The IRF World Cup 2021 Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina brought top national teams to Vrbas river! From 18 – 21 June this year, Republika Srpska once again hosted the Rafting World Cup. Rafting Klub Kanyon were the formidable hosts that all rafters have known for decades as the home of rafting in eastern Europe.
This year’s IRF World Cup saw many challenges from the global pandemic and the overriding goal of ensuring everyone’s health and safety. So it was especially exciting welcoming top national teams to Vrbas from across Europe. The World Cup is the pre-cursor to the World Rafting Championship which will return to the Vrbas in 2023.
The goal of top raft race teams is to be the best and to win, not just to compete against touristic teams. So with six countries represented and around 120 athletes, the World Cup 2021 – Banja Luka brought together familiar faces and a few new ones. With a traditionally strong presence at world level rafting events, eastern European nations were represented by teams from Serbia, Romania, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and a large contingent from Russia.
Normally at this level we see strong competition between Russian and Czech teams but travel restrictions meant that Czech teams were unable to attend. This meant a great opportunity for the two local Bosnian teams (RK Dajak Klub and SRK Bosna) to take on the mighty Russians. Also rising to the challenge were three MOE Romanian teams. Latvia again proved that we all need to visit their friendly country and Serbian team Pustolov Kes, once more ensured that everyone was part of this big #riverfamily.
Proving that rafting is a national sport, and efforts to bring top national teams to Vrbas means a greater chance at medals, it is definitely clear that Russian Rafting Federation’s Head Coach of the Russian National Team, Ekaterina Kozhanova is making great strides in training Russian teams.
In the Men’s division the top three positions changed with each discipline. Russian teams Ermak and Odyssey-Azimut-Tomsk jostled with RK Dajak Klub for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each discipline with each taking 1st in one discipline. The final positions came down to the results of the Downriver. RK Dajak Klub had home turf advantage with the Vrbas as their training ground. But unfortunately for them, Odyssey-Azimut-Tomsk took the medal with a 4.6 seconds better time.
The Women’s division dominated with both Russian teams taking 1st and 2nd overall. MOE Ladies from Romania, made sure that it wasn’t a clean sweep though with their 2nd place in the Sprint. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing MOE Ladies competing at more international events and hope racing with the top Russian teams has spurred them on in their sporting career.