Although there had been international regattas involving the UK, USA and Canada as early as 1886 and again between the UK, Germany and Italy in the years before 1914, there was no recognised World Championship until 1938. This was held under the authority of the predecessors of the present International Canoe Federation, in 7.5m 2 Canoes of German origin. There were no British or American competitors and the gold medal went to Eric Ericsson of Sweden.
In 1946 the reconstituted ICF adopted the 10m 2 Canoe, as developed in Britain and the United States, for international competition but the first World Championship was not held until 1961. The venue was Hayling Island on the South coast of England. The British competitors dominated the event, taking the first six places and Alan Emus took the first of his three gold medals.
The next championship in 1965, was held in what was then West Germany, on Lake Constance. Alan Emus again took the gold, but others were learning and the Swede Lars Johansson took the silver. In 1969 the venue was England, again, at Grafham Water, an artificial reservoir which gave a tideless course. Alan Emus won his third gold by a narrow margin with Gunnar Aggefors of Sweden taking the silver.
The Championship was now to be held every three years instead of four and in 1972 it was held for the first time in Sweden at Oxelosund on the East coast. This time the Swedes Martin Rosell and Gunnar Aggefors took the gold and silver respectively. John Biddle of Britain won the bronze as he had in 1965 and 1969.
In 1975 the Championship returned to Hayling Island. In a week of light winds all the races were held in Hayling Bay. The Swedes swept the board, taking all three medals with Lars-Erik Lungdrun in the lead, followed by Leif Johansson and Mats Lind.
1978 the location was Fiskeboda, on a lake in the South of Sweden. By this time Steve Clark (USA) was challenging Swedish dominance; splitting Martin Gullberg who took the gold and Lars-Erik Lundgreen in the bronze position.
In 1981 the Championship was held for the first time outside Europe, at Marion, Massachusetts, USA, the championship course being laid inBuzzards Bay. This gave fine sailing in fresh winds. Max Tollqvist of Sweden took the gold while his compatriot Olle Bergqvist was equal second with Steve Clark.
By 1984 it was time for the Americans to make a clean sweep. The venue was Sweden, again at Angelholm on the Baltic coast south of Gothenberg. Stave Clark gained the gold, his sister Hannah Moore the bronze and Chris Converse the silver. In this competition women sail on equal terms with men and this is the first (and so far the only) occasion on which a woman achieved a medal position in a World Championship.
1987 was the turn of Plymouth, England to host the Championship. For the first time there were competitors from Australia and New Zealand. The weather was calm enough for all but one race to be sailed outside Plymouth Sound in the more open waters of the Channel. A new name, Robin Wood from Wales, collected the gold for Britain ahead of Lars Guck, another newcomer to the fleet from California in the silver position for USA. Patrick Marshal who regularly sails at Hayling Island took the bronze.
1990 saw the Championship sailed in West Germany in the midst of reunification on Steinhudermeer, a lake near Hanover, Lower Saxony. Light winds prevailed throughout the week. This time Lars Guck came through to win gold, Steve Clark took the silver and Jens Reichert collected the bronze (the first time for a German competitor ).
Richmond, California, on San Francisco Say in 1993 saw the most demanding conditions yet. The cold current flowing along the California coast and the hot desert behind ensure fresh sea breezes once the sun gets up, while the Pacific rollers coming through the Golden Gate give short seas once they meet the shallow water of the harbour. This became a Championship of Champions as three former Champions sought supremacy. The issue was in doubt until the last race. Robin Wood secured the gold while Steve Clark and Lars Guck tied for the silver.
The 1996 World Championship was held in Port Stephens, NSW Australia, in September. The week's weather was quite atypical. After a fine breeze for the invitation race, the next day saw a 30-knot westerly. On Subsequent days westerly gales blew, twice scattering the fleet. Luckily for Welshman Robin Wood, the ultimate winner, six heats were run allowing him to drop a disastrous DNF and claim the trophy. The three best Australians placed 5th, 12th, & 20th.
1999 saw the event sailed at Nynashämn, Sweden. The winds were light and the winner, U.K. Sailor, Lester Noble, with five 1sts and a 3rd, was able to sit out the last race. Australian entrants came 8th, 11th, & 23rd.
In 2002 the venue was Bristol RI, USA. The sailing was superbly organised by local resident Steve Clark. Steve also sailed the second oldest boat in the fleet to win from Swedish/American Anders Petersson in second with US Westcoaster Erich Chase third.
Weymouth, England was the venue in 2005. The light airs event was dominated by the British with Mark Goodchild taking the gold medal, John Ellis the silver and Simon Allen the bronze. The best Australian entrant was 6th.
The 2008 event was held at Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia. It featured strong sea breezes and medals for Australia, with Australians Hayden Virtue winning the gold medal and Seth Dunbar the bronze. Bill Beaver from the US took the silver. In addition the Australian team won the New York Canoe Club Challenge Trophy for the first time, the second oldest International sailing trophy after the America's Cup.
Travemunde in Germany was the 2011 venue. The series featured two windy and three light days. The gold medal went to Chris Maas from the US, the silver to German Peter Ullman, and the bronze to Alistair Warren from the UK.