The remit of the Sport & Competition Committee (S&C Com) is Raft Racing.

Bylaw 43 - Sport & Competition Committee
  1. The Sport and Competition Committee is responsible for advancing ARTICLE 5, Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Bylaws, and shall have oversight over all IRF policies and decisions that are related to sport and competition; including issues which are debated within its sub-Committees.
  2. The First Vice President shall serve as Chair of the Sport and Competition Committee. The Chair must be qualified for the position, which requires that he/she be very active in the IRF Sport and Competition Committee, and be fully knowledgeable of the various roles of the committee.
  3. The Sport and Competition Committee shall be composed of ten to twenty (10-20) members who are appointed by the Executive Committee and who are active in matters concerning sport and competition. The Sport and Competition Committee may not include more than one (1) member from any single country.
Bylaw Annexes to Article 43
The responsibilities of the Sport and Competition Committee include:
  1. Taking steps necessary to achieve the following objectives of the IRF World Rafting Championships (WRC):
    1. Organize R4 or R6 WRC each year.
    2. Expose more rafting participants to international and national competition.
    3. Increase the profile of the sport internationally.
    4. Provide the opportunity for rafting organizations to upgrade their technical and administrative skills.
    5. Provide an opportunity to conduct additional elite rafting programs (e.g., coaches’ and judges’ seminars) with international teams, coaches, and officials.
    6. Provide opportunities for the international public to witness the world’s best athletes in action.
    7. Provide opportunities for exposure of the world’s best athletes as role models for youth.
    8. Provide impetus for the development of international standards for rafting facilities, race formats, and equipment.
    9. Provide the opportunity for economic benefit to WRC host countries and sponsors.
  2. Maintaining the official Race Rules, which involves at minimum:
    1. Creating, updating and eliminating race rules and regulations when necessary after recommendations and consultation with judges, competitors and IRF Member Organizations.
    2. Maintaining current rules and regulations in an easy-to-access format that is available to the general public on the IRF website or through other media.
  3. Assessing bids for World and Continental Rafting Championships and make recommendations to the Board of Directors. This involves, but is not limited to:
    1. Creating, revising and maintaining bid documents.
    2. Assessing and comparing bids.
    3. Checking bids for accuracy and thoroughness.
    4. Taking part in venue assessment trips.
    5. Making final recommendations.
    6. Ensuring that bid contracts are fulfilled to the standard expected by the IRF and its members and associates.
Criteria to be a Sport & Competition Committee member
  • be a representative of one of our national federations or an officer of the BOD
  • have sufficient time and experience with international events in some capacity
  • have a good understanding of the race rules and the Bylaws that apply to S&C
  • be capable of understanding and considering the needs of all national federations and athletes
  • be capable of working cooperatively in a committee environment
  • be able to effectively and clearly communicate in the English language  (or have an interpreter for this)
  • be willing to follow directions and stay on task
  • answer emails and participate in committee decisions in a timely manner

Committee members:

Eric Boudreau

Eric Boudreau (Chair)

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Sport & Competition Committee - Chair

Eric Boudreau

  • First Vice President
  • Chair of Sports & Competition Committee
  • Judge Assessor

Eric started as a raft guide in 1988 and competed as a raft racer from 1996 to 2008. He was team captain/coach of the Canadian OM rafting team from 1999 to 2008.

He has been an Organizer and Race Director of six Canadian National Championships, 5 white water festival and about 15 rafting events including a World Cup in Canada.

He also has experience in organizing races for other sports such as mountain biking and ice canoe races.

He is a qualified referee for rugby and judge for ice canoe racing as well as having been an IRF Judge for the past 14 years.

He is an athlete in different sports such as rugby, ice canoe racing and mountain biking.

Since he stopped racing his love for rafting and the racing part of it has still been in him. He always tries to use his experience and knowledge to help the IRF to grow and move forward to become every year a better and more professional federation, running better and more professional events.

He has been the Head of the Judges Committee since 2009, which was created at that time. In the last few years in particular he has taken the standard of judging to a new level. Instituting compulsory Judge Workshops at the start of A and B level events has ensured that all judges are continually kept up to date with rule changes and reminded of how the IRF expects judging to be done at these prime events. The creation of the Judges Handbook provides a standard base that all event organisers, Juries and Judges can use for their events.

His experience with managing the Judge Committee over the past 8 years, and his regular experience on the race Jury, often as Head Judge, makes him an ideal candidate to lead the Sport & Competition Committee. Having gotten the Judge section running well and heading in the right direction he’d like to put his energy into improving other areas of the Sport & Competition section.

