Descent of the river Sella

Descent of the river Sella

So, here is what you expect to happen. You will take the canoe out to the lake and set it to row. And all will seem fine and dry. While you think so, let me remind you that Sella is a river and not a lake. If you are planning to participate in Descenso Internacional del Sella, then you need to learn the way to canoeing. While you think of getting your foot straight through the hull without any pause and enjoying a lazy day in the canoe, your competitors will take the lead.

The Descenso Internacional del Sella takes place on the first Saturday after day 2 of August along the Sella river. The test is conducted by the Spanish Federation of Canoeing. Also, it is delegated by the Committee of the Sella as well as the Federation of Canoeing of Asturias. This is declared as the Festival of International Tourist Interest.

If you are looking for a weekend adventurous sport, then this would definitely please you unless of course, you end up drowning yourself.  The Rio Sella remains the busiest as almost 15000 professional paddlers head to Ribadesella from Arriondas down the river.

Descenso Internacional del Sella festival sidsnet
Descenso Internacional del Sella festival sidsnet


The Descenso Internacional del Sella kick started in 1930. The 2010 event marked the 74rth edition of the canoeing competition. The history of this festival of canoes dates back to 1929 when Manes Fernandez, Dr. Benigno Moran and Dionisio de la Huerta set out on a journey to Pilona River from Coya to Infiesto by crossing five kilometres in two and half hours.

In the next two years, these three explorers made a descent from the Coya to Arriondas in the year 1930 leading to Ribadesella in 1931. This was later considered as the first two editions of the test. However, in 1932, the final goal was fixed and the very first edition was carried out with thirteen paddlers from Gijon, Ribadesella and Oviedo. It was in the year 1935 arrive the inscriptions of the Asturian no paddlers in Sella.

In the meanwhile, the Spanish Civil War caused interruption between the year 1936 and 1943 for the competition. However, Descenso Internacional del Sella saw their first European participants in 1951. By the fall of 1994, the organisers took out 1,400 or more boats on the river banks, which is today’s one of the most crucial global canoeing appointments.

Descent of the river Sella
Descent of the river Sella

The Competition

The participants can be Spanish as well as foreign paddlers. Note the participants should be in possession of the license with a minimum age of sixty days. By 12 in the morning, the participants should be in the water with their boats and have taken their assigned positions. To ensure safety the blades of the paddles are locked inside a structure, which releases them when the light converts from red to green and after the verses by Dionisio de la Huerta has been singing.

The competition commences from under Ribadesella Bridge that is 20km from the exit and the participants, especially the cadets and centenarians need to arrive under San Roman Railway Bridge, which is about 15km from the exit. After the arrival of the first boat, the closing control is performed.

Julio Martinez is one of the most recognised athletes who made eleven wins and nine of them were consecutive between the year 1998 and 2006. Javier Hernandez and Miguel F. Castanon are two other names who won with five different partners.

The competition is categorised under;

  • Cadets
  • Junior
  • Senior
  • Veterans
  • Centenarians

Also, it is divided into men and women.

Sella Anthem

Very few people know that there is a specific Hymn of the Sella that was composed by the poet Pola de Siero, Candido Sanchez and Spaniard Manuel Alonso. This is recalled in Infiesto, the capital of the Council of Pilona that started off the first two tests.

The Canoes Festival

The Festival of Canoes is declared as the celebration of International Tourist Interest, taking place on Friday night at Les Arriondes and on Saturday night in Ribadesella. During the fest, these two cities are totally taken by visitors and campers hailing all over from Spain and even abroad.

However, not all come here participate, but to enjoy the spectacle of watching the stream of people. A special train, named Fluvial Train is made available on that day to manage the traffic and manage it to the right route, beginning from Les Arriondes taking a route that is parallel to the river via which passes the race. The train halts at points to allow the spectators take a look at the race closely.

What Should You Bring for the Competition?

Whether or not you get to hire costumes and all the necessary things for the competition, you should always carry your own things. Of course, you wouldn’t like to use a swimwear that someone who might have had Psoriasis used a year ago. You need to be a little hygienic, right? So bring along;

  • Swimsuit
  • Right shoes for the river
  • Towel
  • Spare underwear
  • First-aid
  • Also, sunscreen is important

Other Activities

Besides, being a part of the canoeing festival, you can get yourself indulged in activities like rafting, horseback riding, 4×4 trails and paintball. Accommodation isn’t an issue here. So, pack your bags and get set go.

How to Get There?

You can take a flight to Alicante airport and can get to Sella through public transport like buses, trams or maybe a taxi.

Safety Advice

You should familiarise yourself with the environment and also know the weather forecast so that you can carry clothes accordingly. It is equally important to have a brief knowledge about the traffic and routes. Always wear shoes as rocks and rough terrain may cause serious hazards. Additionally, carry hats as prevention from the UV rays. Wear buoyancy aid to save yourself from drowning.

Canoeing may seem to be very thrilling and surely will give you a lot of adrenaline rush. But, if you do not have much experience and you are going weak on your nerves, it is better that you don’t take the plunge. Instead enjoy the view by the riverside.

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