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.
Most memorable river experience?
My trips to Russian International rafting forum 2016, 2017, 2018 and meeting Alexei Shirokov one of the best man that I meet in my life is my most memorable experience. And I recommend everybody to go and visit this Forum in 2019 because it is “maximum improvisation and super strong situations” 😀
Funniest river moment?
That is strong question for me because there are many situations that happened to me and my team in this several years. But I think the funniest things do not happen on the river it happens in the trip to competition. And so I will probably one day make a book of these adventures and funny moments. To me the most funniest moment was on my first trip to White Water Forum in Russia – we were landing in Tomsk and one girl behind me was vomiting into the ceiling and from there all of that fell on me, and I couldn’t wait to exit the plane and take my stuff and change. But we waited for our stuff but they did not come and so we spent 2 weeks in whitewater of Siberia with only backpack and no equipment for rafting. From then on I am always walking in my flip-flops, shorts, and t-shirt no matter what is the weather! 😂😀
Worst river moment?
There was one moment that almost broke our heart and almost destroyed my team totally and it happened in 2015 WRC Indonesia on downriver. We had 2 reserve paddles and in first 20 min we broke 3 and we couldn’t compete fair. We trained 3 months every single day 3 times a day for that downriver to win world medal and that happened. How hard it was we all almost gave up paddling and rafting. Only thing that brought us back was our friendship.
What do you do outside of rafting?
Outside of rafting I have a lot of work and my day is too short to put it all together. But somehow I am managing to combine it all so my family do not suffer “much”. But my second biggest love besides paddling is table tennis and I play it a lot with my friends. I also work with my friends on a voluntary base in a table tennis club for people with disabilities and I help them in training and administration work. Also I adore running in nature and of course above all is DAYAK boat and time on my Vrbas!
Life achievements so far?
My major achievement and best moment in rafting is winning second place in downriver in ERC 2015 in Banja Luka in front of our very good friends from Slovenia by 2,72 sec in over 50 min race. From then on we have super strong relation with Slovenian team 💪
Words of wisdom to anyone new to rafting?
Wisdom is not my strong side, but in this past year I released two things and first is “your team is as strong as much as your weakest part is strong”. Second is to make as many friends as you can because you will be happy and “rich” only if you have “real” friends around you! 😀
Strength of the IRF?
I think it is tradition that has IRF, super strong teams and magnificent WRC and ERC 😀
When will we see you next?
Competing in Austria (Wildalpen)! But I hope sooner!
Dragan is one of our River Family. Are You?
#AreYouReady #RaftersAreAwesome #RiverFamily #StrongerTogether #WeAreIRF
We’re looking for more stories of River Family – if you have a story to tell, email Sean with your story and photos.