A recent breakaway rafting group has caused quite a stir amongst the rafting community. Many in the rafting world are horrified that efforts have been made to splinter the strong camaraderie the IRF has built over the past 20+ years. A HUGE outpouring of support towards the IRF has been received through letters, emails and social media.
In the few hours since we issued our position letter, the IRF has received publicly endorsed support from most of the highly respected National Rafting Federations in the world, including:
- Czech Rafting Federation, New Zealand Rivers Association, National Dutch Rafting Federation, Costa Rican Rafting Association, British Rafting, US Rafting Association, FAJI (Indonesian Rafting Federation), Brazil Rafting Teams (especially the 7 times World Champions), Ukraine Rafting Federation, Australia Rafting Federation, Japan, Rafting of Belgium National Canoe Federation, Athlete’s Committee, Romania, Nepal.
- Most others have informed us they are calling directors meetings and will pledge their support shortly
- All of these rafting federations are democratically run organisations that make decisions that have been approved by their members at a Congress or Assembly, not by dictatorial decree
We urge those unsure of whether to support the IRF to consider the following:
- The IRF was created to represent and defend the interests of rafting before all national and international authorities
- The IRF facilitates the growing needs and demands of the worldwide rafting fraternity through a unified body that deals exclusively with rafting issues and factors that influence the development of rafting
- The IRF actively seeks to include everyone regardless of gender, age, race, politics, religion or sexual orientation
- Dividing the rafting world will have a long term negative effect on the sport and the goals we all have set out to achieve
- Supporting the IRF is directly supporting the fraternity, camaraderie, friendships, skills, expertise, and common goals of the wider rafting community
The IRF shares the Olympic Dream. However, we don’t base our dreams purely on hope – there is so much more to be done than just focus on the Olympic Dream. We will continue to focus on our GAISF / SportAccord application, our hugely popular and internationally recognised and supported race events, our worldwide recognised guide training scheme, our river conservation efforts and all the massive successes we have achieved to date – all with YOU involved and part of the journey. Let’s continue the journey together.
See the IRF Board of Directors response to the splinter group here.
The IRF Board of Directors would like to wish you all a successful 2018! As we move quickly through the first month of the New Year, we want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to each of you – our federation members – for participating in our success for these last 20 years.
Threat to rafting unity
Recently it has come to our attention that Mr. Danilo Barmaz, President of FIRaft (the Italian Rafting Federation, an IRF member), has approached some of our member organizations with an invitation to abandon the IRF and join him in creating another international rafting federation. Barmaz plans to head a meeting in Belgrade, Serbia later this week, and has invited a few IRF members to sign up. Mr. Boris Purjakov, President of the Serbian Rafting Federation, and Mr. Fikret Yardmici, Rafting Vice-President of the Turkish Developing Sport Branches Federation, are assisting him in this effort.
In summary, Barmaz has suggested that our members do the following:
- Abandon the IRF for his splinter group, and accept him as our leader.
- Allow him to copy 99% of our IRF programs and ideas and use them for his group.
- Allow him to run rafting as a quasi-independent part of the International Canoe Federation. (He is very unclear in his information on how this would work).
The invitation included documents containing defamatory and false statements about the IRF, and misleading information and promises that suggest that he will be able to accomplish far more than the IRF has done over the last 20 years — particularly the goal of putting rafting in the Olympic Games. Rather than work with the IRF to reach this goal as we desire, Barmaz seeks to create a splinter group, going completely against the basic concept of sport unity.
Unfortunately, much of what Barmaz is saying and promising is not based on fact. Here are the facts.
We urge all of you to read this information very carefully to ensure you are CORRECTLY informed.
Let us be clear – dividing our sport by creating a splinter group is destructive and counterproductive for rafting. It is a pathway to nowhere. The few sports that have done this have only become weaker, spending more energy and time fighting with each other than working towards achieving their common goals and representing their sport. Barmaz’s proposal is already doing this among a few of our IRF members, and taking valuable time away from other urgent tasks. GAISF and the IOC will only recognize a single federation to represent a sport, and urges all such divisions to unite. We do not wish to waste time fighting with our brothers and sisters within our rafting family. We prefer instead to work together to reach our common goals.
