Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lee Valley

Blue water, blue skies, warm weather and great white water in London ??? Yes it is true!

I have just had the pleasure of paddling on the new Olympic white water course at the Lee Valley in London. I had heard great things about the new course... fast, power full, challenging, fun ... and was super excited to try it and see if it was as good as it had been made out. My verdict after 1 day paddling there is yes! The new course is brilliant.

World Champion Kayakers James 'Pringle' Bebbington and Claire O'Hara visit the new Olympic Whitewater course in London

The Lea Valley venue has been built to provide quality white water experiences for paddlers and rafters of all ages, ability levels and experiences. The new site has everything from lovely flat water lakes to intermediate white water and world class white water courses. Situated on the outskirts of London the course has been really well designed to give it a friendly and rural feel.

There are two white water courses at the site; the legacy course a grade 2 intermediate white water course and the Olympic course a grade 3+/4 fast, steep and powerful white water course, each designed with a conveyor belt to take you back up to the top after each run. The water is chlorinated as it as an in dependant water supply that is re circulated through the course making the water a crystal blue colour and the whole course seem almost surreal like it is a theme park ride venue rather than the typical white water training venues we are used too.

Young Kate testing out the legacy course

When people told me that the new Olympic course was a challenging, super fast and super steep course I didn’t really believe them as it is a man made pumped course but there were so true!

The designers have done a great job in creating a venue that provides a lot of technical and challenging features suitable for all different types of paddle sport in a really short space.

I was lucky to be there to support the youth freestyle series and got to see alot of young paddlers really exploring, enjoying and testing the two new courses.

Check out this great video from the day filmed and edited by James 'Pringle' Bebbington and Bren Orton

The legacy course is already great for freestyle with 3 nice play boating features, 1 super friendly beginners spot at the bottom of the course and 2 more technically challenging holes which will test the more experienced freestylers skills.

The Olympics course is currently set up for slalom as the Olympics are not far away but even so already has some very good features with a sweet hole under the bridge at the top of the course and a fantastic wave just below the big drop. As a course that has not specifically been set up for freestyle it is good but what is super exciting is its potential. There is enough power and energy in the course to make something really good (after the Olympics) for freestyle and I look forward to training on it again and hopefully competing there too soon.

Thank you to Matt Chadder and the team at Lee Valley for inviting me down and to the Youth Freestyle kids for making it such a fun day.