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More 2019 raft races than you can shake a paddle at!

It’s only mid January and we have 18 raft race events already in the diary (at the time of publication). This number will increase in the coming weeks as organisers confirm dates for other events. 2019 is shaping up to be the year that your team get their name known on the IRF European and World Cup circuits (and of course the European and World Championships if eligible).

Euro Cup series
As it stands, this year’s Euro Cup series is already more than ten events across the continent from as far west as the United Kingdom to Georgia in the east. Popular favourites Wildalpen, Devil’s Stream and Trnavka feature again, as does the burgeoning new favourite Dracula Race in Romania (who can’t love a race where you need to wear garlic at night or dance the night away to stay safe!). We welcome back Georgia with a challenging R6 in late summer on the Tskhenitskali and newcomers Rafting Association of Serbia on the River Lim. No strangers to racing on the international circuit, Great Britain (United Kingdom) finally join us in hosting two Euro Cup events this year.

Each event in the series is a stand alone event with medals awarded as normal for Category C races. To make the series more exciting, teams will amass points scored at each event and at the end of the series, the teams with the most points will be awarded the title Euro Cup Champions! So even if you aren’t the national qualifying team, you still stand a chance at being crowned a Euro Cup Champion – just get out there and participate in as many of these events as you can!

We look forward to welcoming teams new and old to our IRF Euro Cups this year!

Continue reading More 2019 raft races than you can shake a paddle at!

We are river family – meet Dragan Babic

This week we meet larger than life, character of a thousand words and improvisations, and master of hilariously bad jokes (especially when he translates them from one language to another), Dragan Babic. Many will know him from racing in Bosnia and Herzegovina OM but also he’s quite often behind a whistle, stop watch or clipboard as part of one of the regular IRF timing teams. It would do no justice for me to write about him so here he is in his own words…

How did you get started in rafting?
First of all I am coming from a family of paddling people because my father and uncle are the one of the best canoe double paddlers in ex-Yugoslavia so I was meant to be a paddler before anything else. As many of you know my country had a big civil war and until 2000 we did not have much contact with sports and activities. So my first contact with paddling was in 2000. My friends Boris Potočnik and Srdjan Šušnica in 2002 formed a rafting club named “Argonaut” and invited me to join and start rafting. That was my first contact with rafting boat but bear in mind that in that time I was paddling canoe slalom and downriver and I did not have time to train seriously. In 2010 I formed my own club and named it Dayak club. Now you must think I made a spelling error but no Dayak is a traditional boat in Banja Luka and it is 7m long and it is completely made from wood and you drive it with wooden stick that is named Dayak. In that club we had 6 people that was in some part involved in paddling sport and then we decided to make rafting team and to go try competing in Bosnian rafting league. After that – all else is history 😀

How did you get into rafting?
My biggest motivation is my team and friendship we have between us. I think that is our biggest strength and key of our success. And of course traveling all-round world and doing that with my friends.

Continue reading We are river family – meet Dragan Babic

Will Tully give the Australian U19 Men team a home advantage?

Coach: Mark Miller
TR: Cooper Miller, Justin Baume, Lachlan Willmott
BR: Nathan Tibbs, Liam Stephen, Jacob McClarty

Not content to just compete in rugby, mountain biking and kayaking, the AUS CROCS are looking to win hearts, minds and medals in the IRF’s World Rafting Championship on the Tully River in May. This week we find out a little more about the team and how they’ve gotten to where they are. They can’t wait to show you their river and hospitality.

In September of 2017, Mark Miller was approached by the Australian Rafting Federation to become the team coach. It didn’t take long for Mark to decide – his own son Cooper was keen to join the team and overnight Mark took on the reigns as coach. However, at this point the team only had three teammates! And so the search to find the needed three more saw school friends and a family friend enticed by the thrills and spills of white water raft racing.

Continue reading Will Tully give the Australian U19 Men team a home advantage?

What do freestyle kayaking and rafting have in common?

All aboard the Big Air Ramp

For one thing, they now have a common festival to celebrate the joys of big white water. Since 2002 the Nile River Festival has showcased the Nile’s amazing rapids, Uganda’s friendly peoples and been home to some of the world’s best freestyle kayakers. From 2019, the Nile River Festival will also provide an opportunity for raft racers and raft enthusiasts to take part in the action.

Over the last 10 years, the White Nile (Lake Victoria down to the confluence with the Blue Nile) has seen the construction of two dams which has devastated much of the local microcosm of natural flora and fauna and drastically changed the lives of thousands of inhabitants, many of whom used to make their livings from the land which is now under the man-made lakes.

Continue reading What do freestyle kayaking and rafting have in common?

Promoting tourism safety in Costa Rica with 100s of newly certified raft guides and safety kayakers

By Shannon Farley

The Costa Rica Sports Association for Adventure and Paddling, which represents the IRF in Costa Rica, has conducted a massive certification mission in the country to certify 178 raft guides and safety kayakers with the goal of improving safety in adventure tourism.

The initiative, which has the support of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and the Costa Rican National Training Institute (INA), is the largest effort at one time in the world to certify guides in the rafting industry in guiding and safety skills.

Between Nov. 27 and Dec. 14, 151 raft guides and 27 safety kayakers from all over Costa Rica were certified to IRF standards using the Guide Training and Education Award System (GTE), the most widely recognised whitewater raft guide qualification in the world. In total in 2018, between September and December, more than 275 guides were IRF certified in Costa Rica, including four female guides. INA has agreed to officially validate the certification.

Continue reading Promoting tourism safety in Costa Rica with 100s of newly certified raft guides and safety kayakers

We are river family – meet Vedat Vural

In our final River Family interview for 2018, we meet Vedat Vural – a pioneer of rafting in Turkey. Before 1990, he worked as a mountain and expedition guide, always getting excited every time he saw rivers carving through the mountains and valleys.  It all seemed a mystery. Where does it go? Which places does it go through? What beauties of Nature are offered in its secret valleys? There was only one way of finding out the answer; go with the flow.  Vedat had to find a way to travel with rivers in the same harmony, first making his own raft from tractor inner tubes meshed around with fishing net and circular plywood floor. The first test was on Turkey’s Köprüçay river in summer 1988.  To put it simply: it failed. Vedat recalled that they just drifted down the river without any control. However, this is when he got the bug. The mission now was to find a proper raft to explore the legendary historical and holy Euphrates river.  There were some rafts in Istanbul made for an Austrian company, but the company had changed their mind about buying them.  This was their chance. With one of these rafts, Vedat led the first descent of the Euphrates and Coruh rivers becoming a rafting pioneer in Turkey.

What motivates you to keep rafting?
I am in love with Nature. Weather, environment, conditions, crew, rapids are constantly changing. Honing my decision making skills, singing songs all the way. Sharing my experiences with my crew is the highest motivation for me.

Continue reading We are river family – meet Vedat Vural

We are river family – meet Graham “Fredi” Maifredi

If you haven’t met Graham “Fredi” Maifredi, you’re either brand new to rafting or been living under a rock for the past 25+ years. One of the biggest characters of our River Family, this week we meet the one and only (and let’s face it the world is not ready for more than one of him!), Fredi. He’s been rafting since time eternal, was involved in Project RAFT, was one of the founding members of the IRF, has his own video series on Youtube, been a raft guide for 28 years, raced for most of those and is Event Director for the 2019 IRF World Rafting Championship in Tully, Australia.

How did you get into rafting?
I started rafting after completing my boiler making/Structural Steel apprenticeship. I had 6 weeks paid leave up my sleeve, and decided to start a guiding course in November 1989 and after completing the course by Jan 1990 I got my certificate. Of the 7 guides that completed the course on the Tully river , two were successful – myself and Radar. The Tully River was crazy busy in those days… 50+ rafts used to run this technical river 300+ clients per day. It was all action and logistics. Such an extreme change to what my life was / used to be in ole Tully town.