Not all of us can be expected to share the same views, of course. We are a union of thousands of individuals scattered around the globe, all with different customs, languages, politics, and personal goals. However, the IRF was created because 20 years ago rafters recognised that our greatest strength is through UNITY. Regardless of differences, we remain united under a single banner, because we all recognize that with unity comes strength, and a greater likelihood of achievement. We appreciate the passion that Barmaz has for our sport, and welcome him to work with us instead of attempting to divide us. Our door is open to him, as it always has been.
Through YOUR participation and enthusiasm, the IRF is known around the globe as the largest and most important rafting organization in the world, representing thousands of rafting enthusiasts joined together by our common love for rafting. As an IRF member, the IRF is your voice for rafting, run for the benefit of all of us. Our success depends entirely on each of you, and your organization’s active participation. The IRF is YOUR federation. The IRF is you.
The IRF is not simply a group of passionate individuals, it is a set of common ideals and values — created by all of us through compromise and agreement — and set down in writing in our Bylaws. In our Bylaws, we have all pledged to remain unified, working together for the betterment of our sport and for those that practice it.
As a democratic organization, the IRF is governed by our members, for our members. When differences arise between us, any of our members are free to propose to elect new IRF leaders and/or adopt new IRF policies to take us in the direction they prefer as a UNIFIED body. Our hope is that Barmaz and the small group that is supporting him, will continue to honor this basic democratic principle. Our intent is not to disenfranchise or disrespect the views of anyone, but instead to focus our attention on our common goals rather than on our disagreements.
The IRF will not make false promises to you.
We WILL however, continue to work tirelessly for our sport, we WILL continue to work towards achieving GAISF and IOC recognition in pursuit of the Olympic dream, we WILL continue to improve our World and Continental Championships and our Guide Training System and our youth programs, and we WILL continue working on all of the other aspects of rafting (like recreational rafting and river conservation) that our members expect us to do.
The IRF is YOUR organization – a place where real river rafters can come together to enjoy our sport, have friendly but serious competitions, make friends all around the world, and to paddle and protect beautiful rivers. We look forward to having your continued support in the years ahead.
Board of Directors
International Rafting Federation
Many members have recently been approached by Mr. Danilo Barmaz, President of the Italian Rafting Federation (an IRF member), with an invitation to abandon the IRF and join him in creating another international rafting federation.
The invitation included documents containing defamatory and false statements about the IRF, and very misleading statements that suggest that he will be able to accomplish far more than the IRF has done over the last 20 years — particularly the goal of putting rafting in the Olympic Games.
Below is the response from the Czech Rafting Federation which falls under the Union of Boaters of the Czech Republic (SVOCR).
SVOCR letter to Mr. Danilo Barmaz
The IRF BOD will be responding shortly as well.
Rather than work with the IRF to reach this goal, Mr. Barmaz sadly seeks to divide us, going completely against the basic concept of unity, and completely ignoring a large number of the IRF Bylaws that he has agreed to follow.
We urge all members to do proper due diligence before signing up to anything.
One of the recent changes to the IRF Bylaws was the addition of an Athlete’s Committee, and the Chair of this committee would be a member of the Board of Directors (BOD).
This first committee, as per Bylaws, was appointed by the BOD. From next year on this committee will be voted for by the athletes themselves.
The 7 members then voted for who the Chair would be. Here is the list of members of this committee and here are their bios:
- Nikki Kelly (Chair)
- Ales Danek (Vice-Chair)
- Fieke Reijntjies
- Ine Skjorten
- Lucas da Silva
- John Ancito
- Keita Yagisawa
Well done to Nikki and we look forward to seeing what this committee can achieve for the athletes – as a new committee they have the daunting task of getting everything off the ground. Any athletes who would like to make suggestions to this committee can contact Nikki directly. Here is a link to Nikki’s acceptance video for the International Whitewater Hall of Fame award.
As per Bylaw 47 – the duties and election of the Athletes’ Committee is as follows:
- To represent the athletes in the sports related decision making bodies of the IRF.
