Artificial courses

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Mark Dixon
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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Mark Dixon » Fri Mar 04, 2016 7:13 am

I've never paddled a WW course other than Treweryn but think they are a good thing, I simply would not paddle if I didnt live 20 mins from Dartmoor though. I occasionally paddle with Lee Valley goers who live in the South East and they have skills but lack river reading and have struggled in rescuing boats etc, you learn those skills from continuous real river situations, but living 200 miles away its difficult to gain experience.
I do know a few boaters that live in the Nottingham area and they seem to be terrific boaters so HPP must be a good gym.
As for lack of people on the Dee, lets be honest, its a bit tame considering what else is availabke locally and modern boats are opening up different avenues.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Mike A » Fri Mar 04, 2016 7:54 am

Places like Lee valley cater for areas where there is no ww. But instead of building more of them, how about we move the job opportunities into areas where there is more/closer ww?

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by jmmoxon » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:41 am

I wouldn't worry, there are more people paddling other river sections than there were 20 years ago, because of more info available on access points, river levels & expected rainfall. Back then, if they weren't sure, everyone would head to the Dee...

& white water courses have to be built near centres of population to make then viable.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Chalky723 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:55 am

Mike A wrote:Places like Lee valley cater for areas where there is no ww. But instead of building more of them, how about we move the job opportunities into areas where there is more/closer ww?
I love paddling & walking in Wales, Dartmoor etc. - no desire to live there though!!

I like phone signal, broadband speeds in the hundreds, not having to drive more than 2 minutes to a superstore and a million other things about where I live now thanks!

Quite happy to visit & contribute - by which I mean buying supplies & booze from the shops in Bala etc. rather than bringing them with me and using bunkhouses, campsites etc...

Plus, there are enough problems with local people being priced out of their own areas without busloads more telecommuters moving in & paying over the odds for housing....

C
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SimonMW
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Re: Artificial courses

Post by SimonMW » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:08 am

Frankly I love the artificial courses. Would I prefer a real river? Of course yes. But if it wasn't for CIWW I would have barely got any paddling in this winter due to the water levels going completely nuts most of the time, or rising at the wrong time, stopping me from going on rivers such as the Tawe which I love.

The artificial courses low reliable paddling and play boating, all year round. It's great to go to one on a hot summers day and then chill out with cake and a drink in a cafe during breaks! My only gripe with them is that nobody seems to make any effort whatsoever when building them to make them like, well, natural rivers. I'm sure theres a better looking solution than just concrete. If someone had some real clout, maybe places like Symonds Yat could finally have some real features on it.

I don't like the power usage the concrete courses take up, making them costly to run and not exactly eco friendly. Up and down the UK we have plenty of dangerous weirs, quite often creating a good heigh difference, that could be converted to small white water systems using the natural flow of the river. We should be exploring more natural solutions similar to HPP (maybe have water filters that the water passes through at the top of the course!) but with more greenery and trees. Trouble is finding good places near population hubs so that more people can be introduced to the activity and easier access to white water for those who don't live in Wales or Scotland.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by SimonMW » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:19 am

In addition, being able to use a play boat on waves that are guaranteed to be there has helped my skills a lot. The artificial courses aren't just a gym, they are really good learning environments. A gym implies mindless repetitively. WW courses aren't like that at all. And I certainly don't find the atmosphere at CIWW soulless. You'll get more practicing at rolling in anger at an artificial course in one day than you'll get on most rivers in months. Plus theres a social aspect where you can chat to anyone. Most rivers are confined to the group, so they are good for meeting new paddle buddies.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Slime » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:55 am

morsey wrote:Yep it's like going to the gym.
I am not sure this is right -you surely don't get trashed when you go down the gym?
To quote another respondent -
I Stopped going to CIWW. (within the group)
Trip 1, broken paddle
Trip 2, broken tooth
Trip 3, scrapped knuckles against the concrete


Perhaps gym users are posers - paddlers (on rivers or ww course) are real people?

"Paddlers are real people" - there's a tee shirt for you. Bit like the great TV adverts - "This girl can"

Great discussion thread Dave!

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by buck197 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:09 am

Chalky 723 wrote:
I love paddling & walking in Wales, Dartmoor etc. - no desire to live there though!!

I like phone signal, broadband speeds in the hundreds, not having to drive more than 2 minutes to a superstore and a million other things about where I live now thanks!

Quite happy to visit & contribute - by which I mean buying supplies & booze from the shops in Bala etc. rather than bringing them with me and using bunkhouses, campsites etc...

Plus, there are enough problems with local people being priced out of their own areas without busloads more telecommuters moving in & paying over the odds for housing....

C
.


Cheeky blighter, I'll have you know we have lectric now in Devon and broadband speeds up to 150 MHz and we even have superstores. Come live in Plymouth where we have great WW only 30 minutes away and are emerging from the ice age with technology. We can boat in midweek when all you Northern monkeys are sat in traffic jams.

