Successful virtual Congress 2021 welcomes new Directors

On the 23rd of November the IRF held a very successful virtual Congress. Usually the IRF holds its Congresses during World Rafting Championships, with the last held in Tully, Australia in May 2019. But, as with so many things these days, adaptations needed to be made and the IRF has stepped up to embrace virtual meetings. For international organisations, holding virtual meetings makes a lot of sense and this was witnessed as key delegates were able to attend our successful virtual Congress more easily than our previous face-to-face Congresses.

Congress included key reports from each section of the IRF. In his lengthy Presidential report, President Jones detailed the significant progress made by the IRF since the last Congress, despite the unexpected difficulties experienced by the Covid-19 pandemic.  In his closing remarks, Mr. Jones noted:
“For more than two decades, we have made steady, measurable progress. We are more than an organisation, we are a movement. The IRF is the sum of its members, driven by an emotional heart filled with a love for rivers and for our sport, capable of making sweeping changes whenever necessary to reach our highest aspirations. No one, and no effort is too small to count.”

Besides reports on the various sections of the IRF, there was also proposed updates to the Bylaws, which were all accepted.

Successful virtual Congress welcomes new Board of Directors members

This Congress also included elections to the Board of Directors (BOD) which takes place every four years.  The election brought some changes to the BOD and we are pleased to welcome four new members.

Elected to the position of Treasurer, is Jasmina Marčok who is a National Member of the Asociatia Romana de Rafting, as well as an IRF Judge. She brings 28 years of work experience in accounting, including five years as a financial manager, to this position.  As Treasurer, Jasmina will also serve as a member of the IRF Executive Committee.

Elected to the position of Chair of the International Relations Committee is Aleksey Shirakov. Aleksey is the President of the Russian Rafting Federation, one of the IRF’s most active federations. He can also regularly be found racing at World and European Championship events. He brings his passion for the sport of rafting and extensive administrative experience to this position.

Elected to the position of Chair of the Communications Committee (formerly known as the Media and Marketing Committee) is Sean Clarke.  Sean is Chair of British Rafting, and is already well known in our media circles as the driving force behind the IRF’s social media presence.

Elected as Chair of the Judges Committee is Goran Lolic.  Goran is President of the Rafting Federation of the Republic of Srpska and is well known to many as an IRF Head Judge having served on the Jury of several World Rafting Championships, and involved in the timing and scoring at many IRF races.

Joseph Willis Jones (Chile/USA) was re-elected unopposed to a fourth term as IRF President, along with the remaining four BOD members elected by Congress.  President Jones expressed his gratitude for the trust that the IRF has placed in him to continue to lead the IRF forward.  Re-elected to serve on the BOD is Eric Boudreau (Canada) as First Vice President and Chair of the Sport and Competition Committee, Gáspár Göncz (Hungary) as Second Vice President and Chair of the Guide Training and Education Committee, Sue Liell-Cock (South Africa) as Secretary General, Emilia Begunova (Bulgaria) as Chair of the Recreational Rafting Committee, and Kianoosh Mehrabi (Iran) as Chair of the Sustainability Committee.

The new BOD will be meeting virtually for its first session in December.

Thanks to BOD members stepping down

Peter Micheler steps down as Chair of International Relations. Peter was one of the initial motivators to start the IRF, the founding President, and host of the founding meeting at his location in Augsburg back in May 1997 (more than 25 years ago!). But his valuable experience, contacts and knowledge will not be lost to the BOD as past Presidents are nominated as Honorary Presidents on the BOD.

Pieter Bekkers, who has been a BOD member since 2011, steps down as Treasurer. A proposal to nominate Pieter as an Honorary Member on the BOD has been made to the Executive Committee in appreciation of the work he has done for the IRF over the years, and so that his experience may still be shared by the BOD.

Jozef Kytka was the first to take up the Chair of Judges Committee when a change to the IRF Bylaws elevated it to a BOD position. He will continue on the Judges Committee in a supporting role to Goran Lolic.


Virtual Congresses are certainly far more sustainable, and for many, easier to attend that face-to-face ones. As the IRF has recently committed itself to halving our emissions by 2030 and meet net zero emissions by 2050, this is a great step towards that commitment.

Thanks to Delegates

The IRF thanks the many delegates who made the time to attend the Congress. And extra special thanks to those where it was scheduled at a less than convenient time.