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Basel’s Rhine: different from what the rowers remembered

At the 9th Basel Head the participating rowers found a slightly different Rhine than previously.

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The turn just below the hydro-electric power stations make Basel Head so special


By Martin Pütter

A rarity, that is what the rowers encountered at this year’s Basel Head. Part of the 6.4 km long course is currently a construction site. The last time a sport event took place on a construction site was probably in 1976, the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Since early September, the building authority of Basel had both massive rocks as breakwaters and tons of gravel placed on the right bank of the Rhine (i.e. the Kleinbasel side), between Wettstein bridge and the Tinguely Museum. It is supposed to be an enhancement of this stretch of the river, both for the people of Basel and for creatures big and small, above and below water.

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These boats managed to avoid the shallows, marked with red buoys, at the Tinguely Museum

The rowers probably regarded this more as an obstacle than an enhancement. Some of the boat struggled with it, with the coxes seated astern (a condition for all participating boats) seeing newly formed shallows parts, especially at the Tinguely Museum, too late to correct their course. Other boats chose to stay away from the banks, even if it meant they faced a stronger current than close to the bank. One thing is certain: next year the bank will look differently, as the construction work is ongoing.

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Massive boulders and tons of gravel between Wettstein bridge and Tiguely Museum forced the rowers to be careful choosing their course.

For more information about this unique race please click on this link: https://baselhead.org/en/

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Energy generated and energy applied.

bh2018_08Rowing under the concrete jungle of the motorway bridge. (All pictures © 2018  Copyright Martin Pütter)

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