- To act as a mediator between active athletes and the IRF Organisms.
- To represent the athletes in sport related meetings of the IRF Administrative Committees and Sub-Committees.
- To form the official opinion of the athletes concerning actual issues and to pass resolutions of the athletes.
- To work for the athletes’ representation in the IRF Member Organizations.
- To appoint when necessary, a spokesperson to represent the athletes during IRF Competitions.
- All proposals by the Athletes’ Committee are ratified by the IRF Board of Directors.
- Three (3) representatives from the European Region, two (2) representatives from the Pan American Region and two (2) representatives from the Australasia Region elected by athletes from their respective regions.
- The election shall take place during the IRF World Championships.
- The election process and the counting of the votes will be monitored by an independent individual.
- The Athletes’ Committee Chair is elected from amongst its elected members.
- IRF Member Organizations will be informed about the election three (3) months prior to the World Championships, and the candidates must be presented to the IRF at least 30 days prior to the World Championships.
The IRF will be holding its Congress during the 2017 World Rafting Champs in Japan. All federations have been notified of this already, and sent the Agenda.
Below are the details and links:
- Dates: evening of 4th and 5th October 2017
- Location: Former Nishiu Elementary School Gym, which is the captain’s meeting room at the WRC Headquarters near Miyoshi City, Japan.
- Agenda with links to proposals
- List of nominations received for BOD
- Other meetings – we are endeavouring to hold more meetings during the WRC. However, tranport and timing remain as limitations. We will keep you informed. Meetings we would like to hold, which will be general meetings that all are welcome to attend:
- Sport & Competition
- Guide Trainig & Education
- Assisting potential new members to get started with rafting
2017 World Rafting Championships will be held from the 2 to 9 October on the Yoshino River (Koboke section), Miyoshi city, Tokushima Prefecture.
The 2017 IRF Congress will be held on the 4th and 5th of October, at the same location as the captain’s meetings (Former Nishiu Elementary School Gym). Both meetings are scheduled to start at 6pm, but please keep a close eye on the schedule as times and meeting rooms may change.
Pre-Worlds are being held in Argentina from the 1 – 5 Nov on the Aluminé River in Aluminé and Villa Pehuenia, Patagonia. The organisers are offering free accommodation and meals, transport from Neuquén airport and no entry fee! A great opportunity!
As far as Guide courses and assessments – there are plenty to choose from:
- September you can choose from a bunch of options in Scotland, plus the Zambezi, Zanskar & Indus River and Río Trancura, Pucón in Chile.
- October sees various courses and/or assessments on Ecuador’s Misahualli, Napo and Jatunyacu Rivers, Río Trancura, Pucón – Chile and the Kiarlani River.
- November there’s one in Llangollen, North Wales.
- February there is a Class 3 Safety Craft Workshop (Kayak) in Llangollen again.
- April it is a Guide training, assessment & Rescue 3 whitewater rescue technician combined course also in Llangollen
There are continually courses being added and there should be plenty coming up in the Southern Hemisphere as their season starts drawing near.
2017 is Congress year again – and to ensure as many federations as possible can be represented at the Congress we will, as usual, hold it during the World Rafting Championships.
Dates: evening of 4th and 5th October 2017
Location: Meeting Room at the WRC Headquarters near Miyoshi City, Japan.
Proposals / motions from IRF members or Executive Officers or Committee Heads: need to be in to IRF Admin by NO LATER than the 29 August (with supporting documents). If they are not sent in the correct format they will not be included – so please check with IRF Admin if you are unsure of what this format is.
Candidates for Board of Directors: nominations and details of the candidates need to be in to IRF Admin by the 20 September.
Many of you may have been getting emails from someone called “Nada” and wondering who she is, especially as she asks so many questions! So we thought we’d turn the tables and interview HER for a change! So lets get you all familiar with her –
Team Serbia Women at WRC 2010
Nada – how did you get into rafting?
“I started dealing with competitive rafting in 2006. In 2008 I was in a Serbian team paddling in the back right position. I participated in the Euro Cups in Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and was active paddling at them until 2012. I was also part of the national team at the 2009 and 2010 WRC as well as the Euro Champs in Italy 2010.”
