The Sea/Open Water Grading System is an indication of the expected difficulty for a designated journey rather than a specific area or site. It is based on the paddling trip being carried out in up to “moderate” wind conditions (i.e. Beaufort Scale Force 4, 20-28 Km/ h, 11-16 Knots).

It is the overall grade for the trip also taking into account factors such as expected water conditions, swell, type of entry and exits distance between suitable landing spots and from land or forms of support and rescue, type of coast and other hazards (rocks, reefs, vessels etc).

SO1 - Easy

Sheltered flat water with minimal currents, easy entry and exits and <500m from safe landing sites.

SO2 - Medium

Unsheltered Inland open waters, estuaries and lakes, or sheltered coastline. Small waves / surf <0.5m, currents <2km/h, <1km crossings or from safe landing sites.

SO3 - Difficult

Sheltered coastal waters with possible wind against wave or tide effects and moderate breaking seas. Possible surf entry and exits <1m, currents <4km/h, up to 5km crossings or from safe landing sites.

SO4 - Advanced

Unsheltered coastal waters may encounter steepening swell and breaking seas, wind against wave or tide effects. Entry and exits may be difficult and involve negotiation of surf up to 2m.  May involve  fast currents <7km/h and <10km crossings or from safe landing sites

SO5 - Expert

Unsheltered coastal waters, isolated remote areas and ocean with crossings or distance from safe landing sites of up to 30km.  May encounter large, steep swell, breaking waves and complex fast currents. Possible dangerous surf entries and exits >2m