by Shannon Farley
When you hang out with river runners, there are always stories to be told and heard. Talk invariably comes around to the favourite rivers rafted and the rivers still left to be challenged.
That’s how it was for Rafael Gallo, Honorary President of the International Rafting Federation and International Whitewater Hall of Fame (IWHOF) honouree, when he spent 10 days in May at the IRF World Rafting Championship on the Tully River in North Queensland, Australia.
Inspired by connecting with rafting athletes and fellow river runners from all corners of the globe and reuniting with international river guides who have at times worked for Gallo’s rafting company Rios Tropicales in Costa Rica, Gallo reminisced on his list of the most exceptional rivers he’s rafted. He wistfully remembered rivers he’d run that have been lost to dams and deforestation; and he eagerly dreamed of the rivers on his wish list still yet to be explored.
From Costa Rica to Siberia, Africa to America, Gallo shares his personal Top 10 List of the Best Rafting Rivers in the World. He remembers the lost rivers he misses and previews the river adventures yet to come.
Continue reading Top 10 best rafting rivers in the world
Congratulations to Ales Danek who has been voted in as the new Chair of the IRF’s Athletes’ Committee.
Alex is 39 years old, works as a sales manager for Würth. 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.
San José, Costa Rica. Under the theme, “Risk management for a prosperous future”, the first-ever World White Water Rafting Summit (WWWRS) will be held at the National Conference and Convention Centre in San Jose, Costa Rica from October 8 to 13, 2019.
The historic event was announced on Saturday, May 18, 2019, during the IRF World Rafting Championship at the Tully River in Australia by Rafael Gallo, Honorary President of the International Rafting Federation (IRF) and President of the Costa Rica Sports Association for Adventure and Paddling (ADAR). The Summit has the backing of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT).
The WWWRS will convene experts involved in the regulation, certification and operation of rafting with the mission to modernise rules and procedures of the IRF worldwide. Rafting dignitaries attending the Summit will include Joe Willis Jones, IRF President and Chair of the Board of Directors; Jib Ellison, Founder of Project RAFT (Russians and Americans For Teamwork); and Julie Munger, CEO and Founder of Sierra Rescue International and the Western Regional Director for Rescue 3 International in the USA.
“It was decided to hold the World White Water Rafting Summit in Costa Rica because the country is following a model of cooperation between the government and the private sector for the certification of guides and rafting companies. As well, Costa Rica is an iconic place for rafting in the world due to the beauty of its rivers,” explained Gallo.
Rafael Gallo announces the WWWRS at the IRF World Rafting Championship 2019 in Australia
Costa Rica has positioned itself for many years as a leading tourism destination in sustainability and adventure activities. “We are very proud of the challenge of assuming the headquarters of this Summit, since Costa Rica is undoubtedly the ideal scenario for its extensive biodiversity, the generous endowment of its rivers, and its permanent initiatives to improve tourism,” said Juan Carlos Borbón, Marketing Department of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT).
Summit participants will be able to acquire knowledge and share their experiences of the different rafting practices carried out around the world. Additionally, the representatives of government entities and the creators of standards will be informed about IRF proposals on different topics.
Among the topics that will be addressed at the WWWRS are the advances in guide certifications, the latest techniques of swift-water rescue, the environmental risks that can occur in different rivers of the world, and the need to increase knowledge in first-aid and specialise in emergency management in remote wilderness areas. The use of alcohol and drugs among guides also will be discussed.
“Another very important issue that will be discussed is the language barrier between guides and clients from other countries. For example, New Zealand and Australia are seeing an increase in Chinese tourists who are seeking rafting trips, and clear communication is paramount, especially in the case of an emergency,” Gallo explained.
Summit attendance is expected from more than 250 participants from at least 25 countries. For more information:
Our river family is growing with great news from the welcoming and beautiful community of Villa Pehuenia and Moquehue in Neuquén, Argentina where we held last year’s IRF World Rafting Championship. The event created a buzz in the community and has grown into a demand for learning how to raft. Stepping up to the challenge was Waikiki Rafting Masters (Argentina Masters Men who came second overall).
The new rafting school started this week on Lake Aluminé with participants of all ages coming to take part. Having witnessed the success of the IRF competition, students of the local Mapuche community are now also taking part in the rafting school. Participants are learning about raft racing, recreational rafting and some have expressed interest in learning to be a raft guide.
We asked Martin Miguel Arreseigor, team captain of Waikiki Rafting Masters how he got involved: Continue reading Growing the rafting family in Argentina
Pato River in the background, Rafael Gallo (front) poses with ex-guerrillas Duberney (far left) and Hermides (far right). Centre are Costa Rican guides Max Solano (left) and Roy Obando
A Costa Rican rafting mission led by the company Rios Tropicales and the United Nations traveled to Colombia to meet with a group of ex-guerrillas from the FARC. Teaching them to tame the rapids of the Pato River, in complete peace, was the reason for the singular adventure.
By Alexánder Sánchez
It’s a quiet and a particularly cool night. A pair of crickets hum through the bushes and the river roars imposingly through the mountains. All is good without bullets, all is good without anyone dead. It is a quiet evening in the heart of the Caquetá jungle, a Colombian territory traditionally dominated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known by the Spanish acronym FARC).
Suddenly, a peasant voice sharply cuts the calm and from the first strum of his guitar to a group of Costa Ricans, waiting quietly and expectantly, their soul breaks… “… Today I tell you, brother, I no longer shoot, for the peace of my country, I left my good rifle … Already the bombers cannot be heard coming and the noises at night let me sleep … I am well accommodated, I smile and even talk to soldiers (military) … And my family knows about me …”
Before a softened and “goosebumped” audience, this is how young Freyi sings it. His musical confession portrays his stormy past, but above all, his hopeful present. Freyi is no longer a guerrilla; now he is a powerful rafting guide.
Continue reading Exchanging rifles for paddles: Ticos and ex-guerillas of the FARC
The IRF’s 2019 Congress will be held in the evenings of the 13 and 15 of May, at the WRC 2019 Event Head Quarters in Tully, Queensland, Australia.
Please Note: Proposals to be put before Congress:
Who can put proposals in? Each IRF Member (Full, not Provisional), IRF Executive Officers, and IRF Committee Chairs have the right to submit proposals (which must include detail with reasons and supporting documents) and reports to the Ordinary IRF Congress.
Authorized proposals: Proposals originating from an IRF Member must be signed by their president or authorized representative.
Provisional Proposals: To ensure all members have sufficient time to examine and discuss all proposals Provisional Proposals are now requested ahead of time – these need not be fully detailed yet but are to give the Exec Com enough information so that they can decide whether it complies with IRF Bylaw requirements (more detail below) and so can be included in the Agenda:
- Provisional proposals that request changes to the IRF’s Bylaws must be in the hands of the IRF Secretary General no later than the 13 February.
- Other provisional proposals must be in the hands of the IRF Secretary General no later than the 28 February. Any proposal received after this but before the 7 April will be considered individually and if it is deemed necessary and there is enough time for Exec Com to fully consider it, then it will be included. No proposals will be considered if received after the 7 April.
Procedure after receipt of a provisional proposal – the Executive Committee will determine if it is suitable to add to the Congress agenda. In this capacity the Executive Committee may:
- Ask for additional information or clarification;
- Return a proposal for revision;
- Reject an unsuitable proposal.
Provisional proposals may NOT be included in the Congress agenda if they:
- Do NOT fall under the jurisdiction of the IRF Congress;
Are not clearly written in the English language;
Are not submitted in the correct format;
Are repetitive of existing Bylaws, rules or policies;
Are deemed to be offensive, illegal, or might jeopardize the name, reputation, or standing of the IRF.
Please contact IRF Admin if you have any questions.
#AreYouReady #RaftersAreAwesome #StrongerTogether #WeAreOne #WeAreIRF
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.
Continue reading We are river family – meet Dragan Babic
In our final River Family interview for 2018, we meet Vedat Vural – a pioneer of rafting in Turkey. Before 1990, he worked as a mountain and expedition guide, always getting excited every time he saw rivers carving through the mountains and valleys. It all seemed a mystery. Where does it go? Which places does it go through? What beauties of Nature are offered in its secret valleys? There was only one way of finding out the answer; go with the flow. Vedat had to find a way to travel with rivers in the same harmony, first making his own raft from tractor inner tubes meshed around with fishing net and circular plywood floor. The first test was on Turkey’s Köprüçay river in summer 1988. To put it simply: it failed. Vedat recalled that they just drifted down the river without any control. However, this is when he got the bug. The mission now was to find a proper raft to explore the legendary historical and holy Euphrates river. There were some rafts in Istanbul made for an Austrian company, but the company had changed their mind about buying them. This was their chance. With one of these rafts, Vedat led the first descent of the Euphrates and Coruh rivers becoming a rafting pioneer in Turkey.
What motivates you to keep rafting?
I am in love with Nature. Weather, environment, conditions, crew, rapids are constantly changing. Honing my decision making skills, singing songs all the way. Sharing my experiences with my crew is the highest motivation for me.
Continue reading We are river family – meet Vedat Vural
If you haven’t met Graham “Fredi” Maifredi, you’re either brand new to rafting or been living under a rock for the past 25+ years. One of the biggest characters of our River Family, this week we meet the one and only (and let’s face it the world is not ready for more than one of him!), Fredi. He’s been rafting since time eternal, was involved in Project RAFT, was one of the founding members of the IRF, has his own video series on Youtube, been a raft guide for 28 years, raced for most of those and is Event Director for the 2019 IRF World Rafting Championship in Tully, Australia.
How did you get into rafting?
I started rafting after completing my boiler making/Structural Steel apprenticeship. I had 6 weeks paid leave up my sleeve, and decided to start a guiding course in November 1989 and after completing the course by Jan 1990 I got my certificate. Of the 7 guides that completed the course on the Tully river , two were successful – myself and Radar. The Tully River was crazy busy in those days… 50+ rafts used to run this technical river 300+ clients per day. It was all action and logistics. Such an extreme change to what my life was / used to be in ole Tully town.
Continue reading We are river family – meet Graham “Fredi” Maifredi
Cast your mind back to 1985, now imagine the Persian Gulf, the seaside port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. Somewhere out there on the water is a young Kianoosh Mehrabi! For many years he’d watched videos of white water rafting and kayaking but didn’t know how or where to get into whitewater sports. So he started with many other water sports such as swimming, flat water canoeing and kayaking, water skiing etc, but they weren’t enough for him. They didn’t satisfy his adventurous side so he kept searching for true adrenaline sport.
Kianoosh stepped into the world of tourism in 1996. A little later he joined Ecotour Iran, the first and leading Iranian Ecotourism Center as tour manager. There he found the chance of working with ecotourism experts. At this point he started combining Nature and Adventure with tourism. He loved this job a lot but still it was not enough – because he had less time for his on water activities.
How did you get started in rafting?
I was on a wildlife tour in India looking for Bengal Tigers in 2002. After finishing the tour I had a few days free time so I decided to go to Uttrakhan Province, the holy province for Indians, the origin of the holy Ganges River. It was not only the most famous place for yoga and meditation but also a newly famous place for rafting. I joined a rafting tour for the first time and I fell in love with rafting. I found my real love!
I combined rafting and tourism. It was the best combination! I could have wet adventure and tourism together so I had enough time for both tourism and adventure sport. White water rafting in Iran was a relatively new adventure activity started in 2003 with early expeditions and rafting trips to the Himalayas (India and Nepal) arranged by Kianoosh Mehrabi, the first Iranian raft guide and river expedition leader. Many Iranians had the chance to paddle in the Himalayan Rivers – Alaknanda, Ganga, Trisuli, etc.
After gaining knowledge and experience in 2007 he devised “River Ecotourism in Iran” which was considered by the Iranian Tourism Organizations as a national development plan for the country. The plan was based on River Tourism safety standards and Eco-tourism principals. The main aims were: promoting white water activities in tourism and sport, preserving nature and conserving rivers, empowering local communities by employment and economic development.
Continue reading We are river family – meet Kianoosh Mehrabi