WW courses are great in areas where there is a large population and no WW within hours of each other. No mention of the boaters in London who play on the weirs. Great paddlers like Bren Orton need these consistent facilities to hone their skills and strength to enable them to compete but I guess he really loves to practise on natural features.
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Re: Artificial courses

Post by BobbyR » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:08 pm

Seven artificial courses! There isn't a single functioning whitewater course here in the Netherlands... and no natural whitewater either. Sounds like you have a luxury problem in the UK.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by SimonMW » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:22 pm

Has Dutch Water Dreams closed, Bobby?

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by BobbyR » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:41 pm

Closed a while ago now, before I really started paddling. I was told this is the 3rd time its gone bankrupt. They found the structure of the indoor surfing building is corroded and unsafe, no money to fix it and now looking for a buyer/investor.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Jim » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:52 pm

buck197 wrote:Cheeky blighter, I'll have you know we have lectric now in Devon and broadband speeds up to 150 MHz
Um, you don't measure braodband speed in MHz, you might be getting your download speed (usually Mbps) mixed up with your wifi / mobile broadband radio frequency?

By the way, we have all that in the central belt of Scotland too, I work next to a grade 1 to 2 river, in 10 minutes I can be on Loch Lomond, or the sea, and in 15 or 20 minutes I can be on a grade 4 (although I don't like the one in question and never paddle it anymore). In an hour and a quarter I can be in Glen Etive, no speed limits broken, traffic permitting.
It takes me between 35-60 minutes to get to the artificial course at Pinkston, but I can do that when its dark or the rivers are empty. There are probably another 4 or 5 grade 3 to 4 rivers within 35 minutes of home.

Plenty of job opportunties near WW, maybe Mike A has chosen the wrong career to be near WW though?

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Mike A » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:51 pm

Plenty of job opportunties near WW, maybe Mike A has chosen the wrong career to be near WW though?[/quote]

Nope, I am fine and within reasonable travelling distance of ww.

It just annoys me that the UK is so focused on the SE, and perhaps if the jobs were spread out better then the uk would be more equal.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Kayak-Bloke » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:24 pm

To a cyclist a rolling road might be compared to going to the gym but a ww course isn't like that. You're still in your boat on the water. It doesn't have the sense of adventure or the unknown but it's still dynamic and challenging. I suggest if you consider it no better than a trip to the gym then you lack imagination!
I hadn't been to CIWW for a while but spent all day there last Sat. Met up a great bunch and for sure we'd have all rather been on the river but we had a riot in the end; doing the course backwards, king of the wave and watching the carnage of the many folk that couldn't make it from to to bottom in their boats.
Which leads me on to skills. Yep it isn't the same unpredictably of the river but it isn't just a work out it's a place to home technique and perhaps try things that on a river may have unpleasant consequences.

When there's no water and that's all there is on then it's still a hell of a lot better than going to the gym or worse... Watching the telly!

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by DaveBland » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:33 pm

Chalky723 wrote:
Mike A wrote:Places like Lee valley cater for areas where there is no ww. But instead of building more of them, how about we move the job opportunities into areas where there is more/closer ww?
I love paddling & walking in Wales, Dartmoor etc. - no desire to live there though!!

I like phone signal, broadband speeds in the hundreds, not having to drive more than 2 minutes to a superstore and a million other things about where I live now thanks!

Quite happy to visit & contribute - by which I mean buying supplies & booze from the shops in Bala etc. rather than bringing them with me and using bunkhouses, campsites etc...

Plus, there are enough problems with local people being priced out of their own areas without busloads more telecommuters moving in & paying over the odds for housing....

C

Of course, if only there were nice cities with all the facilities, and easy close access to major mountains with pristine rivers in the summer and fluffy powder in the winter...
Then maybe the City could kindly convert a dangerous weir right in the middle of town into a whitewater play park – all for free, with free access.
Then the water company could work with local paddlers to alter the reservoir output and create a 'nearly-natural' slalom and play boating course, 40 mins from the city.
That would be nice. I'd live there.
dave

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by SimonMW » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:53 pm

Of course, if only there were nice cities with all the facilities, and easy close access to major mountains with pristine rivers in the summer and fluffy powder in the winter...
Then maybe the City could kindly convert a dangerous weir right in the middle of town into a whitewater play park – all for free, with free access.
Then the water company could work with local paddlers to alter the reservoir output and create a 'nearly-natural' slalom and play boating course, 40 mins from the city.
That would be nice. I'd live there.
I think it's called the Chattahoochee River river going through Columbus, and it's much closer than 40 mins away from it. :-)

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Franky » Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:13 pm

Mark Dixon wrote: I do know a few boaters that live in the Nottingham area and they seem to be terrific boaters so HPP must be a good gym.
I've never paddled HPP, but walked along it while visiting Desperate Measures last year. It looked more like a real river the the LV Legacy - less regular, and with a greater variety of features - wave trains, bends in the flow, irregular drops etc.

