The best men’s team that Serbia has had so far is Klub ekstremnih sportova “VIR” from Pancevo. This crew is made up of Miroslav and Branislav Barasević (brothers), Nenad Miković, Miloš Petrović, Nenad Tomić, Jovan Njagul and Dragan Kovacević .
The part of the Danube River on which they paddle is not wild water, so the whole team were flat water canoeists and most of them have been doing that for ten to twenty years. At the State kayak and canoe Championships they often won first place, so in addition to rafting they are multiple national champions. They have also participated in many other flat water kayak and canoe World Cups, World and European Championships.
In parallel with this Klub ekstremnih sportova “VIR”, has so far taken part in two European Championships – in Italy in 2010 and the Czech Republic in 2012 – as well as the R4 World Rafting Championships in the Netherlands in 2010. They have been national champions since 2008. They have also participated in a number of Euro Cups placing first overall in 2012 and second overall in 2013.
Despite being so successful in this sport, and the best at representing the state and city they come from, they are still finding it difficult to come up with the funds needed to and get to the competition to further show what they can do.
2014 will be bringing us three big competitions. Two are in Europe – the R6 Euro Championships in Bosnia and R4 Euro Champs in Slovakia with the big one being the World Rafting Championship in the R4 division in Brazil.
We asked Branislav Barasevic which competitions we’d see them in this year.
“We will certainly participate at the European Championships in Banja Luka and have already begun to prepare for that competition. This competition is relatively close to us so it will not be a problem to go, and the cost of competition will be borne by the RFSS. Banja Luka has perhaps the best competition conditions in the world, a good river with a dam, excellent infrastructure, friendly locals and also always friendly organizers.
In the Serbian city of Nis, will be a Euro Cup event from the 17 – 18 May 2014, where we will not have to pay the entry fee or for camping. Since it is the day before the start of the Euro Champs in Banja Luka, we would like to invite all other teams to come and use our event as a preparation for the Euro Champs ’14. We’ve held a World Cup in 2009 here and many Euro Cup events so far, it will be useful to many teams!
We hope to be able to go to the WRC R4 2014 in Brazil. Due to the poor economic situation in Europe we were not able to go to New Zealand and the reality is that our chance in getting to Brazil are small as well.”
This sport is progressing very fast and does not require large funds to take a part in this competition, and we sincerely hope that the state, city and sponsors will help this team to take part in the World Championships in Brazil, where they belong. If they are unable to, then hopefully the second or third team will be able to. The second team is already automatically invited to both the Euro Champs events. And if they do not attend either of the then the 3rd team can attend, and so on on down the teams.
And what about R4 Euro Champs in Slovakia? Will we see you there?
“We hope we will get to that event.”
You say you have already started the preparations – how do you train in the winter?
“Now we are training on the ergometer for rafting which were designed in Serbia. And we have organise within the RFSS an Ergomer competition for rafting on the “DIF”.”
(More about the competition and Ergometer Race Rules)
Rafting is one of many extreme sports and for competition the best rivers and the best sections of the river are chosen. What are all of the European rivers you have been to so far and which one would you single out as the most difficult? Which is the most critical situation you have found yourself in so far?
“Of all the rivers on which we paddled so far the best experience we’ve had is from the Lipno na Vltava on the section of the river where the 2012 Euro Champs were held. The downriver is certainly one of the most attractive downriver tracks in Europe, if not the most attractive. There are many class 4-5 rapids, you pass over the dam, the nature around the river is great …
The most critical situation in which we have been so far occurred in 2010 on the River Struma in Bulgaria. The day before the start of Euro Cup, in training, we went down to the part of the track known as “Kazan”, where the high water was making the rapids very tricky to pass. The rapid was dangerous and unpredictable, so we flipped. One crew member was hit by a rock with his head and he was very lucky to not drown. Other team members were quite hurt and beaten up on the rocks.”
A very dangerous part of the river. I too have swum in “Kazan”, but I was lucky compared to friends from another team who were in the center of the vortex and who were still leaking water from his nose and ears three days later! Deep cleaning, my friends – it even takes your boots off your feet. :)
At the Euro Champs in the Czech Republic, 2012, after the Sprint and H2H you were in an excellent eighth place overall, a Serbian team has never been that high before. Does this mean that those are your best disciplines? What is the discipline that you like the most?
“Since we started rafting the best results we have achieved have been in the Sprint and H2H. It as not only in the Czech Republic that we did well in these disciplines, at the Euro Champs in Italy in 2010 we got knocked out in the quarter-finals, so we took 8th place. In almost all competitions where we have participated, we won medals in the Sprint and H2H (except Euro and World Champs) I the H2H once we were winning and teams that were in that event were the European Champions.
Of all the disciplines we like to paddle Sprint and H2H, probably because we are canoeists and do the sprint disciplines on flatwater, and most of our training is on flatwater because we do not have some conditions to practice slalom.”
Progress and development in the other disciplines are needed in addition to the technical conditions and material. What about the sponsors?
“So far we have not had major sponsors, so going to competitions and training is all funded by ourselves. We recently received funds from the town of Pancevo to purchase carbon paddles. Only for the Euro Champs can we rely on the help of the Rafting Association of Serbia, which bears all the costs.”
We certainly hope that these guys will find a sponsor and go to Brazil for the World Rafting Championship R4 2014, where they belong. Serbia should have a representative. There is no doubt that there they will also achieve excellent results for Serbia.
We wish them a successful season, and we look forward to see the flag of Serbia flying in Brazil.