Joe Willis Jones

Joseph Willis Jones

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Sport & Competition Committee

Joseph Willis Jones

  • President
  • Chair of Board of Directors
  • GTE Assessor / Trainer
  • General Judge

Joseph Willis Jones, or “Joe Willie” as he is known to his friends,  serves as President and Chairman of the Board of the IRF and has held past positions with the IRF Board of Directors as co-Head of Sport and Competition and as Head of the Pan American Race Committee.

Mr. Jones is an IRF Judge, and an Assessor/Trainer for the IRF Guide Training and Education Program. He has a long and distinguished career as a whitewater adventurer, guide, explorer, competitor, instructor and coach. For more than 40 years, he has run hundreds of rivers spanning every continent, and led scores of multi-day wilderness trips to some of the most remote locations on the planet; from the Arctic regions of Alaska and Canada, to Patagonia, the Amazon, Central America, Oceania, Asia, Europe and Africa. He has also served as a consultant and river expert on several feature films and documentaries.

Raised in the mountains of the southeastern United States, he discovered and fell in love with river-running as a boy. After teaching himself how to run whitewater in an open canoe, arming himself with river guidebooks and the fearlessness of youth, he began to test the limits of the sport by targeting rivers that publications cautioned as being ‘unrunnable’ in canoes – an experience which led to his pioneering many first open canoe descents.

When commercial rafting exploded in the eastern USA during the mid 1970’s, his river experience gave him instant work as a raft guide where he realised that he could make a living pursuing his passion. At the same time, he began competing in and winning many regional open canoe wildwater and marathon races.

In 1981, lured by the images and stories of big western whitewater, he moved to western USA where his skills won him employment with numerous rafting companies on ‘classic rivers of the West’. He soon formed his own rafting business and paddling school, while continuing to rack up first descents with canoe and raft on many steep creeks and rivers of California, Oregon and Washington.

As an avid rock climber and rescue squad firefighter, he began to experiment and adapt climbing equipment, climbing knots and professional rescue techniques to aid in equipment recovery and swimmer rescue; and to teach these methods in his classes, to University paddling clubs, and to other river guides long before river rescue instruction became commonly available.

Gaining a reputation as one of the top whitewater boaters in the USA, he was invited to join a number of cutting-edge exploratory river expeditions in the USA, Asia and South America.

Topping the list in 1985 was a ‘yet to be repeated ‘ first raft descent through the Class V+ Grand Canyon of the Stikine tucked away deep in the wilderness of British Columbia, Canada. The Stikine proved to be one of the toughest sections of whitewater in the world, considered by many today to be the ‘Mount Everest’ of big water expedition paddling against which all other rivers are measured.

With a whetted appetite, this became the first of many paddling adventures in the far North – he spent years exploring the rivers of Alaska and the Yukon as well as taking adventure seeking tourists in rafts, canoes and sea kayaks to some of the most remote rivers and sea coasts on the planet.

In 1989 he was invited to Siberia by Project RAFT to compete for the USA in the first international raft competition, where he was part of an event that changed rafting forever by sparking international raft competitions around the world. Project RAFT was a citizen diplomacy initiative to ease tensions between the Soviet Union and the USA by putting Russians and Americans in the same boat on raging whitewater rivers. This led to additional international competitions which launched the formation of the International Rafting Federation. He continued to compete internationally for several years before focusing his energies once again on commercial guiding and river exploration in Central and South America.

Mr. Jones was awarded the prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal as part of a team that completed a grueling six-week scientific exploration of a little-known tributary of the Amazon, deep in the Brazilian jungle, and in 2013 he was honored by being selected as one of the founding members of the World Paddle Awards Academy,  a unique association of the greatest living paddle sports legends and figureheads in the world.

Now a permanent resident of Chile, Mr. Jones lives with his wife and son where he operates an eco-adventure tourism (and rafting) business with his extended Chilean family. He coaches and manages the gold medal winning Chilean national rafting team, and is heavily involved with organisations fighting to protect several rivers in Chile threatened by hydroelectric projects.

Sue Liell-Cock

Sue Liell-Cock

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Sport & Competition Committee

Sue Liell-Cock

  • Secretary General

Sue did her first river trip after getting a BSc in Computer Science and Geographical Science and discovering the normal working life was not for her. She was immediately hooked and became a river guide. Later she became part owner of a river company in South Africa. She was a founding member of the South African Rivers Association (now APA) and played a key role in its initial organisation. 

She was one of the first female guides in South Africa and has done much to promote women in this sport. In 1992 and 1993 she was a part of the Hunter’s Gold Ladies team which paddled in the Zambezi River Festival – in 1992 they were the only women’s team which, despite predictions from certain men that they’d need to be helicopter rescued out, came a respectable 16th out of 31 teams. She attended Project RAFT in Turkey 1993 as part of the African team.

