MRO Magazine

Huge industrial pumps create white-water for 2000 Sydney Olympics

Six Flygt Model PL710/865 large-propeller pumps, each capable of moving 2.8 cu m of water per second, will power Sydney's white water slalom canoeing and kayaking course.   


June 1, 2000
By MRO Magazine

Six Flygt Model PL710/865 large-propeller pumps, each capable of moving 2.8 cu m of water per second, will power Sydney’s white water slalom canoeing and kayaking course.   

An exclusive Online Feature from the editors of   

© 2000 Machinery & Equipment MRO (600 words) 

Sydney’s flat landscape is not going to deprive Olympics canoeists of their white-water events: an artificial course fed by high-volume pumps will ensure ideal conditions for their competitions.


It might be thought that hosting the Olympic white water slalom canoeing and kayaking events would be difficult for Sydney, Australia, a city without hills, rivers or virtually any “white water” at all. Yet when the 2000 Olympics roll around, Sydney will host the event against the breathtaking backdrop of a state-of-the-art artificial white water course in Penrith White Water Stadium, a feat brought about largely due to the world-class expertise of Gilles Bernard, one of the leading builders of faux rivers and a three-time slalom world champion himself.

Bernard, an engineer at EDF-SIRA, part of the French national electricity board that controls over 70% of the country’s surface water, is credited with designing a cost-effective way for Sydney to build the artificial water work — an undertaking once thought to be prohibitively expensive for the host city.

To make the project more feasible for Sydney, Bernard drew on his formidable experience and reviewed mathematical and physical models from ITT Flygt, which was providing the high volume pumps for the project and had done a similar installation for the 1992 Olympic venue in Barcelona. At the end of the day, Bernard had found ways to reduce the project budget by more than half.

No doubt, ITT Flygt’s firsthand experience in creating the venue for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic white water events in the Spanish town of Le Seu dí Urgell proved valuable to the process and made Flygt the front-runner for the high-profile project from the start. The similarities between the two jobs were striking: The U-shaped Sydney course is 300-m long, ranges in width from 8 to 14 m, and takes racers through terrain that drops some 7 meters in elevation. Le Seu dí Urgellís horse-shoe shaped main course, at the International Canoeing and Kayaking Center, moved competitors over a 340-m-long route and a descent of 6.5 m. Intermittent obstacles, rough passages, and varying water levels simulate a river’s natural ebb and flow at both Olympic venues.

Six Flygt Model PL710/865 large-propeller pumps, each capable of moving 2.8 cu m of water per second, will power the Sydney course, potentially delivering as much as 16 cu m of water per second from the finish line to the “head pond” where the course begins. As in Barcelona, the pumps are housed in a pump station out of sight and out of earshot of the competition, so as not to contrast with the beauty and serenity of the river environment.

The stadium is designed to accommodate 5,000 spectators on its grassy river banks and, with the help of temporary grandstands, will have the capacity for an additional 10,000 people during the 2000 Olympics.

And, as was the case in Spain, Sydney’s landmark addition is expected to draw world-class competitors and recreational athletes long after the Olympic medals are awarded. After the games, it will be turned into a major sport and recreational facility for Western Sydney.

This report was prepared for Online Features by Minett Media. Placed online June 1, 2000. © and Machinery & Equipment MRO magazine, Toronto, Canada. Not reproducible in any form without written permission of the publisher. Contact: