Issued on Behalf of British Waterways
The new £4.6m whitewater course at the Tees Barrage is to get the same cutting edge obstacle system as the Lee Valley Olympic course which will greatly boost its appeal for international competitions, pre-games training camps and to test local canoeists' skills.
A series of 'RapidBlocs' will now be used at the Stockton On Tees course to precisely shape flows of water into a series of waves and eddies making it challenging for the elite paddlers in particular.
Over £100k has been invested in the blocks. Steve Garcia, project manager, British Waterways which owns the course and is leading its redevelopment said: "We worked with our partners to find a way of procuring and utilising the RapidBlocs method of directing the water so that both our local paddlers and international athletes can have first class challenging features and rapids on both the short and long course. This way of contouring water will give us much greater flexibility to create a dynamic whitewater course which will be one of the best in the country."
Councillor Ken Lupton, leader, Stockton Council said: "We anticipate our course, with this system, being very popular with teams competing in the 2012 Olympics as they can have a good number of practice runs where they experience water flow and movement similar to the games. The decision by all the course funding partners to invest in this obstacle system is great news for the Tees."
The Tees Barrage whitewater course was used to develop the RapidBloc system in 2008/09 and over a three month period over 4,500 canoe and kayak plus 500 raft runs tested the new section of rapids. This testing will have contributed in the decision to use the system on the official 2012 Olympic course.
The system is manufactured and installed by Palm Equipment International using rotomoulded polyethylene in the same way a modern plastic whitewater kayak would be created.
Completion of the whole regenerated whitewater facility is expected to be winter 2010.