From 1995 to 2001 she worked with Tony Hansen organising the Camel White Water Challenge (CWWC). She was a founding member of the IRF in 1997 and through her work with the CWWC found herself in a pivotal role for the future of rafting. She has been key in its administration and forward movement ever since.  Her experience as a guide, river company owner, competitor, event organiser, administrator and mum are all used in this role.

In 2001 Sue had the first of her two sons. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Pieter Bekkers

Pieter Bekkers

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Sport & Competition Committee - Chair

Pieter Bekkers

  • Treasurer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • GTE Assessor / Trainer
  • Judge Assessor

Pieter Bekkers started off his sporting career studying in sport education, specialising in whitewater kayaking and tennis as well as becoming a certified swimming teacher.

In the early 1980s he started building polyester Kayaks for personal use and selling while working part-time at the sport complex of Budel County. He started a kayak club in Budel as a trainer and initiator and organised the first kayak course in the French Alps for the ALO the Hague (State Sports Education School) and other participants. He then started his own company which built and rented kayaks and organized kayak courses in the Belgium Ardennes and the French Alps, and started the first kayak school in the Netherlands. From 1984 onwards he was running kayak whitewater courses in the French Alps (Durance), Swiss Alps (Inn), Dolomites in Italy (Rienz), and Soca in Slovenia. He developed and organised these programs himself. In this period he paddled plenty of rivers in Europe together with friends and also made numerous “First Descents”.

By 1994 the company had grown and the activities covered: kayak-whitewater weekends and weeks in the Belgium Ardennes, French Alps, Dolomites (Italy), Soca and the spring weeks in Corsica; company sports activities/team-training and sport/games days in the Netherlands and Belgium; special adventures and special programs for Caballero Around the World, Peter Stuyvesant Travel, Hyundai Challenge; renting of outdoor material, kayaks, mountain bikes, Langlauf skis, archery materials and rafts; renting of their locations; trips to Grand Canyon and Chile.

In 1997 he attended the Camel White Water Challenge in Zimbabwe on the Zambezi as part of the Dutch team, getting to do his first decent of the Zambezi River. Here he encountered the IRF for the first time at its launch. In 2004 he put new life into the Dutch Rafting Association (Nederlandse Raft Bond = NRB), put up a new BOD and associated it to the IRF. At present he is on the NRB BOD as president. NRB also started organising annual Dutch National Championships. From 2006-2009 he trained up a Rafting Ladies Team who became Dutch champions in 2006-2007-2008 and 2009 and in WRC results of this Dutch Ladies Team; 2007 – 8th place in Korea, 2009 – 5th in Bosnia.

He started Wildwaterschool which trains people to be professional Raft Guide and Kayak Instructor and also for Whitewater Rescue training. He wrote an educational book for rafting training and education for Dutch Sports Education Schools and other people who are interested and was asked by Dutch Water Dreams in Zoetermeer (first artificial rafting course in the Netherlands) to take care of the training project for Rafting / Hotdogs / Hydrospeed and Safety. Every year they train 50-125 new raft guides and he is responsible for DWDs safety.

In 2010 he was very key in the organising committee from Dutch Water Dreams for the IRF WRC Artificial 2010 and was Race Director at the event itself.

He regularly organises IRF Workshops in France at the river Durance and is now an IRF GT&E Assessor. A total of 8 schools from the Sports Education Schools are being trained by him in the French Alps; Rafting/ Kayak / Hotdog and Whitewater Rescue.

His Rafting Reader went into the 9th year/press and a total of 800 copies have been sold over the last 9 years. He also began a company that could do raft race timing and scoring.

Besides being an IRF GT&E Assessor, Pieter is also an IRF Judge Assessor and has been very involved in the recent World Champs in Indonesia where he worked very closely with the organisers in the preparation and then finally at the event as Co-Race Director. He has also been working very closely on the 2016 WRC at Wadi Adventures having been the first to contact them and following up with scouting trips and all advice to assist them through the bidding process. Without Pieter the 2016 WRC would not have happened and the 2015 WRC would not have run as well as it did!

Peter Micheler

Peter Micheler

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Sport & Competition Committee

Peter Micheler

  • Chair of International Relations Committee
  • President (1997 – 2006)
  • GTE Instructor Grade 4
  • Chief Judge

Peter Micheler, the founder and managing director of RTA, is one the most successful Slalom Kayak paddlers World Wide.  From 1977-1988 he was a national team member and won several world championship and World Cup titles. In the 80’s he was eight times German Champion in the Kayak Men’s class (1980-1988).  And still an unequalled performance to date.  In total 8 medals World(cup) – and European championships, 13 German championships, and in addition innumerable victories in international competitions.

