Canoe Sprint organisers determined to go with the flow

Mingachevir, June 12, AZERTAC 

Preparations for the 1km Canoe Sprint competition, along a picturesque stretch of the Kur River, began 18 months ago. Controlling the water flow as it runs towards the Caspian Sea has been a challenge, however, one which organisers have met through an ingenious solution.

"You can increase and decrease the speed of water and even stop the flow by opening and closing the dam," said Natig Abbasov, the director of the Kur Sport and Rowing Centre in Mingachevir, which will host the three days of Baku 2015 events from 14 June.

To the untrained eye the Kur River not only appears to run from the reservoir behind the dam towards the Caspian Sea 300km to the east, but sometimes also in the opposite direction. Looks can be deceiving, though, as Abbasov explains.

"A river can never flow in two directions. This one flows from the reservoir to the Caspian Sea, but sometimes the wind creates waves in the opposite direction."

As well as the flow of water, race organisers also needed specialist help in clearing the abundant plant-life in the Kur, using what Abbasov describes as a "lawn mower for the river".

"We have been cutting the weeds for the last four weeks, along the full width of the river for 200 metres before the start line and 200 metres after the finish," says Namig Saniyev, a mechanic at the Kur Sport and Rowing Centre.

A specialist came from Sweden and spent three days training him on how to use the Swedish-built machine that cuts all plants, including thick rushes, in a 3m radius and down to a maximum depth of 1.4m.

"We can't stop cutting, especially when it's very hot. These plants grow fast and are impossible to stop, so we need to work every day. Only rain, nothing else, can stop the machine."

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