On Saturday, 5th August, ten Australian Canoe Marathon paddlers participated in the 85th ‘Descenso Internacional del Sella’ or Sella Descent.
The 20km river race from Arriondas to Ribadesella in Asturias in northern Spain is a sight to behold, with Australia’s women’s U23 K2 team or Brianna Jones and Hannah Scott holding their nerves to secure the the U23 K2 gold medal.
The famous race welcomes around 1500 competitors in 900 boats, in a single Le Mans style start on a narrow shallow river.
The atmosphere is unique, with thousands of spectators lining the banks, music playing, crowds cheering and building to a crescendo as local and regional anthems are played prior to the start being signalled from a shot from an artillery cannon.
Frenetic activity then ensues, with the lead boats getting away cleanly while the majority bump and crash into each other, with paddlers levering off each other when there is no room to get a paddle in the water.
The river is thick with boats for the first four to five kilometres before the field starts to spread, with small rapids and corners providing opportunity for further misadventure.
Australia’s K2 team of Brianna Jones and Hannah Scott placed 195th overall, but secured the gold medal for the Women’s U23 category.
Dual Olympian Steve Bird teamed up with two time Canoe Marathon World Championships representative Brendan Rice to be the top performing Australian team, finishing 19th overall.
Boat 300: Brianna Jones / Hannah Scott, 195th overall, 1st out of 6 Women’s U23 K2
Boat 248: Charlie Hewitt, 164th overall, 16th out of 44 Men’s U23 K1
Boat 254: Luke McAndrew, 460th overall, 44th out of 44 Men’s U23 K1
Boat 19: Brendan Rice / Steve Bird, 19th overall, 18th out of 78 Men’s Senior K
Boat 58: Jeremy Doney / William Lee, 45th overall, 35th out of 78 Men’s Senior K2
Boat 74: John Young / Dominic Scarfe, 238th overall, 65th out of 78 Men’s Senior K2
Complete results are available HERE.