The Legacy is too regular - I wouldn't have thought it would be too difficult to mix it up a bit, but most of the drops are dead straight and exactly orthogonal to the flow. Perhaps it's designed particularly with playboaters in mind.

Wouldn't be without LV though. Paddling it regularly has removed a lot of the the basic apprehension about moving water that I used to have.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by DaveBland » Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:45 pm

SimonMW wrote:I think it's called the Chattahoochee River river going through Columbus, and it's much closer than 40 mins away from it. :-)
I was thinking of closer to home [for me].

As said in the thread above - there are so may places where a weir or reservoir release could be changed, creating a recreational paddling facility. If only the mindset and culture could be changed.
It is interesting to see the practical outcomes here, from a different attitude to access together with a culture of encouraging outdoor activity.

I do agree with Dave M on the point that building artificial courses is seen by the governing body as a solution to the access issues rather than facing up to the harder task of tackling the real issue which is acknowledged free and open access to all our rivers.
dave

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by buck197 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 6:18 pm

buck197 wrote:
Cheeky blighter, I'll have you know we have lectric now in Devon and broadband speeds up to 150 MHz


Um, you don't measure braodband speed in MHz, you might be getting your download speed (usually Mbps) mixed up with your wifi / mobile broadband radio frequency?

By the way, we have all that in the central belt of Scotland too, I work next to a grade 1 to 2 river, in 10 minutes I can be on Loch Lomond, or the sea, and in 15 or 20 minutes I can be on a grade 4 (although I don't like the one in question and never paddle it anymore). In an hour and a quarter I can be in Glen Etive, no speed limits broken, traffic permitting.
It takes me between 35-60 minutes to get to the artificial course at Pinkston, but I can do that when its dark or the rivers are empty. There are probably another 4 or 5 grade 3 to 4 rivers within 35 minutes of home.

Plenty of job opportunties near WW, maybe Mike A has chosen the wrong career to be near WW though?
Apologies you are absolutely correct it's 150 Mbps is what I meant and was a tongue firmly in cheek response to posters dig on my adopted county.
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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Jerry Tracey » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:56 am

Is it always the case that hydro-power schemes are a bad thing? As well as contributing to a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, they can potentially provide opportunities for dam-controlled white-water venues, such as the Tryweryn, Washburn or Isere. In my view they should not be automatically opposed, although the specific details of some schemes clearly mean that they should be strongly resisted.
Also, it can be argued that the classic Llangollen section of the Dee is itself at least partially artificial. Although it is now attractive and is reverting to nature, much of this stretch is in fact a legacy of the industrial use of water power during an earlier era.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Hakase » Mon Mar 07, 2016 7:42 pm

Franky wrote:
Mark Dixon wrote: I do know a few boaters that live in the Nottingham area and they seem to be terrific boaters so HPP must be a good gym.
I've never paddled HPP, but walked along it while visiting Desperate Measures last year. It looked more like a real river the the LV Legacy - less regular, and with a greater variety of features - wave trains, bends in the flow, irregular drops etc.

The Legacy is too regular - I wouldn't have thought it would be too difficult to mix it up a bit, but most of the drops are dead straight and exactly orthogonal to the flow. Perhaps it's designed particularly with playboaters in mind.

Wouldn't be without LV though. Paddling it regularly has removed a lot of the the basic apprehension about moving water that I used to have.
HPP's much nicer for playboating! Legacy's a very simple course, designed I think with mind to get people started in whitewater and otherwise probably mainly geared towards slalom boaters.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Jim » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:34 pm

Jerry Tracey wrote:Is it always the case that hydro-power schemes are a bad thing?
The green credentials are always more questionable than they are made out to be. Not sure if anyone ever really has the full picture to decide whether they are good or bad though. SCA certainly only oppose the ones that will affect known paddling rivers

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by DaveBland » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:53 pm

I heard that typically the carbon footprint of the concrete and construction, takes the lifetime of the hydro scheme to claw back before it starts saving.
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Re: Artificial courses

Post by mole » Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:07 pm

The carbon footprint will depend on the amount of work required to complete the project but a small hydro built alongside an existing drop in a river so little engineering to take place will pay back its CO2 in less time than almost any other form of generation except onshore wind. Adding small scale hydro to an existing weir is pretty environmentally friendly, especially if you add some fish passage facilities which is mandatory in the UK now.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Franky » Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:43 pm

Hakase wrote: HPP's much nicer for playboating! Legacy's a very simple course, designed I think with mind to get people started in whitewater
Not sure about that - I'd been on several grade 3 rivers before the Legacy, and found the Legacy considerably tougher to start with. It's easy enough to plummet straight down it, but it's as challenging as you want to make it. It offers good practice for making eddies, and crossing stoppers. There's no still water at all in the top half (the eddies are very turbulent), so it's good for learning to keep your balance and react to sudden changes in flow.

