Commercial Road Weir
Commercial Road Weir is a lot easier to paddle since the extension of the chute in 2009, which effectively decreased its gradient. The rapid still however commands respect and has to be tackled confidently. It has a few tricks to it, particularly in high water. There are also the added elements of early race nerves, spectator hype and boat congestion thrown into the mix that make it more challenging.
The first trick is to find the chute from the top, as it cannot be easily seen until it is time to commit. Turning at the last minute could well result in you going unceremoniously over the high-side. In the bigger races there is usually a marshal directing you onto the line.
The Approach is from the right bank, under the bridge, as this helps you line up parallel to the chute. Your line down the chute is not critical, but ideally you want to enter the chute one third from the right aiming for the deeper water of the rooster tail below. Go cautiously down the drop but be prepared to accelerate once through the small wave below. This will enable you to steer through the fast water below and keep your line through the rapid.
The rapid below the weir has a clear wide channel from the base of the chute exiting on river left. The way you attempt the rapid section will depend on the river level.
It is easy to shoot it in low water and you can bump and scrape down almost anywhere, but aim for the right of the channel where there is a deep gully adjacent the “gatepost” rock on the right. This sets you up for a clean line down the steeper section of the rapid, even in low water.
It gets even easier at a medium level as more of the rocks are covered and the optimum line is not as tight. Use the same line as in low water but compensate for more water flowing across the channel pushing you from left to right. The “gatepost” rock will be covered and will form a small pour-over which you want to avoid going over or into. Therefore steer well left to compensate for the side wash. The photo sequence of Commercial Road is at a medium level.
At high levels the rapid below the weir takes on a new character. The increased volume of water coming over the left of the weir flows across the main channel, pushing your boat quickly towards the clump grass and rocky channels on the right. In order to keep in the main channel you will have to steer hard left to avoid the no-go area on the right. On exiting the chute paddle hard to maintain effective steering and head left down the main channel. The line is not critical as long as you avoid being washed into the channels, grass and rocks on the entire right hand side of the rapid.
There are easy, fast portages on both the left and right banks. Take out anywhere between the bridge and the weir and put in at the pool below the rapid. If you choose the left bank it is easier to climb to the top of the bank where there is a path rather than follow the water’s edge.
Commercial Road Weir Videos
These are "cockpit-views" through Commercial Road Weir on the correct line: