Hydrostadium's whitewater stadiums

A whitewater stadium is a facility that allows whitewater sports (canoeing, kayaking, whitewater swimming, rafting, tubing, hot-dog kayaking, etc.) to be practised in an organised and safe environment. This type of installation supports the development of open-air sports in an urban location. A huge attraction, whitewater stadiums bring the freshness of whitewater into the heart of a city.

Depending on the resources offered by the site, a whitewater stadium can be built in a number of ways. The location chosen to build the Athens whitewater stadium exemplifies this fact, albeit to an extreme. Located in the heart of Athens, on the site of the former international airport of Hellinikon, this whitewater stadium is fed by sea water that is pumped three kilometres upstream. Each site has a solution. However, these large-scale works are exceptional.

When building a whitewater stadium, three parameters must be taken into consideration :

  • First, the surface area of the site, which ranges from 6,000 m² (Tournon Saint Martin whitewater stadium) to 70,000 m² (Athens whitewater stadium) and depends on the project’s goals.
  • Secondly, the water supply, which is either naturally supplied by gravity, or stored when the tide rises, or provided by a pumping station that returns water from the finish to the start, or a combination of these solutions.
  • Thirdly, the slope, which must be between 0,5% and 2,5%. For a 300-metre whitewater stadium, the height difference should be around five metres.

All of these parameters can either be found on a given site without the need for any intervention or created artificially :

  • You have water and a slope: develop the existing river by altering the profile of the riverbed through rock removal or riprap.
  • You do not have any water but you have a slope: create a downstream pool and pump water up.
  • You have water and head: use the difference in height created by a dam and build a branch river which will spread the height difference.
  • You do not have any water and do not have a slope: create a small hill and a downstream pool and pump water up.
  • You have water but no slope: install a pumping station that will supply water to the top of your whitewater stadium.
  • You are on the coast: build a small dam in an estuary and store water when the tide rises.