I used the word "learning" and no doubt the Legacy is of no interest to seasoned creek boaters... But I'm not sure I'd describe it as a beginners' course. For beginners the Nene is better - more forgiving of mistakes and a good place to learn the basic moves without the risk of capsizing.

The Legacy's also a good place to practise white water rolling - no nasties in the water, in the summer it's nice and warm, and there's always someone with a rope on hand. It may be a simple course, but the first time you capsize there, you know about it. If you can learn to keep calm in the Legacy after a capsize, you probably won't have any problems on a G3 river.
and otherwise probably mainly geared towards slalom boaters.
That occurred to me after I'd posted and you're probably right.

The Legacy could be better, but I still think it's a great facility. I've learned a lot from using it and am still learning - still haven't nailed crossing stoppers in the trough.

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Jim » Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:36 pm

It is really difficult to design and build an artificial course which behaves like a natural river would, for a lot of reasons.

You hit the nail on the head with this bit:
[quote=Franky]It's easy enough to plummet straight down it, but it's as challenging as you want to make it.[/quote]

I don't know Lee Valley, or Cardiff, even Teeside has changed beyond recognition since I was last there, and maybe HPP a bit too.... BUT; I am still impressed by the facility we have at Pinkston, for exactly the reason I quoted - it is easy to enough to run straight through, but the features and eddies are positioned such that you can really challenge yourself if you want to.

It is not very natural, the water is clear so the eddylines are hard to read for beginners, and some eddies have counter-eddies half way along, one has a standing wave in it at some levels which can affect your progress up it! The drops and holes are not that big, but big enough, and whilst most do run easily through the middle, boofing into the eddy instead is a challenge on some. Add gates and the challenges can really be multiplied. For a 200m artificial course to be suitable for GB squad paddlers to challenge themselves (or their coaches to challenge them), whilst at the same time being suitable for introducing near beginners to WW for the first time is to me an amazing achievement. I suspect the legacy is similar in that respect, although GB squad have the separate Olympic course to train on too?

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by EmilyH » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:52 pm

I always think it's a shame when people are negative about artificial courses. Not everyone likes them and that's fine but they are a godsend to those of us who have to drive 4/5 hours to the nearest river.

I'm going to Nepal next week for the second time. There's no way I'd have had the skills or the confidence to do this if it wasn't for Lee Valley. I live in London and, since Lee Valley was built, I usually manage to paddle on grade 4 whitewater (i.e. the olympic course) 1-3 days a week; this is much better than one weekend every 2 months (often on grade 2-3 due to lack of rain), which is all I managed when Devon & Wales were my nearest options.

Having developed skills, confidence and a massive paddling addiction at Lee Valley, I now visit Wales, Devon, Scotland & the Alps far more often than I did before Lee Valley came along!

Artificial courses do only develop personal paddling skills and aren't much help in terms of group/leadership/rescue skill development and this does have the potential to be dangerous if people aren't aware of what they don't know. But I know the limits of my competencies, I paddle with a sensible group & my skills in these areas are catching up.

People made similar comments in 2005 when the first indoor skydiving windtunnel was built in the UK ("but it's not real skydiving" and "it will kill business for dropzones"). Skydiving as a sport has changed significantly since and the average skill level of skydivers who train in windtunnels is now both astounding and inspiring. This just wasn't achievable when the only way to develop skills was to drive hours to a dropzone and pay for a plane ride every time we wanted to practice! (In fact I quit after 500 jumps, partly for this reason!).

Even if artificial whitewater courses are only a gym, I'd rather get fit on artificial whitewater between river trips than wait weeks/months until my next fix. My learning curve would have been a lot slower without Lee Valley and there's a danger we will lose people to the sport if progression feels too far out of reach for people miles away from rivers.

If you don't see me on the Dee, it's not because I'm not in Wales!

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by Dave Manby » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:53 am

DaveBland wrote:I heard that typically the carbon footprint of the concrete and construction, takes the lifetime of the hydro scheme to claw back before it starts saving.
But how much carbon dioxide would be generated using another method?

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Re: Artificial courses

Post by DaveBland » Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:15 pm

Dave Manby wrote:
DaveBland wrote:I heard that typically the carbon footprint of the concrete and construction, takes the lifetime of the hydro scheme to claw back before it starts saving.
But how much carbon dioxide would be generated using another method?
I don't bloody know... I live in Alberta. They strap you to the back of a pick-up and drag you round being chased by a bull for talking about things like that here.
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