International teams heading to China

This raft race in China is one of the most unusual competitions on the IRF calendar. Held annually, it is an R2 event and only a select 5 to 6 teams from around the world are invited. To participate, i.e.. to be selected from the rafters from around the world to compete, is a real honour. So, the honour to defend the colours of their country this year goes to competitors from Canada, USA, Hungary, Serbia and New Zealand, a total of only 11 rafters, plus the host teams.

Here is ​​an excellent video that can tell us a bit more about what the competition is about:

This contest is intended to promote rafting as a sport in China and in the provinces in which they are held.  This year’s competition will be held from the 13 to the 22 July 2014 in the following two provinces:

  • Stop 1: Yichang City of Hubei Province, southern part  of China
  • Stop 2: Dujiangyan City of Sichuan Province, southwestern part  of China
  • Sponsors: Yichang and Dujiangyan government
  • Host: China Water Sports Administration Center and Chinese Extreme Sports Association

And for the first time, we will report directly back to you from the contest. Here is an introduction to the teams coming in from overseas:

China Hun

Soma Kormanik – I have done rafting since 2008; 2009 Banja Luka – BIH – World Championship, downriver – 1st Position; 2010 Val de Sole – ITL – Euro Championship, and a lot of Euro Cup’s.”

Peter Koletics: 2013 Ceske Budejovice – CZK – Youth World Championship; 2013 Cunovo – SVK – European Cup. We are so enthusiastic because of the opportunity to represent our county and club so far from Europe. It is a great honour to been selected for a special competition like this.

Our expectations for the competition is to discover unique and new rivers in the middle of China. This is my second visit to China (Soma), the first one was unbelievable, for instance, the opening ceremony was one of the greatest that I have ever been to. Thus I am sure the organizer will hold an unforgettable raft event.”

China CAN

Andy Hill: “I started kayaking in 2003 and have been addicted ever since. I made my way over to rafting. Friends and I from the same rafting resort started raft racing and quickly became the Canadian national raft team. I have participated in the World Rafting Championships in New Zealand, Hell or High Water Race, Animal Race at Gauley Fest and more …

The Canadian team is honoured that we were chosen as one of the 5 internationals. It was a last minute change that allowed me to compete and it means the world to me that Jake (team mate) and I will be competing in China. Never in my life have I been given such an opportunity.

I have no expectations from this competition but I do have a great feeling that it will be amazing all around. It is my first R2 raft race and I am excited to see how we perform.

I don’t have anything in particular that I would like to see, I am a fan of taking in the sights as they come and the more that I can see the better.”

Jacob Suchorab – “It is an incredible opportunity that we have been given and I am more than excited to be part of the team. I love rafting with a burning passion and am very fortune to have been invited to the competition.

I have been rafting for 4 years and was part of the 2013 R4 Canadian Men’s team.
My expectations for the competition are that we do the best we can and hope we have put enough work and time into training to place somewhere high.
I am looking forward to be immersed in the culture and seeing a couple of the rivers that they have to offer. “

China USAMatt Norfleet – “Started guiding rafts in 1997, Worked in Colorado, West Virginia, Alaska, Grand Canyon, Costa Rica. Started racing in 2000 and went to first World Championships last year in New Zealand.

We were chosen from the current US National Team. Won the National Championships in California. Heading to 2014 World Championships in Brazil.

Hoping to gain more international racing experience, meet more of the racing community abroad.

Hope to experience the Chinese culture, see some of the fantastic sites.”

John Ancito – “I have been a commercial river guide since 2001 and most of that time was spent rafting in Colorado, USA. Over the past 14 seasons I have worked the Colorado, Blue, Clear Creek, Eagle and Arkansas Rivers in Colorado. These rivers range from easy class 1 to the most difficult Class 5 whitewater in the state.

I started raft racing in 2001 with the Gore Canyon race which goes through the toughest Class 5 around. That was all it took to get me hooked on racing. In 2011, a group of friends and I started the Ark Sharks raft team and attempted to compete for the US National Championships. In 2014 the Ark Sharks won the title for the first time.

I am so excited to travel to china, this will be an experience of a lifetime for me. The ancient culture is one of the most interesting parts of the trip for me and I hope to catch a glimpse of the Great Wall. This will be my first international rafting competition and I look forward to meeting new people and seeing new rivers while getting to compete.

I don’t know much about China or the regions that we will be travelling to, so the entire trip will be an Epic Adventure, I can’t wait.”

China SerbiaMilica Popovic –“I was introduced to rafting 5 years ago, and now I truly believe that Raft Racing is the best sport on earth. I love training, the people, amazing places and great adventures. I am passionate about championing ladies in sport.

I become a member of the Serbian national rafting team in 2009. Since then I participated in many national, Europe and World Championships.

It is a great pleasure and big honour for me to participate in this competition. It will be such a wonderful experience for me because I will have a chance to see their culture and a way of life, but at the same time I would be involved in competition and have a chance to enhance my rafting skills.”

Milica Tanasijevic –“Member of the Serbian national rafting team from 2006. Since then I participated in many national, European and the World Championships.

It is a great honour that I will be able to share with the girls from my team, to have the opportunity as the first Serbian team to take part in this competition.

This trip will give me an incredible opportunity to get to know China, their way of life, culture, food, architecture and more.

On the competition side we will give our best. Also, this will be a great opportunity to get to know the athletes that we have not met before at the World Championships and to paddle the new rivers and to see how an R2 raft race looks.”

Nadezda Nada Matic – “My passion towards rafting has been going since 2005. Competition paddling since 2006. I participated in many European Cups; European Championship and in World Championships.

This is a great honour for my team and I, an adventure that I cannot wait to start.

I know that we are the only women’s team, and I know how strong the competition is, so, certainly, we will give our best. But I hope for a bit of the sport luck. Also, I cannot wait to paddle on new rivers.

For me this is the opportunity of a lifetime to get to know China. I love Chinese art and the architecture, and I cannot wait to see their villages, nature, animals…

And yes, I will report on this event for you.”

China NZTina and Lance Roozendaal

​​”We take every opportunity to paddle and travel. We will be in China to travel and compete and promote the sport of rafting.”


Soon we will see who will be the best of these teams. Maybe some of the home teams will surprise us. But competing at this competition is already a victory for them and they know that. In addition to the opportunities to defend the colours of their country, certainly it would be a challenge for all to paddle on new river and in the R2​, but also and the opportunity to promote rafting​. Journey is an adventure for itself and a great opportunity to get to know China.

So, here’s to good times and a good strokes, folks.

Article by Nada