Last Saturday I went to Chertsey and spent the day there. I’m going to go over what I thought of the feature, give a few tips as well as explain the typical things like how to get there, safety and whether I think it’s really worth travelling to in order to train…

Chertsey will be in over the summer when Hurley is on 0 or 1 gates and over the winter when Hurley is on a high 4 gates. The feature is a combination between a pourover on surfer’s right and a rather steep hole on surfer’s left, if you want to do any moves other that beater you have to throw in the pocket on surfer’s left. There is no danger of bottoming out but the pourover side still doesn’t give you any pop and it actively kills your momentum when you land and then precedes to suck you back in (I’m sure many of you saw me beatering on Instagram). It’s worth bearing in mind that the water downstream for about 3m is highly aerated which makes it suprisingly difficult to roll up immediately, especially if – like me – you’ve only been practising on flatwater for the past 3 months. While it’s not immediately obvious the feature is actually diagonal (not by very much though), the pourover side extends downstream a bit further that the pocket which means the feature actually pushes you towards the pourover effectively ruling out right-side tricks. Left side tricks go, but they’re a struggle to pull off well. You can easily exit the feature or flat spin off the surfer’s left shoulder. I didn’t particularly like Chertsey but I found a day of being forced to do offside tricks dramatically improved my flatwater performance on Monday so maybe the difficulty of the feature is a benefit – I’ll let you decide.

The journey to Chertsey was actually quite painless. If travelling from London like us then you follow the M4, join the M25 and then exit at junction 11. Follow the signs to Chertsey and you should get there in around an hour which isn’t too bad. There is a small car park (free) to the right of the bridge, it’s quite small and we almost missed out on a spot so you might have to hunt for other parking somewhere in Chertsey itself. You can either put in below the bridge next to the car park and paddle upstream to the weir or you can walk along the road, cross the lock and put in at the steps down to the river. The island on the other side of the lock is an ideal place to leave your change of clothes, towels and lunch. The weir complex is shallow and with adequate care you can easily walk along it from the lock to get just above the feature and take photos etc (like my Dad pictured below).

Safety-wise, Chertsey is great. There are 2 huge eddies on either side of the feature (depending on flow) as you can see above. While surfer’s right is a pourover you will eventually flush if you beater hard enough and if you swim there’s no danger of recirculation. I understand at different levels a small wave may form to the side of the feature but it wasn’t surfable while I was there. There are some moored boats about 100m downstream of the feature which might hypothetically be a danger to inexperienced swimmers, just remind beginners to swim to the eddy and be aware of the danger in a case of emergency.

I’m glad I went on Saturday as it’s my first time on whitewater in 3 months, however if Lee Valley was open I wouldn’t even consider going to Chertsey. The feature is good if you want to mess around or if you have absolutely no other options over the summer but it certainly does not count as a competitive feature (at least during summer levels) that you could actually use to train. I may go back to Chertsey if Lee Valley doesn’t open soon but I think that flatwater is equally beneficial from a training perspective. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an introduction to whitewater freestyle and want somewhere thats both fun and safe to go as a group then Chertsey is ideal.

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