Euro Cup BiH
And you stopped competing – why was that?
“After several unpleasant experiences in the competitive rafting world in 2011, I decided to withdrew from active paddling. But since I’m hooked on this sport and cannot live without it I didn’t stop being interested in what happens in the rafting scene.”
Korana River – Euro Cup Croatia
In 2012 you came to the attention of the IRF due to your keenness to help us find interesting material for our Facebook page and website. How has this involvement grown over the years?
“First I was emailing links of interesting rafting pictures, videos and articles through to the IRF and then I started to write articles about the teams and a variety of other topics. Slowly I became more involved and as they needed someone in Europe to assist with their media program at the events there they recruited me to do even more. My main focus is to help in order to better promote rafting and to encourage the rafting community to be more active.”
WRC 2010 – Netherlands
So if we had to list what you do for the IRF ….
“The key things I do are:
- Write the text for articles about the teams and get the photos for the articles
- Handling IRF media at the events I attend – which means – reporting from the competition with photos, text, video and results.
- Collecting interesting photos, videos and links for the IRF Facebook fan page and help in managing the page.
- Finding and collecting the data of teams that have any kind of representation on the Internet (it would be nice if teams informed us directly about that so that we can put them into our database).
- Monitoring teams all around the world, from their training until after the competitions, and all the fun activities they perform. And to try get to know them better to build a sound knowledge base for writing articles.”
Yes, many of the posts on Facebook are your finds and we do get plenty of compliments from everyone who enjoys them.
Waiting for replies to emails 🙂
What is the most frustrating part of this job?
” Getting replies from the teams!!! After two years of work I have the same number of completed texts as uncompleted texts, because so many teams never answer my questions. Sometimes I wait six months before someone replies to my questions. And sometimes the organizers of the competitions don’t understand what it is I’m doing at the event. The media world is not a known element to them.”
This is a common problem – teams and event organisers under-estimating the power of media and how important it is and how hard it is to maintain continuity to ensure the sport gets out to the public as that is where the promoters, supporters, sponsors and lovers of the sport are.
If you had a message to give to the teams – what would it be?
“I am here to help you promote yourselves and the sport of rafting. To help you in any way I can. To answer your questions, to find answers to your questions, to connect you with other rafters and to keep growing this great sport of ours.
I would really like to see the teams:
- communicate more with one another
- help and support each other
- let us know when they are doing something interesting
- be more active on social networks and not only when they are going somewhere – because there are events throughout the whole year and it would be nice to inform their audiences about it all
- and … do not wait longer than a week before you respond to one of my emails! .. 🙂 ”
So the future – you’ll be attending the R6 Euro Champs in Georgia in May as IRF media representative and a number of Euro Cup events through the coming season. What else is on the cards?
“I am getting back into active paddling and I’d love to be competitive again with my girls team (Serbia Womens Rafting Team).”
How can teams contact you?
“The can get hold of me via my IRF email address or my personal one. Or they can message or follow me on my Facebook page – Nada Rafting. And on Twitter – Nada Rafting.“
You have quietly been doing great work in the background for the IRF – we hope that more people will recognise you now in emails and in person in the future and get back to with answers quickly. The IRF thanks you for all the hard work you do for this great sport of ours!
As mentioned, the IRF is holding a Guide Training & Education Conference for all its GTE Instructors and Assessors from the 19 to the 21 April in Großreifling, Austria. Then there is the annual White Water Rescue Race in the same location: 23 – 24 April followed by a Raft and Safety Craft certification Workshop: 25 – 29 April.
A GREAT chance for Instructors and Assessors to get together with others in their industry and share knowledge, experiences and grow networks while having some fun as well!
Due to the quick expansion of the IRF GTE Award Scheme, we need to discuss the challenges this is causing the IRF and how we’re going to resolve it. To be able to maintain equal and high standards globally, the IRF GTE needs to implement some major changes in the way it functions. We therefore invite all Instructors and Assessors to this conference so as to receive information at first hand and be part of the change process, as well as to maintain the integrity and currency of our instructors.