At the end of his career as a Kayak paddler he dedicated himself completely to Rafting. Together with his former sport comrades in the Kayak Slalom and present guides of RTA he won the European Championships three times in a row (’92 – ’94), became five times vice-world champion and in 1997 gold medal winners at the World Nature Games in Brazil. In 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 he was in the team that was German Rafting Champion.

He was a founding member of the International Rafting Federation 1997 and has been a member of the Board of Directors since then. He led the IRF for 9 years as the President and was a Vice-President for some time too.

Sean Clarke

Sean Clarke

Kianoosh Mehrabi

Kianoosh Mehrabi

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Sport & Competition Committee - Chair

Kianoosh Mehrabi

  • Chair of Sustainability Committee
  • Trip Leader Grade 3
  • Raft Guide
  • Chief Judge

Kianoosh has an MA degree in Geography and Tourism Planning and has been planning and managing projects in the field of River Ecotourism and Eco-Rafting in Iran ever since. He has arranged rafting festivals and competitions as well as judge and guide training workshops.

He has been an IRF certified Raft Guide and Trip Leader  as well as IRF Race Judge since 2009, and has recently become certified as a Chief Judge.

He has explored numerous new rivers in Iran, such as the Karoun, Karkheh, Dez, Ghezel Ozan and Haraz Upper parts. He has managed a few river expeditions in Himalayas in India, Nepal, etc.

Kianoosh’s passion is Ecotourism and has 19 years of experience including River Expeditions, Wildlife Tours, Birdwatching Tours, Desert Safari, Jungle Safari, Climbing etc, and, since 1998, he is the Tour Manager and Managing Director of Ecotour Iran, the first Iranian Ecotourism Centre. He is also manager of Marcopolo Ecotourism Centre (Marco-Eco) the leading Iranian Travel Group & Holding since 2016. He does work cooperating with the UN in some projects; conservation of the cheetah in Iran, Ozone layer projects etc.

He has been on the IRF BOD since 2015; Founder and Head of Iran Rafting Association since 2011; Executive Manager of the Rafting Committee in the Iran Canoe Federation since 2015

Research and projects he has been, or is still, involved in include his MA Thesis on River Ecotourism in Iran which was selected as the national plan by Iran National Tourism Organization; plus various River Ecotourism Projects in a number of different provinces around Iran; and teaching “Ecotourism” and related subjects to ecotourism since 2003.

He has been working on expanding these projects world-wide, which is a slow process, but is gaining traction. He, together with Emilia, worked to get a Eco-Rafting Festival happening at the 2017 ERC and WRC, however, the plans need to be included by the organisers much earlier. He feels being Chair of Sustainability is the ideal place to continue to do this.

Goran Lolic

Goran Lolic

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Sport & Competition Committee

Goran Lolic

  • Judge Assessor

Goran is from Bosnia and Herzegovina and lives in the town of Banja Luka. He is a Lawyer of Internal Affairs, working in Republic of Srpska Ministry.

He first made contact with rafting in 2002 on the river Vrbas near his home town. He is one of the founder members of the Rafting Klub Kanjon who have been hosts to several Euro Champs and one World Champs. He was involved in the organising of the 2005 R4 Euro Rafting Champs, 2009 R6 World Rafting Champs, 2015 R6 Euro Rafting Champs, 2019 Euro Rafting Champs and more than 20 other rafting competitions on the River Vrbas.

He became an IRF Judge in 2006 and since then has participated in all A level IRF events (WRC), in all B level IRF events in Europe (ERC) and more than 70 rafting competitions at C and D level. As an IRF Chief Judge and now as an IRF Assessor Judge he has run more than 11 courses for new judges. He is a member of the Sport & Competition Committee and Judges Committee.

Tim Marshall

Tim Marshall

Yuni Yunita

Yuni Yunita

Graham Maifredi

Graham Maifredi

Bert Kanora

Bert Kanora

Aleksei Shirokov

Alexei Shirokov

Gunther Atem

Gunther Atem

Committee member no photo

Taku Ikeda

Committee member no photo

Martin Prochazca

Committee member no photo

Jean-Claude Razel

Committee member no photo

Rado Orkocky

Committee member no photo

John Ancito

Johanna Arguello

Johana Arguello

Aleš Danek

Aleš Danek

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Sport & Competition Committee

Aleš Danek

  • Chair of Athletes’ Commission

Alex is 41 years old,. He’s been rafting since he was sixteen and for the last 10 years has been a member of team HIKO, a top Czech raft team, in fact, were the World Champions at WRC 2018 in Argentina and have medaled many times.

He sees this committee as a good opportunity for the opinions and comments of the athletes to be collected and to be voiced within the IRF. He feels it will be positive if the other committees on the IRF will be able to hear from the Athletes what they think and to discuss their opinions and proposals. He believes it will be helpful for the IRF and for rafting in general.

Sub-committees: