Shane Raw started his kayaking career in 1987 (I was 2 years old…..just saying) and has kayaked in 30 countries spanning over 5 continents. He has attended 2 Freestyle Kayak World Championships and been involved in 3 major film projects. Shane is a very well rounded paddler and his disciplines include expeditions, steep creeking and river-running, freestyle, slalom, canoe-polo and marathons. Shane has been South African Kayak Freestyle Champion several times, most recently in 2014, as well as first overall in the national extreme kayak race series in the same year.
I first met Shane on a kayaking expedition in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. I was very new to kayaking and was a typical “Zambezi boy” with absolutely no experience of anything other than the Zambezi. Creeking was a completely foreign concept to me. RAW Adrenaline had already been going for about a year and a half, and I had a relatively clear idea of where I thought I wanted to take it. I had little money at the time but I managed to gather a few local sponsors to fund the trip for myself and my trusty sidekick (read that as brother from another mother and most trusted friend) Matty Moo. I clearly remember joking with another buddy Matt Love about how I had managed to get sponsors for this trip and how embarrassing it would be if a “Red Bull dude” showed up… you know, a real athlete. Well much to my amusement, the next day when the South African contingent arrived, in walks this dude wearing a Red Bull shirt – Shane bloody Raw ! Now as any obsessive kayaking groupie knows, Shane is well remembered for featuring in the film Halo Effect by Flow State Narratives with Steve Fisher, Rush Sturges and Ben Brown, each kayaking gods on their own; so a little shy and a little star struck I fumbled my greeting and then took a sly pic of him to send to Matt as proof. During the course of that week Shane led 16 paddlers of all skill levels down the Nyamingura, Gairezi and Pungwe rivers.
Seeing Shane in action over that week was nothing short of inspirational to me as a newbie. It wasn’t only his paddling skills but the way he made time for each and every person on the trip. From giving paddling advice to calming nerves. A true ambassador to the sport of kayaking. I knew immediately that he was exactly what I was looking for in a RAW Hero. He had set the bar high. From that moment I knew what it meant to be a RAW Hero. It’s a state of mind, a personality trait, a certain “Je ne sais quoi”. It’s about inspiring others to reach their full potential, to strive toward their dreams, to Live RAW ! After the highlands trip Shane and I loosely kept in touch. I had told him briefly what I was trying to achieve with RAW Adrenaline but not in great detail as I was also still trying to focus my ideas. All I knew was that I wanted him on board somehow.
In January 2015, I travelled to Underberg in South Africa to compete in the Thrombi X Fest creeking race and again met up with Shane. We spent a bit more time chatting about ideas and potential collaborations (I mean come on, the dude’s surname is RAW for god’s sake !) but it was only in September 2015, when Shane came up to the Zambezi and ran the minus rapids with Tyler Bradt, that everything fell into place and he decided to join us as the first official RAW Hero !
Since then Shane has been instrumental in selection of other athletes to join us and has been an amazing sounding board for ideas not to mention a great friend.
Shane it is an absolute honour to have you on board brother and here’s to the bright future we will create and the good times we’ll have doing it!
Check out Shane’s RAWHero Profile here !
You can also follow Shane with #RAWHero #RAWShane
Written for RAW Adrenaline by