Arriba! Rafael Gallo Named Honorary President of IRF


Commending his decades of involvement, achievements, and integral role in the formation and development of the International Rafting Federation (IRF), Rafael Gallo, owner of Costa Rican outfitter Rios Tropicales, has been nominated as the first Honorary President of the IRF.

The new position was proposed by the current IRF President Joe Willis Jones, and was approved by the IRF Board of Directors as an annex to the IRF Bylaws. The annex states that “The (IRF) Congress may bestow the title of ‘Honorary President’, or ‘Honorary Member’, respectively, upon any former president or member of the Executive Committee for meritorious service to rafting and the IRF … Honorary Presidents shall primarily serve as an IRF Ambassador.” The nomination of Gallo will be considered for ratification at the IRF Congress in March 2019 in Australia during the next World Rafting Championships.

IRF President Jones said he is pleased to have the honor of nominating Gallo in recognition for his years of commitment and service. “Everyone who takes part in the rafting sport today is beholden to the dedication and effort of those that worked to create it. Rafa’s years of service to rafting and to the IRF put us all in his debt. Without Rafa, it is likely that the IRF would not exist,” said Jones.

Gallo is one of the original founders of the IRF. He served as the IRF’s first Vice-president, alongside President Peter Micheler, from 1997 to 2006, and then took over the IRF presidency from 2006 to 2013. Gallo has helped improve rafting safety rules and guide training around the world. He was also one of the first assessors for the IRF, which is the highest level for river guide training certification that allows him to certify instructors, who in turn can certify rafting guides.

“As a founding member of the IRF, Rafa was very integral to waking everyone up to the need for an international governing body for rafting. He has been a strong component of the IRF since it was created and having him as an Honorary President will ensure that the IRF can continue to benefit from his years of experience in the international rafting world,” said Sue Liell-Cock, IRF Secretary General.

“It feels great to have been part of innovation in the rafting world through my whitewater rafting company, Rios Tropicales, in Costa Rica, and become such a leader. I feel lucky to have been in that historic era at the beginning and had the opportunity to lead such an important organization as the IRF with so many people from around the globe. It was a joining of minds from all over the world,” said Gallo.

“IRF has brought rafting to a more competitive level. You see people striving to be athletes and not just river guides, and they love rafting,” he added.