It is little known that great credit for the development of rafting as a sport, first on the Vrbas River, and since this championship on the Tara River, belongs to a man from distant Costa Rica, the late Rafael Gallo, whom we lost last year. This great lover of rivers was a participant in the first major sporting event in this sport back in 2005, when the European R-4 Championship was held on the Vrbas. Then he was in the role of the chief judge and became a great friend of one of the founders of rafting as a sport on the Vrbas, Aleksandar Pastir, the director of race at this year’s World Championship.
– At that time, the World Rafting Organisation sent him as the chief judge to Banja Luka, and the two of us quickly found a common language. He was delighted with the river, the hospitality of the people, the proximity of the city, but also the fact that in those days, while the competitions lasted, practically every inhabitant of Banja Luka lived for rafting. It was unusual for him then that there were not many swimmers in our beautiful Vrbas and he asked if he would like me to swim a little with him. I agreed and since then we have become great friends – said Pastir.
During the next competitions at European and world level, which were later organised by the rafting club Kanjon, Gallo and his wife Alejandra were regular guests to Banja Luka, especially when he became the president of the World Rafting Federation (IRF).
– Since then, we have hung out at every big competition around the world, and I was his guest in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, he lost the battle with the disease last year and passed away, but it is certain that he will forever remain the good spirit of Vrbas and one of the most deserving people that in less than two decades rafting became not only known as a sport, but also a recognisable brand of the river Vrbas and Banja Luka – added Pastir.
This championship will not pass without the Gallo family name, as the son of the late Rafael, Roberto will be a guest the rafting club Kanjon.