Lee Valley White Water Centre - Olympic Course assessment - 11 June 2011

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Hmm, possibly a play boat was not the best choice for my first run of the Olympic course whilst being assessed..

Anyway I survived and even passed, but not with the style I was hoping for.

Here's what the assessment consisted of (you can chose if you want to do the Olympic part of the assessment if you pass the legacy part):

  • Flat water - paddle in a circle through 3 gates
  • Flat water roll
  • Blast down the legacy course
  • Catch 5 eddies on the legacy course as marked out by gates. (I found the gates were not placed in the best positions for catching the eddies. After the test the instructor pointed out that gates were not in the ideal positions and just making the eddies was good enough.)
  • Run the legacy course again and catch eddies.
  • Carry boats to halfway down Olympic course just before big drop. (Getting in was quite interesting due to the rafts.)
  • Run the bottom half of the Olympic course (Make two eddies before the drop and two after the drop.)
  • Run the whole Olympic course eddie hopping.

The assessment should have lasted 1 hour however we started the briefing at 10:50am and finished at 12:30pm, there were five of us and we didn’t really hang around although it may be unusual for the whole group to do the Olympic course part of the assessment.

The group was made up of me (a novice play boater), another play boater (nicely seasoned in the alps), two guys in Pyranha Burns and a slalom boater

We were the first official assessment and there were only another couple of kayakers on the course so after we all passed we asked if we could stay on for another hour, which for £10 a head they said yes.

We had a quick play on the legacy course that felt so flat and dull after the Olympic course and then headed back to the Olympic course.

Running the Olympic course again felt so much better than my first run, features were beginning to feel familiar and pushy eddies felt quite calm, in fact I was even able to take a phone call halfway down the course.

The Olympic course is not for the faint hearted, watching a burn catch two ends ahead of me when first running the course was a little off putting.

We ran the Olympic course about 6 times in total both blasting down and eddie hopping/ surfing waves. It was all great fun. When blasting down, the drops seem bigger and the stoppers are huge. When playing on the features they seem to diminish in size and there are plenty of eddies. The rafts made paddling interesting, but generally gave us an opportunity to rest up in an eddie whilst they passed. At 1pm it was raft change over so no rafts at all. Only one of our group swam (he was held in a stopper and couldn’t roll up), he was quickly fished out by raft safety and we guided the boat down to the bottom to be emptied ready for another run. (The swim was after our assessment, however we were told a swim is not necessarily a fail.)

All in all a great experience and I’ll be back there soon now I’ve passed. The course is open for the following 1 hour slots: Thursday and Friday evenings 5pm to 7pm Saturday and Sunday 11am to 3pm