Once the anthems of the Piraguas and Asturias finish, at 12pm the race traffic lights are lit. The green light notifies the volunteers to open the “cepos” (a metal structure that releases the paddles, when the traffic light changes from red to green). These “cepos”have been specially created for this event and aim to ensure that all the canoeists start at the same time.
The 20km from Arriondas to Ribadesella by canoe is a challenging descent, with a number of issues faced by the canoeists such as: the great number of participants, the rapids and the changing level of water which means that no descent is the same.
Once the race begins and the canoeists have overcome the difficulties of leaving the start line they hit the first rapid: La Raíz - a simple rapid before the rapids of Remolina and Ricao. Next comes an area of low and calm water called the “espigones de Triongo”, approximately 3.5 kilometres into the race.
Following on from this is the rapid of Fuentes, which is trickier than the previous rapids; here the river narrows and curves to the right, before continuing 500 metres until the footbridge of Fuentes Railway Station. Then comes the area of “El Arco”, which is a relatively easy stretch and a good place for the public to watch the race. “La Vieyera” is a 1200 metre stretch of calm water which gives way to the “Picu la Vieya” rapid, one of the most spectacular points of the river..
At 8 kilometres, the canoeists reach the Toraño Bridge, a calm stretch of water for approximately 2 kilometres before the “Rapid of the Devil”, one of the most unique points of the river where the water becomes more powerful and courses between the rocks. As the river is not very deep here, it is not dangerous. This area marks the half way point of the race.
The race then crosses “La Requexada”, the longest straight of the entire descent and one of the best points to watch the race from the road (N-634), and from the train which accompanies the race downstream.
Llordón is a beautiful area of calm water, which is followed by “La Uña”, and here there is a footbridge at the same height as the road, and another good place to watch the race. The footbridge of Cuevas is a further 1.5 kilometres downstream. Llordón is followed by the old broken Dam of Santianes, where the race hits another area of strong rapids and crowds of people gather to cheer on the canoeists from the river bank.
At kilometre 16 of the race we reach Llovio and the Railway Bridge which marks the finish line for various categories. Here once again there are crowds of people gathering on the river bank to cheer on and to congratulate the participants. This also marks the final 4 kilometres of the International Sella River Descent, which leads to the entrance into the estuary of Ribadesella with changing water levels and where each year the passage is different.
3 kilometres further and we enter the area of the “Peñón” which separates the river into two paths, with “the Island of the Boticaria” in the middle. If it is high tide during the Descent, it is possible to pass the Island on the right, which is both closer to Ribadesella and to the train accompanying the race.
Finally, the race enters the ultimate 500-metre straight from Tito Bustillo Cave to the finish line at Ribadesella Bridge, where there are huge crowds of people to cheer on the participants and winners of the International Sella River Descent - a race which each year increases in size and fame.
LONG LIVE THE PIRAGUAS !!!!!!