Rafting - Overview


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Rafting is a sport in which rafters use an inflatable raft to race with other teams. The team that reaches the destination first wins the race. The racing is done on white water or rough water of different degrees. The rafters use double blades to paddle the boat.

Rafting should not be confused with canoeing, kayaking, rowing or dragon boat because all these variants use different boats and they have different sets of rules.

Rafting and Canoeing

This is a sport in which either an individual or a team can participate. Here one needs to race by rafting. Similarly other participants will also be chasing. The participant whose raft touches the finishing line first is declared as winner. Both men and women can participate in this sport.

Difference between Rafting and Canoeing

  • In rafting, inflatable rafts are used while in canoeing, boats are used which are pointed at both ends.

  • In canoeing, a leader decides in which direction the boat has to go while there is no such thing in rafting.

  • In canoeing, the leader tells the player at the back to turn the gear to a desired direction while in rafting all the team members are responsible to change the direction and balance the boat.

Difference between Rafting and Kayaking

  • In kayaking, the boat is covered with deck while the boat used in rafting is open boat.

  • Kayak is moved by double-bladed paddles while a raft is moved by single-bladed paddle.

  • Kayak is made up of plastic while a raft is made up of any material that is buoyant. The material mostly used is PVC.

A Brief History of Rafting

In earlier days, people used to transport things using rafts, hence the name of rafting came into the picture. In 1842, Lieutenant John Fremont of the U.S. Army first introduced rafting expedition on the Platte River. In ancient days, rafts were made from rubber cloth tubes and a floor.

In 1960s, white water rafting became more widely recognized and white water rafting companies were established. In 1970s, white water rafting made its major changes as leisure sport when it was included in the Olympic Games. In 1980s, as the popularity of rafting was increasing gradually, number of independent companies were started throughout Scotland, South America and Africa.

In 1990s, rafting was included in major events like the Barcelona Games in 1992, Atlanta Games in 1996, and the white water events of the Summer Olympic Games hosted by Ocoee River in Tennessee Valley. The International Federation of Rafting (IRF) was established in 1997. In 1999, the first Official International Championship was held.

Nowadays, white water rafting is still gaining a huge number of popularity.

Participating Countries

Rafting comes under water sport. Since its inception, the popularity and demand of this sport by different nations grew exponentially since 1997 after instituted in International Federation of Rafting.

Many Asian and Non-Asian countries have their active participation in this sport. Countries like India, Morocco, Bulgaria, Nepal, France, Wales, Switzerland and Scotland have dominated other countries in this sport. The countries that organized the championships of rafting are as follows −

Year Host Country
2015 Indonesia
2014 Brazil
2013 New Zealand
2012 Czech Republic
2011 Costa Rica


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