Objective.—Directly experienced health impacts and the perception of health impacts affecting the wider community kayaking in the sea environment were assessed.
Methods.—Four hundred questionnaires were distributed at coastal launch sites in West Wales. One hundred and seventy-eight questionnaires were returned.
Results.—The majority of respondents had not received injuries or developed medical conditions as a result of kayaking in the sea. Among those who had directly encountered health impacts, problems with joints, tendons, and muscles were the most frequently reported injury. When asked what were the most common health impacts in general among those who kayak in the sea, ‘sprains and pulled muscles’ and ‘cuts and abrasions’ were the most frequently cited factors. The rank order of the ‘most common injury or medical condition’ and the ‘most commonly injured part of the body’ varied according to type of boat used and activity undertaken. This variation was evident in relation to direct experience of health impacts and the perception of injuries and medical conditions affecting other kayakers. Most respondents regarded injuries and medical conditions as uncommon and not serious and reported positive health effects from kayaking.
Conclusions.—Health impacts encountered by those kayaking in the sea reflect many of those identified in literature focusing upon other aspects of kayaking. Responses to questions regarding the most common injury or medical condition and the most common injury site vary according to type of boat used and activity undertaken. It is concluded that while there may be common demands placed upon paddlers using a variety of boats and participating in differing activities, it cannot be assumed that they are a homogeneous group. This has implications for the development of incident prevention strategies.