23/6-1/7/2012. Downriver worlds championships in La Plagne (FRA).20/5/2011. Augsburg 2011 world sprint championships.8-13/6/2010. Sort 2010 world championships.6/7/2010. Wildwater expedition in Buochs (Switzerland).8/3/2010. Another historical video.21-28/6/2009. Alessandro Leonori at the WW Europeans 2009.27/4/2009. The past.28-29/3/2009. International competitions on Enza river.26/1/2009. Snow, snow, snow at Idroscalo lake!30-31/8/2008. A successful expedition in Erstfeld (SUI).

Head of CUS Milano Wildwater Kayak Team is Mr Paolo Pescalli.

The team takes part to regional, national and international wild water (downriver, slalom) and flatwater competitions.


CUS Milano Wildwater Kayak Team was founded by its first president Ezio Lanfranconi and Paolo Pescalli in Nov 1975, headquartered in Milan Idroscalo lake (2,5 Km x 0,5 Km), created in the thirties for take-off and landing of seaplanes, close to Linate Airport. Paolo Pescalli started paddling in 1968 with GMC (Gruppo Milanese Canoa) as a flatwater kayaker, then founded Canoa Club Bobbio and, in 1974, is counsellor of Canoa Club Valtrebbia. Those were years of big passion for wild water kayaking. In the sixties only a limited number of forerunners praticed kayaking in the rivers. Few people knew the rivers, how to access them; and few were the kayak clubs who organized such descents. Finding the right material for boats was very difficult: kayaks were ofter built in-house using forms, resin and fiberglass. Years of big enthusiasm, with no kayak schools as you can find today. The beginner followed the "group" or "the old experienced man" and, capsizing after capsizing and boat destructions, finally learned somehow to go down. While Kerouak's "On the road" was being oversold in bookstores, river descents were an alternative to road-trips. Kayakers of that era were considered the "gipsies of the torrents": long hair, tents, bonfire, guitars, friendship and solidarity. What was once considered an ideological movement gradually became what we now call "extreme sport", with completely different features. In this environment, in the early seventies, with universities full of students with their dreams and passions, the old and wonky flatwater CUS Milano Kayak Club was inundated by a population of buoyant and coloured river kayakers. The wild water kayak school of CUS Milano started in Sep 1975 and made use of the boats that Pescalli received from Canoa Club Valtrebbia, the best kayak group in Italy at that time. This equipment consisted of fragile fiberglass kayaks that today nobody would dare to utilise for river descents.

Pescalli, Raimondi and Montecucco, founders of CUS Milano Wildwater Kayak Team in 1975

Those years saw a moltitude of applications, hundreds of students that in many cases, after training, became valid competitors. Among them whe recall the first group of 1976 whose members were Paolo Pescalli, Paolo Montecucco, Enrico Raimondi, Paolo Pellegrini, Marco Chendi, Bruno Rosini, Roberto Tedoldi, Ruggero Dondi, Beppe Tomatis, Marco Tadini, Valter Peri, Francesco Paracchini, Nicola Dal Verme, Roberto Marcheschi, Sandro Citterio, Umberto Vittani, Erasmo Neviani. They are today respected doctors, lawyers, engineers, and all remember with emotion and nostalgia those macig years. Among them we count also many women: Cristina Negro, Francesca Morpurgo, Cristina Pianetti, Silvia Marzani, Cristina Mascherpa, Manuela Simonetta, Mari Cler, Barbara Ardu and many others.

Ruggero Dondi, 1982 (click on the picture to enlarge)

Athletes from other clubs also joined CUS Milano: Maurizio Bernasconi (the man who later opened the famous kayak school on Sesia river), and the champions of C1 and C2 from Canoa Club Bobbio and Canoa Club Valtrebbia: Pierluigi Inzaghi, Roberto Botta, Enrico Aguzzi, Alfredo Leoni and Angelo Ongaro.

Paolo Pellegrini on Trebbia river, winter 1982 (click on the picture to enlarge)

All of them were competing at international level and joined our club, that became the biggest in Italy by size. Think that in the 1977 Italian and University Championships on Sesia river in flood, CUS Milano provided 17 boats and 3 teams in the K1 Senior category alone, not to mention the 32 boats that run under our flag on Brembo river in 1978.

CUS Milano Kayak Team before starting the race on Trebbia river, 1979

The late seventies saw a significant improvement of technique and materials. Almost all italian rivers had been explored in every condition. Rescue techniques were also improving. The introduction of kevlar and carbon fibre made kayaks safer, clumsy hochey helmets gave way to more appropriate protections and new textile materials; so the once dreaded freezing winter descents became more affordable and enjoyable. All was ready for the big "jump" of the eighties, with the arrival of the ultra-solid plastic kayaks, the proliferation of kayak schools, the transformation of paddling from "philosophy" to common sport discipline with its hard-and-fast regulations, finally accessible to everyone. On spring 1980, Pescalli cruises the big Po river alone, with a canadian open canoe, from Piacenza to Venice in 6 days, paddling unrelentingly and sleeping on the big river oxbows under the canoe itself, used as a shelter. There was still enough space to write sport challenges. On 1984, due to compulsory administration of the main CUS Milano club, the agonistic division of CUS Milano Kayak Team was dissolved, and only Paolo Pescalli and Paolo Pellegrini were given authorization to run races in order to allow the kayak school to keep the membership with Italian Kayak and Canoe Federation. It was a dramatic period for our club, with no alternation of instructors, with no chance to raise new kayakers, so a huge damage for the years to come. The wild water C1 discipline, traditionally handed down from kayaker to kayaker, was then comdemned to disappear, not only at CUS Milano but in all Milan. Only the "stainless" Pescalli and Pellegrini continued to wave the flag of CUS Milano river canoeing.