Continue reading We are river family – meet Graham “Fredi” Maifredi

How to work out what age division you are in for competitions

Having trouble working out what age group you are in for our divisions? Here are a list of ways you can work it out to see if you are eligible for the 2019 year:

You are OLD ENOUGH to compete in the Open division in 2019 if you:

  • are 14 years or older on the 1st of January 2019
  • were born in 2004 or earlier

YOUTH – you are eligible to compete in the U19 division in 2019 if you:

  • are under 19 years old on the first of January 2019
  • were born in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 or 2004

JUNIOR – you are eligible to compete in the U23 division in 2019 if you: 

  • are under 23 years old on the 1st of January 2019
  • were born in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 or 2004

MASTERS – you are eligible to compete in the Masters (40+) division in 2019 if you:

  • are 39 years or older on the 1st of January 2019
  • were born in 1979 or earlier

We are river family – meet Kianoosh Mehrabi

Cast your mind back to 1985, now imagine the Persian Gulf, the seaside port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. Somewhere out there on the water is a young Kianoosh Mehrabi! For many years he’d watched videos of white water rafting and kayaking but didn’t know how or where to get into whitewater sports. So he started with many other water sports such as swimming, flat water canoeing and kayaking, water skiing etc, but they weren’t enough for him. They didn’t satisfy his adventurous side so he kept searching for true adrenaline sport.

Kianoosh stepped into the world of tourism in 1996. A little later he joined Ecotour Iran, the first and leading Iranian Ecotourism Center as tour manager. There he found the chance of working with ecotourism experts. At this point he started combining Nature and Adventure with tourism. He loved this job a lot but still it was not enough – because he had less time for his on water activities.

How did you get started in rafting?
I was on a wildlife tour in India looking for Bengal Tigers in 2002. After finishing the tour I had a few days free time so I decided to go to Uttrakhan Province, the holy province for Indians, the origin of the holy Ganges River. It was not only the most famous place for yoga and meditation but also a newly famous place for rafting. I joined a rafting tour for the first time and I fell in love with rafting. I found my real love!

I combined rafting and tourism. It was the best combination! I could have wet adventure and tourism together so I had enough time for both tourism and adventure sport. White water rafting in Iran was a relatively new adventure activity started in 2003 with early expeditions and rafting trips to the Himalayas (India and Nepal) arranged by Kianoosh Mehrabi, the first Iranian raft guide and river expedition leader. Many Iranians had the chance to paddle in the Himalayan Rivers – Alaknanda, Ganga, Trisuli, etc.

After gaining knowledge and experience in 2007 he devised “River Ecotourism in Iran” which was considered by the Iranian Tourism Organizations as a national development plan for the country. The plan was based on River Tourism safety standards and Eco-tourism principals. The main aims were: promoting white water activities in tourism and sport, preserving nature and conserving rivers, empowering local communities by employment and economic development.

Continue reading We are river family – meet Kianoosh Mehrabi

Bidding farewell too soon to Cass Emary

With a heavy heart we share the untimely passing of Cassandra Emary or “Cass” as most people will fondly remember. Not one to let boundaries or challenges get in her way, Cass was an avid white water kayaker and adventurer. At only 23, her energy and voracity for life showed in all aspects of her life.

Despite only being a recent convert to raft racing, Cass competed in the Australian Open Women’s team at the recent IRF World Rafting Championship in Neuquén, Argentina where she brought smiles to everyone she met. Sat back right, she commanded the view and was an integral part of the team.

Our thoughts are with her family and team mates now. Paddle on sister, we’ll meet you in the big eddy in the sky.

 #RaftersAreAwesome #LikeAGirl #ThisGirlCan