Watersports - Rowing, Canoeing, Kayaking and Paddle-boarding

Rowing on the River Guadalquivir in Seville. © MIchelle Chaplow
Rowing on the River Guadalquivir in Seville.

Rowing

By its very nature, rowing is an inland waterway sport and is immensely popular along the River Guadalquivir, especially in Córdoba and Sevilla, where major international competitions and training camps are often held. It is mainly practised on straight, wide, flat (calm, smooth) stretches of water, hence the popularity of the Guadalquivir, but can also be found on inland lakes and reservoirs. Many of the latter also have small rowing boats available for hire by the hour, but these are for fun, whereas rowing on rivers tends to be the preserve of more serious, professional or skilled amateur oarsmen and women belonging to specialist clubs.

Anyone who can demonstrate sufficient skill levels can often join one of these clubs on a temporary basis and row in a full eight, a four or a double skiff. Single skiffs are, on occasion, available for hire, although it is obviously necessary to be able to prove due competence.

Further information is available from the Instituto Andaluz del Deporte (the Andalusian Sports Institute), or the Federacion Andaluza de Remo (the Andalusian Rowing Federation).

Canoeing

Much as rowing, canoeing (piraguismo in Spanish) tends to be mostly an inland sport, although it is possible to take a craft out in the Mediterranean or Atlantic, keeping within clearly defined safety parameters, such as distance offshore, and knowledge of sea currents and wind strengths.

Again, anyone wishing to hire a canoe from one of the centres located all along the Andalucian coast, from Huelva to Almería, will have to convince the hire operator that they can handle the craft competently. All canoeists, for example, should know how to right a canoe that has turned upside-down (known as an eskimo roll) and, needless to say, being a reasonable swimmer is absolutely essential.

You can also go canoeing on one of the fast-flowing inland waterways in the hills behind the coast, always under the watchful eye of experienced instructors from a specialist activity company, as it presents far more danger than pottering about on the placid waters of a lake or reservoir.

Inland marinas at Sevilla and Gelves offer docking facilities for those wishing to sail on the River Guadalquivir near its mouth at Doñana National Park. You can also find boating facilities near the source of the Guadalquivir in Tranco de Beas Reservoir in the Nature Park of Cazorla, Segura (Jaén province), and also at Las Villas. Similar facilities can be found on the Iznájar Reservoir, which covers parts of three provinces - Córdoba, Málaga and Granada.

kayaking and paddle-boarding

Kayaking is an all year round sport in Andalucia. © Michelle Chaplow
Kayaking is an all-year-round sport in Andalucia.

Kayaking and paddle-boarding are increasingly popular sports along the Andalucian coast. Kayaking is very similar to canoeing, except kayakers use a double-bladed paddle, whereas canoeists use a single-bladed paddle; and kayakers sit in their kayak, while canoeists sit or kneel in their boat.

Paddle-boarding (also called surf de remo in Spanish) consists of lying or kneeling on a surfboard and moving the board by paddling. Another sport which is winning many fans is Stand-Up Paddle-boarding (SUP for short) which is described as a cross between canoeing and surfing, as it can be practised on waves; both sports originated in Hawaii.

All of these boat/board and paddling options are great ways to explore the coast of Andalucia, with many companies offering supervised tours along particularly beautiful areas of shore, such as Isla Sancti Petri in Cadiz.

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