Get To Know Our RiverRoos

The RiverRoos are our Australian Rafting team and have just come fourth at the International Rafting Federation World Rafting Championships! We decided to check-in with rafting athlete Sia Kanellopoulos to learn all about the sport and the recent achievements of the team. Here’s what she had to say…

Tell us a little about the team and how the sport works

The River Roos are a whitewater raft racing team of 5 women. We have just competed in the R4 2022 International Rafting Federation World Rafting Championships in Bosnia and Herzegovina which included four different race events on grade three whitewater - Slalom, Sprint, Head-to-Head and Downriver.

Our team captain Ashleigh Smith started the River Roos in January 2022 to compete in the National Rafting Championships. The other team members are Amy Rella (Frankin River rafting guide), Emma Johnson (17 years whitewater kayaking experience), Charlotte Bond (outdoor educator and commercial raft guide) and me, Sia Kanellopoulos (outdoor educator and raft guide).

We are all adventurous souls from all walks of life. The love for rafting has brought us together and now we are not just a team but family.

What was it like competing in the World Rafting Champs?

It was absolutely amazing competing in the World Championships. The people who are part of the rafting community are incredible - the passion, joy and comradery is the best. Rafting is such an amazing sport. We are so privileged to have competed in our first international competition and we are stoked to have come 4th overall. We came 3rd in Sprint, 3rd in Head-to-Head, 2nd in slalom and 9th in downriver. I would like to thank and honour the other strong and inspiring open women's teams charging hard and having fun during this comp. We had 14 different teams in our category and each team was full of incredible women. I am so proud of them all.

What was the highlight of the trip?

The Aussie crew had three teams; the Under 23 Men's, Open Women’s, and Open Men’s. The best part of the comp was being one big family, taking care of each other and creating the best support network. Community is the best. Just before the slalom race the feeling of joy and being welcome was incredible; the other teams were always smiling with us, and the organiser told us that we were their favourite team because of our spirit. If there is one thing the RiverRoos wanted to achieve in this competition, it was to have fun with everyone – and we certainly did!

What are the goals and aspirations of the team? Where to next?

Next year we are super excited to give the competition our all. We now know what to expect so next year we will be better prepared for the specific disciplines.

Ash and Charlotte have gone home to do a snow season in Australia. Amy, Emma and I are travelling around Europe chasing the white-water rivers in Slovenia, Norway and Iceland!

What advice do you have for women and girls who want to learn more or start rafting themselves?

Don't be afraid to step out of the box - the best thing I ever did was go against the grain and follow adventure and my passion instead of getting a full-time office job. My work is now flexible, and I can work, travel, and compete in world sporting events. It is never too late to start a sport, change your career, or go on adventures.

If you are interested, you should look out for traineeships for rafting or get out into nature and learn the rivers. If you have a thirst for adventure, paddling can send you around the world. The number of female paddlers is growing, and they are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. You can travel the world rafting; the community is so welcoming. Rafting provides unique opportunities to experience incredible rivers all around the world, working with other passionate outdoors people.

Tuesday 21 June, 2022

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