National Student Rodeo 2017 (The Apocalypse)

We’d hyped it up for months. Our team of two from last year had increased to 8 (plus two on safety). The costumes had been constructed. The party tent had been packed. It was time for NSR! Too much or too little water seems to be a common theme for CUCC this year and the run up to the National Student Rodeo, held at Nottingham Whitewater Course, was no different. In the week before there had been so much rain that the course was mostly closed and the situation hadn’t improved by the weekend, forcing the organisers to rapidly re-plan the event for the flatwater. Many were sceptical of an NSR without whitewater: Would the competition still work? Would there still be carnage? Would the safety team still provide as much entertainment as they did actual rescues? The answer to all of the above was certainly ‘YES’!

As a consequence of the rain, the campsite was muddy even before students from across the country descended en masse. Tents were pitched, cars became stuck, some were rescued, others were abandoned, but eventually everyone headed over to the big tent for the first party of the weekend- a great night as always.

Saturday morning was the ‘X-streme slalom’ round in which everyone who was vaguely functioning before midday did a circuit of the lake, performing a different move or challenge at certain judge-points along the way. Particularly impressive was the ‘raft-surf-and-leap’ performed by Helen from a team of Anthony, Chris and Alex, which saw them all (along with Isobel, Kai and myself) make it through to the next round. With Anthony, Chris, Alex and Helen all qualifying in the intermediate and Isobel, Kai and I qualifying in expert, we were all back on in the afternoon for ‘last man standing/paddling’ and flatwater freestyle heats respectively. The duo heats also took place with Anthony and I (although mainly Anthony) charging round to make it to finals, despite fully mounting another duo en route. Andy and Helen had an even more eventful race, possibly involving some swimming, but both came out smiling. However the main event of Saturday was for sure the fancy dress party for which we were well prepared. Working with the theme of ‘The Apocalypse’, a full fleet of cockroach costumes had been constructed, credit to Tamsin for the idea and cardboard! We joined a selection of dinosaurs, nuclear missiles, Vikings (?) and many more creative clubs for another brilliant night.

Sunday was a day of old-school and finals. Andy was unquestionably the most old-school of all the old-schoolers with luminous pink and yellow kit and some spectacular old-school moves which saw him win second place (only beaten by a sneaky whitewater racer who avoided all the carnage…). Isobel and I both made it to expert ladies finals and after impressive performances from all the finalists, I managed to win to retain the title from last year!

Overall it was another fantastic NSR, particularly for CUCC who had a constant presence of competitors and supporters on and off the water, a huge contrast from just two paddlers last year, and were rewarded with some great results! With the keenness for freestyle on the increase, who knows what could be achieved next year!