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Last Friday night was the NFL kickoff event! Now I’m fully aware we still have another five months before the actual NFL season kicks off and this is an article on kayaking and not an article about 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 to rival the National Football League but what it may lack in exposure it makes up for in fun!

The Nottingham Freestyle League has run annually at the National Watersports Centre for several years now. Each event takes place on a different feature during the spring and summer months. This year was delayed due to poor weather resulting in the course flooding. But a delay wasn’t enough to stop the crowds from turning up a few weeks later for the first event of the season.

The league pulls in the best of British Freestyle with big names such as Gav Barker, Harry Price, Rob Crowe, James Ibbotson and Islay Crosby. Despite this nobody takes the event too seriously. It runs with a Jam style heat format and uses a unique scoring system. Everyone is put into categories of 200, 500, 1000 or 2000. The 1000 and 2000 use the usual ICF score sheet whilst the 200 and 500 uses an inventive score sheet made up of old skool classic moves and new skool gems such as the “Harry Potter” and the infamous “Cosmic Donkey”. The positions are scored within their own category and the winner of the league is decided by this, so someone from the 200 point category can top the league table and win the season.

This all makes for a very entertaining and not too serious series of events. I was lucky enough to kick off the event in the first heat, putting up a respectable score and finishing 3rd in the 2000pt category with my new favourite trophy move, the Polo ball throw and catch loop. First time every time 😉 Let’s see if I can repeat it! We even had some deck popping, a C1 paddler competing in a K1 and some swims all taking place in amongst the usual Phonics Monkeys and huge Mcnastys. The crowd witnessed a masterful display of every trophy move that I can think of by Rob Crowe, but the winner of the 2k category was Harry Price who is still competing as a junior. Islay Crosby won the 1000pt category with some superb aerial moves.

If you want to take part, or just fancy coming along to watch the action the next event takes place on the Friday 11th of May. You can find all the info, a bunch of photos and even a short video of last week’s event on the Nottingham Freestyle Leagues Facebook page here;

You’ll also see that yours truly is the current face of the NFL, following in the footsteps of such legends as Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and current superstar Von Miller 😉

Hope to see you all on the water soon!

Photos by Tom Clare Photography