Photo: Mark Hirst
Key benefits of you participating:
- Apply for your regional assessor status
- Network with International colleagues and IRF GTE Committee
- Stay up to date with the IRF Award Scheme
- Get good deals with equipment suppliers
- Practice your assessment protocol to comply with IRF proceedures
- Stay a few days longer and participate at the IRF Rescue Race and an IRF Raft and Safety Craft Certification Workshop
Photo: Mark HIrst
- GTE Report 2015
- GTE Committee introduction
- IRF Rafting Operators Best Practice Certificate
– assessors perspective (Jim Davis)
- Regional Assessors supervising IRF GTE
– role of IRF Regional Assessor
– applications to become IRF Assessor
- Disciplinary procedures (Gaspar Goncz)
– ethical supervision
– blame against guides
– blame against Instructors
Afternoon: Water based activity: Paddling the Enns – Kummerbrucke section
Photo: Mark Hirst
- Updating the Award Scheme
– introducing challenges (Gaspar Goncz)
– new structure idea (Joe Willis Jones)
– new training standards
- Implementing IRF Event Safety certificates (Gaspar & Joe)
- Update and development of the existing GTE documents
– regional translations
- Introduction of new online administration system (Joe Willies Jones)
Afternoon: Water based activity: SUP down the spectacular canyon of the Salza
Photo: Mark Hirst
- Demo Assessment (Guide, Trip Leader, Safety Craft)
- Closing Meeting
Day 4. Practice, preparation, participation in course design & test for Whitewater Rescue Challenge
Day 5-6. White Water Rescue Challenge
Day 7-11. IRF Raft and Safety Craft Certification Workshop 25-29 of April
If you`d like to add on to the agenda, please send your suggestion latest until the end of March.
Photo: Mark Hirst
There is also an IRF Raft and Safety Craft Certification Workshop 25-29 of April in the same location.
Organizer: Gaspar Goncz (Head of IRF Guide Training and Education Committee)
The IRF has the great honour to present to you Milan Lovrenčič.
Milan’s first World Rafting Championship was the Camel White Water Challenge in 1997 on the Zambezi, where he was the reserve team member for the Bober (Beaver) team, Slovenia, who have been 6 times World Rafting Champions, a record that will probably never be beaten or even equalled! From 1997 onwards he has attended all WRC’s except 2001 (USA) and 2005 (Ecuador), due to his professional duties.
From 1997 to 2005 he was a technical director of the national team. He was also a judge, but there were no certificates for that then.
Up until now he has been an official Judge at all WRC and all ERC. Every one of them! Costa Rica, Chile, South Africa, Czech Republic, South Korea, New Zealand, Brasil, Bosnia, Italy, Netherlands …
Besides that, he has been a Judge at more than 100 Euro Cup races in Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Turkey, Bulgaria and Slovenia.
He has also been Head Judge at several races.
He was President of the Slovenian Rafting Federation from 1997-1999. He is an establishing member and President of Rafting Club Maribor since its first year, 1992.
He has also been “father and mother” of Slovenian Club Teams (there have been U15 boys, U19 girls, U21 boys, 2-3 Open men’s teams and Open women’s teams.)
After 41 years of “professional duty” as a welder and as a Head of maintenance team in a primary school, he retired in 2010 and now he has three grandsons – 5yr old Svit, 4yr old Tinej and 9mth old Jakob. One more needed for a full R4 team! 😉
This is a biography which many of us dream of. In all of this one can see great effort has been invested, but as soon as you talk with him you know the motive is always there, he simply loves rafting and loves his job as judge. (Thanks to Uroš Lovrenčič, his son, for helping us with this article.)
We all greatly appreciate Milan’s efforts in the development of rafting in Slovenia and the
assistance he has provided to others so selflessly; he honestly evaluates each ones mistakes at the gates, it is always good to get together with him at competitions,
listen to his advice and stories from his rich experience, and toast with him in the glory of friendship, companionship and rafting.
The IRF would like to acknowledge and thank Milan for his years of dedication to the sport and for his happy, friendly face that we all know so well at our rafting events around the world.
Thank you for everything, Čika Milane, Tatko… 🙂