to the Paralympic sport, “we are all different from one another, so, we need to adapt to our realities, being an Olympic or Parlympic athlete”. It’s the purpose of the coach to plan trainings that present to the athlete the oportunity to know his limitations and that explore his potential.

4. What is the major benefit of canoeing?

Canoeing is a distinct sport when compared with other Paralympic sports, because of the small adaptaions to the equipement, aiming to provide more comfort and safety to the athletes, but if we look at an athlete paddling an Olympic K1 and other paddling a Paralympic K1, we see diferences when looking carefully at the boat, as the mechanical movement (stroke) does not change.

When starting training the athlete will show gains in his motivation and self-worth with lots of benefits:

- Greater muscle control, generated by the strengthening of the torso’s stabilizing muscles (muscles responsible for stabilizing the body).

- Greater body equilibrium, with the better physical shape, the athlete will learn to control his body achieving more movement autonomy, being able to develop a stroke with more power and projecting his hands forward leaving them lined with the shoulders.

- Better flexibility, the athlete’s body position inside the boat determines the improvement in equilibirum, this way from the diferences in injury, the athlete will need to create scenarios where his body may be always in the boat’s center. Thus, the body conditions itself to always being in the same position. The work on flexibility is paramount for all athletes and specially to those on wheel chairs, due to muscle atrophy.

- More strenght, with the evolution in training the athlete will have adaptations concerning strength, having more muscle hypertrophy, and greater overall strength from training.

- Improvement in the daily life, with better muscle control, better body balance, better flexibility and more strength, there will be a significant improvement in activities beyond canoeing, such as moving and performing everyday tasks.

- Better self-esteem, as the athlete notices his evolution, gets better in training and at doing everyday activities, he will be more motivated in searching his life project. Depending on the injury, the athlete should adapt to his reality, aiming to surpass himself every day so he can paddle with more ease searching happiness.