Woods took the women's C1 title while British team-mate Mallory Franklin claimed bronze behind world junior champion, Australia's Jessica Fox.
Last year 17-year old Woods finished fourth in Cardiff and she credited a new boat with her podium performance.
"Having gone off first it was really nerve wracking having to sit watching the TV screen and seeing everyone else go down," she said.
"I knew I managed to put a really solid run down but I was shaking because I had never been in this situation before.
"It was really close but I managed to just scrape it. I was just speechless and I'm over the moon to win my first senior individual medal.
"The difference is I have a new boat which I fit into a lot better than my old one. And because I'm a lot stronger now I'm chucking the boat around more and I'm a lot more confident."
Double Olympic silver medallist David Florence failed to retain his men's C1 title, finishing fifth after a lengthy delay due to rising water levels affected his preparations at the top of the course.
"I had a great start but it was just one gate in the middle that I lost it on," he said.
"On gate 14 in the middle I came in tight and the wind blew it upstream and I had to wait, I got held up a bit in the stopper above it and that I think was where I lost most of my time on it, the rest was pretty there or thereabouts.
"But I was pretty happy with the way I paddled the rest of the course."
Elsewhere, new European champion Fiona Pennie failed to make the women's K1 final, although British team-mates Lizzie Neave and Bethan Latham progressed.
British Olympic champions Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott will be among the favourites in Sunday's C2 final along with the other two home crews, David Florence and Richard Hounslow and Adam Burgess and Greg Pitt.
- Sports & Recreation