Richmond’s Sella Descent Survival 2014
By Jordan Mungovan
Never has the old adage of ‘failing to prepare, is preparing to fail’ been more true than at the Sella Descent in 2014. ‘Failing to prepare’ being not having a back-up plan… Despite Richard Hendron having organised ourselves a flying K2 to descend the 25km rocky, flowing course from Arriondas to Ribadesella, we turned up to discover that it had been pinched by some Spaniards. Not being unaccustomed to such events occurring, we were not to be dissuaded from getting a boat to the start to take part and unearthed a simple but apparently fully functioning K2 that would do the job.
The start is really what makes this race what it is, the rapids are small and easily navigable, but the Le Mans style start at the top of a very rocky bank is quite unique. With thousands turning out for the event/strolling down from the rave in Arriondas on the previous evening, the atmosphere is phenomenal and reaches fever pitch just before the local Mayor yells “GO!” There is a certain technique, to what can only be described as a manic brawl, and myself and RH discovered that technique to be run like hell and shout like lunatics, which seemed to bring us more success than the boyos whose paddles were locked in next to us. We proceeded to make good progress early on, despite some battle wounds, but as can be the case when you find a boat 30mins before the start, we found we were taking on water at an alarming rate and were forced to empty. The situation deteriorated as we went over a particularly shallow part of the course in order to regain our prior position, and after that it was race over, at least in racing terms. We finished, to much amusement from the spectators, with our boat’s nose crossing the line under water.
This is a great race for all comers, with stunning views to be enjoyed the whole way and masses of support, both along the banks and from other competitors. It’s a shame there weren’t more Richmond paddlers over to do it, as we seem to be a very popular club with the locals and having done lots of marathon and descent races in the past, I think you struggle to find one as much fun and as competitive as this one, it also has one of the best after parties out there! So on that note I’ll end. Hope to see more of you there next year!