Paolo Pescalli and Paolo Pellegrini, 1982 (click on the picture to enlarge)

However, the kayak school in the eighties got very good results: up to twenty courses per year, many stages on the rivers. A school base in Bobbio, on Trebbia river, was created, with the help of Enzo Traferri, Colombano Leoni, Carlo Cerri, Riccardo Meloni, Francesco Mozzi, Paolo Bellocchio and Pier Inzaghi of Milan Icos Gym Club. Canoa Club Bobbio also took advantage of this twinning and retrieved its agonistic activity.

paddling on upper Trebbia (Lenzino bridge, Marsaglia) by Paolo Pescalli and Paolo Pellegrini, january 1982
(click on the pictures to enlarge)

The group was also involved in the press: articles were written by its members for the magazine "La Canoa" for many years. In 1982 Pescalli was granted "Maestro di Canoa ad honorem" title by the Italian federation. In 1987, in order to continue the agonistic activity, Paolo Pescalli founds the Rafting Association and becomes the first president of AIRAF (Italian rafting federation). The CUS kayakers could then easily win the first rafting championships in Italy in all categories: the disorganized crews of other clubs were smited by soldiers that were really able to ride waves. 1982 is remembered also for the victory by Pellegrini-Rosini-Pescalli of wildwater team race championship on a really impetuous Adda river. Barbara Cappelletto passes the exams and becomes one of the most respected kayak female instructor in Italy. CUS Milano joined many competitions abroad, first of all the 1978 European Championships on Noguera Pallaresa in Spain. Also we remember the Sella Marathon, with 800 kayakers starting their run with a cannon shot, and the Otta race in Norway in 1981. Things started changing in the early nineties. Thank to the then counsellor Vincenzo Sabatini, some fundings have been diverted in favour of the kayak school and new material purchasing. It was a modest recover: on 1992 Peri, Pellegrini and Pescalli won again in K1 wild water championships Master team race on Brembo river, and once again took part to the pre-selection for the World Championships on Sesia river in 1993. Angelo Franzini filmed a lot of educational video-clips with his waterproof camera. In those years the Kayak Division and the agonistic team were build up again, and more competitors could apply to the Italian Federation, but the time lost in the previous years will be hard to fill up. In 1992, competitor and instructor Debora De Pasquale starts her activity. She gets her instructor diploma in 1996 and today is head of instructors, giving lessons in the popular evening courses, traditionally full of newcomers.

historical video: CUS Milano kayak school in summer 1993 (click to watch)

In the nineties, some stages for students and collaborations with teachers working in specific courses for sport entertainers have been also organized. In the same period, many medals have been won by Emilio Pellegrini, born in 1918, former ski champion with Zeno Colò, in veterans' races: an unmatched example of bravery. Unfortunately, this period marked also the unrelenting decline of kayaking, a crisis that hit all the rowing world: few competitors, high costs, too much fatigue for an almost unknown sport, never seen on TV screens and short of supporters. In the last years, helped by instructor Bruno Rosini, some competitors improved the slalom technique. Among them Marco Sara and Bruno Zecca. Nowadays there's an important cooperation with Milano Sport and many kayak courses located at Saini swimming pool are being set up. Also, contacts are under way with Canoa Club Bobbio to promote weekends on Trebbia and Aveto rivers. Since the arrival of Alessandro Leonori from Rome (formerly competitor for Associazione Romana di Canoa e Canottaggio, located in Rome's Villa Ada lake), wild water classic, sprint and marathon athlete and kayak instructor, in late 2004, CUS Milano Wildwater Kayak Team enters the web, and this site comes to existence. Alessandro is actually working at promoting stages and weekends for kayakers in order to improve their technique, also relying upon the contribution from experienced kayakers who are not members of the club.

1975-2016: a concise summary of CUS Milano glorious milestones!

We run races, also organize paddling journeys in the sea, lake, river. Whereas is water we are there with our equipment.

We provide every kind of service to both beginners and experienced kayakers: read more.


Paolo Pescalli - Head of CUS Milano Wildwater Kayak Team, Instructor, Kayak teacher "ad honorem" F.I.C.K. since 1982

Debora de Pasquale - Instructor, CUS MILANO Counselor

Marco Sara - Instructor

Lorenzo Molinari - Instructor

Enrico Raimondi - Treasurer

Alessandro Leonori - Instructor, Webmaster

Pierluigi Inzaghi - Executive, PALACUS IDROSCALO Director

To contact us, please visit the contact page