The International descent of the River Sella is an annual canoeing event that takes place around the first weekend in August. It’s one of the largest canoeing races of its kind in the world attracting participants from all over the globe to take part (over a thousand!!).
The race starts in the town of Arriondas which is nestled at the foot hills of the Picos del Europa and makes its way along a 20km stretch of the river Sella finishing at the seaside resort of Ribadesella.
The race is the center point of a four day festival that offers concerts and plenty of activities to do which attracts many visitors to the area, most of whom are just there to party and party they do!! Like at most big festivals inAsturias, the revelers tend to be easy going and out to have a good time. Despite the sheer numbers of people in attendance, the festival is good for families and all age groups.
The event of the Descent of the River Sella will be hold the first weekend of august. At the same time Asturias celebrates the International Week of Canoeing celebrating different canoeing events all over the region.
The International descent of the River Sella started back in 1929 when Dionisio dela Huerta made the recreational trip down the river with a few friends. Since then, the race has grown in popularity and is now recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage tourism event. The organizers have worked hard to develop the event and have made many changes including opening the race to disabled participants. They are also making use of social media to keep people informed about timings, winners and advice.
Asturias has had several very well-known canoeists such as Herminio Menendez who won 3 medals in the Olympics (1976 and 1980), Manuel Busto, who has won 8 World Titles in several specialties or the K-2 couple formed by Walter Bouzan Sanchez and Alvaro Fernandez Fiuza who are the winners of the International Descent of the River Sella for the last trhee years, including this one.
To the onlooker, the race has a wacky races feel about it. 1000 plus kayakers running to their boats in the hope to get a good starting push off amidst a cacophony of paddles smacking off each other and the roar of the crowd. Many take part to win but quite a few just do it for fun and no matter what position you come in, the general consensus is always the same…. “That was one crazy race!”
If you are a keen kayaker then you have to do this race at least once in your life… you won’t regret it.
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