Originally built in 1996 on an island in the Danube, the Cunovo Water Sports Centre in Bratislava, Slovakia hosted its first World Cup kayak event in 1997 and its most recent in 2013. It was recently selected to host the 2021 World Championships and made the decision to redesign and rebuild the historic channel for the event. The Slovakian Federation tapped S2O Design and Engineering to lead a major renovation of the iconic dual-channel venue. S2O Design created a new channel configuration and incorporation the RapidBlocs™ Obstacle system to give Cunovo a better racing experience for top-level boaters and recreation-level users alike.
S2O Design’s work on the iconic venue included reconfiguring the channel layout and updating the obstacle structures. The unique parallel courses, which allow paddlers to change from one course to the other midway, had become outdated, and unfavorable conditions on the left channel made it largely unusable for recreational paddlers and not conducive for competitions.
S2O Design redesigned the channel to integrate their patented RapidBlocs™ system, highly customizable three-dimensional obstacles that form the course’s waves, holes, drops, and eddies. The flexibility of the new system allows the operators to customize the configuration with the desired amount, type, and shape of features for any level paddler. The new competition channel configuration included repositioning the starting gate, adding a spectator-friendly features in front of the grandstand, and reconfiguring the bottom features on the racecourse.
Teesside is a fascinating project. It is partially situated below sea level and is run entirely on green, tidal power. The design harnesses the Atlantic Ocean’s tidal flows in partnership with the Tees Barrage (dam) to generate energy through 4 fish friendly, 13m long, 3.5m diameter Archimedean screw pumps. The screw pumps are capable of generating recreational flow and or generating power (screw pumps run in reverse). When the tide is contrary, generators are run as pumps to operate the course. When the tide is favorable, there is ample flow to operate the course and generate power.
The Teeside project included improving the existing channel, completed by EPDUK, and adding an additional recreational channel designed to provide world class recreation. S2o was hired to design the new recreation channel. The s2o designed channel included a proprietary m-wave feature, a flow-through headgate and S2o’s “tourist trap” big drop feature. In addition to the innovative pumping and channel design features, the RapidBlocs™ movable obstacle system was also installed. The RapidBlocs™ system provides well formed, stable whitewater that can adapt and change to a variety of uses, long into the future. The park is one of a kind and has redefined whitewater parks for generations to come.
Charlotte, North Carolina
The National Whitewater Center is the largest and most profitable whitewater park of its kind in the world. The park surpasses all previous pumped whitewater parks in terms of efficiency, quality of whitewater, variety of uses and fun. It features four separate channel segments, including the world’s steepest slalom channel, the world’s highest-volume big water channel, and purpose-built areas for instruction, development, safety training, big-wave surfing, hole riding and more.
Special features include four separate, moveable, obstacle systems; natural rock structures; restaurant and patio areas overlooking the course; headgates allowing operating costs to be scaled to the day’s customer base; and specific design features tailored to maximize profitable rafting operations.
The park, which opened in 2006, was designed with the dual goals of creating a seamlessly integrated outdoor adventure center and a cost-effective, state-of-the-art whitewater facility.
The Holme-Pierrepont National Watersports Centre has a storied history. The channels were one of the first great whitewater slalom channels and home to the British Slalom Team for more than twenty years. The challenge associated with this project was taking an existing world-class facility and updating it to be a state-of-the-art racing channel, without decreasing any of the already attractive features within the channel.
The project was led on the S2o side by Scott Shipley, who won his first World Cup and World Championship medals at this venue. S2o used innovative applications of computer modeling to establish that the proposed improvements, laid out by EPDUK, would give the desired effect, while protecting the existing “muncher” section of the course. This method of computer modeling was cutting-edge and challenged by many but, in the end, led to a highly successful and cost effective re-design of the channels. The completed project played host to the European Championships in its first season and remains a mainstay of the United Kingdom’s whitewater programs.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Riversport Rapids Whitewater Center is the first pumped-park design in the world that offers a recreational channel, a competition channel and a combined-flow freestyle channel in the same whitewater venue. The Whitewater Center is ideally located at the crossroads of two arterial highways and strategically placed within the city; a short water taxi or river walk away from Bricktown and downtown OKC.
The Whitewater Center is part of the larger OKC Boathouse District Campus; encompassing a flatwater race and training channel on the Oklahoma River; a recreational boat house and multiple, local collegiate boat houses; a high performance training center; and an adventure center equipped with zip-lines, a climbing wall, and a dynamic-belay high ropes course. The boathouse district is also the headquarters for the USA Canoe and Kayak Federation and is designated as a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.
S2o, as project lead, worked with the City, stakeholders, and sub-contractors throughout the planning and design process to create a design that is unique to the Western United States. The Whitewater Center has the technology of a world class venue but also has the aesthetics and scale to blend into the existing Boathouse District Master Plan and the City of Oklahoma City. S2O Design lead the design, construction and construction oversight of The Whitewater Center.
Lee Valley Centre, the 2012 Olympic Venue, was cited by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) as the best use of design modeling, and the easiest course to tune to an Olympic Standard. S2O Design/EPDUK were commissioned to complete the design for this Olympic Venue on a rush basis. Within four months of receiving authority to proceed, our team reviewed all pertinent materials, recreated the entire drawing set, created both computer and physical models, and completed design documents for the most modern Whitewater Park in the world.
The S2o/EPDUK team continued to work with the Client to implement the design for construction, including construction oversight and project commissioning. The completed project was approved by the ICF, who cited the modeling and design as the most advanced and predictive ever used for a whitewater park.
The Lee Valley Whitewater Center has been a tremendous success with athletes, who reference its challenging, yet predictive, flows as ideal for competition. The athletes and coaches also applaud the RapidBloc moveable obstacle system, innovated by S2O Design and EPDUK for this course. The movable obstacle system is a tremendous step forward from previous systems, and is the future of whitewater slalom channels.