Michael Shaw gives us the lowdown on the glitz and glamour that is the Nottingham Freestyle League
The NFL season is back! Now I’m fully aware we still have another five months before the actual NFL season kicks off and that this is a website all about kayaking and I should not be writing an article where I indulge my love of an entirely different sport.
So why am I talking about the NFL? For those that don’t know, the NFL is the Nottingham Freestyle League. It may need to grow somewhat in size to rival its bigger brother, the National Football League but what it may lack in exposure (up until now) it more than makes up for in fun!
The Nottingham Freestyle League the brain child of James Ibbotson (Ibbo) is now in its fourth season and runs annually during the spring and summer months at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham. Each event takes place on a different feature on the course. If you’re not sure what the course is like or what the features are then check out the handy guide to Holme Pierrepont that appeared in last month’s Paddler magazine.
This year’s kick off event was a star studded affair, featuring multiple world medalists, two current reigning world champions, several big name European paddling stars as well as the very best of British freestyle. Not to mention many novices and junior paddlers excited to try some moves and raise some cheers from the crowd.
Despite the strength of the competition, nobody takes the event too seriously. It is a chance to enjoy oneself through the fun of competition that keeps the athletes coming back year after year.
This makes for a very entertaining and not too serious series of events. I was lucky enough to kick off the event as the first paddler in the first heat, putting up a respectable score. The crowd then bore witnessed to many more magnificent freestyle routines by home grown talents and international superstars. Felix took the win in the 200 points category, Mandy Chan was beyond happy with her victory in the 500 point category.
Ottie Robinson Shaw threw down in the 1000 point category with a whopping 1550 points. The 2000 point category was hotly contested. In the end the masterful paddling of Rob Crowe showing off every trophy move in the book scoring a staggering 3730 points. Harry Price finished second with 2985 closely followed by the two French superstars Sebastien Devred and Tom Dolle.
If you want to take part and join the action or just fancy coming along to watch then have a look at the calendar of events to see which ones you can make.
Hope to see you all on the water soon!
The NFL runs a series of heats in a ‘jam’ format. Where each participant takes turns on the feature, fitting in as many rides as possible until the heat time limit is reached.
Upon entering everyone is put into categories of 200, 500, 1000 or 2000 based upon previous experience and skill level.
The 1000 and 2000 use the standard International Canoe Federation (ICF) scoring whilst the 200 and 500 use a unique inventive score sheet made up of old skool classic moves and new skool gems such as the ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Cosmic Donkey’ and the now infamous ‘reverse Cosmic Donkey’.
Each category will have its own winner, with poiints awarded for finishing position. The winner of the league is decided by this, so someone from the lowest 200 point category can top the league table, win the season and take home the championship belt.