Classic Rivers

Australia 2016: Avon Descent

The two day, 124km Avon Descent, is one of Western Australia’s most iconic and longest running multisport events, including both paddle craft (kayaks, surf skis) and small motor boats.

The two day course starts with a 52 kilometer stretch beginning at the Town of Northam, 100km east of Perth. The course proceeds downriver through the town of Toodyay into the upper reaches of the Darling Range escarpment.

Day 2 is 72km long and sees participants tackle the valley containing the major white water obstacles and challenges of the event including Supershoot, Emu Falls, Championship Rapids and Bells Rapids. Following the rush of the valley participants face the marathon 30km, flat water stretch to the finish at Bayswater.

Spain 2018: The Sella Descent

The first Saturday in August has become one of the most important dates on the international canoeing calendar. There is no other race like it! The race has well over 1000 paddlers taking part, all lining up along the river bank for a Le Mans style start, which makes for one of the most iconic sights in canoe racing, with gates holding the paddlers blades locked until the final moment.

The 20-kilometre course on the Sella River, runs from the village of Arriondas to the finish line in Ribadesella.

The atmosphere is what makes the race really special, there’s a train that runs along side the course full of spectators, people crowd down to the river to get in on the excitement, and the party at the end goes on all night.

South Africa 2021: Fish River Marathon

The Fish River Canoe Marathon is a two-day event taking place on the Fish River in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It covers a total distance of 81.8 kilometres, from Grassridge Dam southward to Cradock.

Not only one of the biggest canoeing races in the country, it is one of the most popular river marathons worldwide.

With a guaranteed water level and challenging rapids it is the highlight of the South African Canoe Racing Calendar.

Ireland 2022: The Liffey Descent

Unfortunately, 11 days before the 62nd descent of the Liffey in 2022, the Organizers made the decision to cancel the event due to low water levels. Canoeing Ireland chose to endorse the Liffey Lakes event as a replacement.

Fortunately, with the Irish Coast Paddling Champsionships taking place the same weekend, I was able to race on the Liffey River “source and sea” over two consecutive days.

The Lakes event was a tough, hot grind on flat water. By contrast, the Surfski event the following day provided technical, but EPIC downwind conditions, as a storm (associated with a yellow weather warning for Dublin) passed over the city on race day.