Ailsa Harvey


White water rafting is a team sport, involving the navigation of an inflatable raft down the fast, white water of a river. The sport can include risky areas of white water, with different rivers graded with levels of difficulty. Teamwork is essential in balancing and manoeuvring the raft, ensuring the fastest route is taken, and done so safely.

It is an extreme sport when carried out in technical rivers, and mistakes can be fatal. The classes of white water range from the lowest difficulty rating, class 1, with very small rough areas requiring slight manoeuvring to class 6. Class 6 rapids are considered so dangerous that they are ‘not navigable on a reliably safe basis’. Huge waves, large rocks and drops can be expected on these rapids and have proved extremely dangerous in comparison to the lower classes.


The International Rafting Federation oversees all aspects of the sport, including the World Rafting Championships; an exciting event for competitors and a chance to compete on the world stage.

Did you know…

– Commercial rafting became popular in America in the 1960s and 1970s and from there spread all over the world and finally arriving in Scotland in the late 80s.

– Rafting first appeared in the Olympic Games in 1972. The sport was also held at the 1992 Barcelona Games and the 1996 Atlanta Games. Many rafters hope for rafting to reappear in the Olympics in the future.

– The River Tay is Scotland’s longest river and also Scotland’s most rafted river! The main section sees white water action between the town of Aberfeldy and the village of Grandtully. The section is around 6 miles long and has rapids up to class 3.

What do you think of today’s sport? Have you ever been white water rafting?