Beginner’s course 2010

The club will be organising a beginner’s course for adults in May and June 2010. The course will consist of four 2-hour sessions on Bristol docks, on Thursday evenings from 6pm. This will cost £55.

This course is expected to begin on Thursday 13th May. If you are interested, please email our enquires address; see our contact page.

Please note: This course is now full. Apologies to anyone who has missed out. We have no plans to run another course soon.

Flatwater training

We have a keen set of paddlers who train twice a week throughout the year on Bristol docks, from approximately 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We also compete in various marathon and/or sprint races.

The club organises a sprint event on Bristol docks in September – the Bristol 10K. See: This will be held on Sat 18th Sep 2010. [ Unfortunately, the 2010 race has now been postponed. More info here. Ed. ]


We have two active polo teams, who compete in the regional divisions.

The Pitbulls are currently in division 3 (South), but look like they might get demoted this year to division 4.

The Pussycats is a development squad to help bring others into the sport. At the moment they are competing within division 4.

River rating (chase boating)

Given the amount of chase boating in France [ 2008 ], I thought this deserved a re-write; (courtesy of JK)

Class I, Easy. Fast moving  water with riffles and small waves. Boat chasing is easy and fun. Boat  immediately rescued and emptied on bank. People chat about how refreshing the  water is.

Class II, Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without  scouting. Boat chasing relatively simple, a few eddies are missed and some rocks  hit, but boat is quickly on the bank. People joke about rescue beers, and that sadly Lou hasn’t lost her sunglasses.

Class III, Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid. Several  people set off after boat. Eventually there’s just you chasing the boat. You  wonder why those big eddies at the start of the river are nowhere to be found  now. Afterwards people talk with wide eyes about how the river isn’t usually this high and seek refuge in bar whilst shuttle takes place. Zoe wishes she’d  brought her racing bike.

Class IV, Advanced. Intense,  powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise moves in turbulent water.  Chase boating becomes of paramount importance when swimmer reveals car keys are  in boat. Throwline and other kit decide to abandon ship and make their own way  down the river. Boat eventually extracts itself at bottom of large cliff. Afterwards, people wonder where Brian is and what that tiny speck is at the top  of the cliff.

Class V, Expert. Very precise  lines required. Boat automatically takes the hardest line. Chase boaters  quickly become chase swimmers. Everybody is silent afterwards until eventually someone suggests mountain biking may be a good option tomorrow.

Class VI, World Class. Sunshine run anyone?

New International System for Rating Rapids

New International System for Rating Rapids (Found somewhere on the web)

Someone asked an anonymous boater about his class IV comfort level and he answered something along the lines of “I’m comfortable that I can usually find an eddy to swim to.” Thus, the interviewer was inspired to offer this:

Class I, Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Swimming is pleasant, shore easily reached. A nice break from paddling. Almost all gear and equipment is recovered. Boat is just slightly scratched.

Class II, Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Swimming to eddies requires moderate effort. Climbing out of river may involve slippery rocks and shrub-induced lacerations. Paddle travels great distance downstream requiring lengthy walk. Something unimportant is missing. Boat hits submerged rock leaving visible dent on frame or new gash in plastic.

Class III, Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid. Water is swallowed. Legs are ground repeatedly against sharp, pointy rocks. Several eddies are missed while swimming. Difficult decision to stay with boat results in moment of terror when swimmer realizes they are downstream of boat. Paddle is recirculated in small hole way upstream. All personal possessions are removed from boat and floated in different directions. Paddling partners run along river bank shouting helpful instructions. Boat is munched against large boulder hard enough to leave series of deep gouges. Sunglasses fall off.

Class IV, Advanced. Water is generally lots colder than Class III. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise swimming in turbulent water. Swimming may require ‘must’ moves above dangerous hazards. Must moves are downgraded to ‘strongly recommended’ after they are missed. Sensation of disbelief experienced while about to swim large drops. Frantic swimming towards shore is alternated with frantic swimming away from shore to avoid strainers. Rocks are clung to with death grip. Paddle is completely forgotten. One shoe is removed. Hydraulic pressure permanently removes waterproof box with all the really important stuff. Paddle partners running along stream look genuinely concerned while lofting throw ropes 20 feet behind swimmer. Paddle partners stare slackjawed and point in amazement at boat which is finally pinned by major feature. Climbing up river bank involves inverted tree. One of those spring loaded pins that attaches watch to wristband is missing. Contact lenses are moved to rear of eyeballs.

Class V, Expert. The water in this rapid is usually under 42 degrees F. Most gear is destroyed on rocks within minutes if not seconds. If the boat survives, it is need of about three days of repair. There is no swimming, only frantic movements to keep from becoming one with the rocks and to get a breath from time to time. Terror and panic set in as you realize your paddle partners don’t have a chance in heck of reaching you. You come to a true understanding of the terms maytagging and pinballing. That hole that looked like nothing when scouted, has a hydraulic that holds you under the water until your lungs are close to bursting. You come out only to realize you still have 75% of the rapid left to swim. Swim to the eddy? What #%^&*#* eddy!? This rapid usually lasts a mile or more. Hydraulic pressure within the first few seconds removes everything that can come off your body. This includes gloves, shoes, neoprene socks, sunglasses, hats, and clothing. The rocks take care of your fingers, toes, and ears. That £900.00 dry suit, well it might hold up to the rocks. Your paddles trash. If there is a strainer, well, just hope it is old and rotten so it breaks. Paddle partners on shore are frantically trying to run and keep up with you. Their horror is reflected in their faces as they stare at how you are being tossed around! They are hoping to remember how to do CPR. They also really hope the cooler with the beer is still intact. They are going to need a cold one by the time you get out! Climbing out of this happens after the rapid is over. You will probably need the help of a backboard, cervical collar and Z-rig. Even though you have broken bones, lacerations, puncture wounds, missing digits & ears, and a concussion, you won’t feel much pain because you will have severe hypothermia. Enjoy your stay in the hospital: with the time you take recovering, you won’t get another vacation for 3 years.

Class VI, World Class. Not recommended for swimming.