National Student Rodeo

National Student Rodeo is a freestyle kayaking event in the UK hosted by Leeds University Canoe Club. The National Student Rodeo is now the biggest freestyle kayaking competition in the world, with 670 entrants and over 1000 party goers from 36 universities in 2008. It is held annually at Holme Pierrepont (HPP) National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.


Despite the highly demanding nature of organising events such as this, the National Student Rodeo has always (and always will) be organised and run by a group of willing and enthusiastic volunteers. The 'Rodeo Bosses' are responsible for not only booking the venue and getting universities to turn up, but also arranging camping, finding sponsors, promoting the event and organising the myriad other jobs necessary. Event safety, first aid, judging, commentary, bar staffing and general 'gophering' are all dealt with by happy, enthusiastic members of LUUCC, River Legacy and other volunteers.

The focus of the competition has always been on the "fun" aspect of the sport, in order to encourage participation from novice paddlers. This is mirrored in the prize-giving ceremonies, where the best prizes are saved for the novice and intermediate categories. However this is not to say that competition in the expert finals is not fierce. Many of the UK's best freestyle paddlers have competed at the event, former and current GB Freestyle Team members, loads of sponsored team paddlers and even more up-and-coming talent. The now legendary NSR parties were thoroughly compered and DJ'd to death by the Extreme Events crew, with waffle, banter, gibberish and occasionally the odd bit of useful information from DJ's Al, Shifty, Disco Dave and Tea Boy Tom. Extreme Events retired from the Rodeo in 2016 after a decade of brilliance.

The 'National Student Rodeo' name harks back to the olden days of kayaking, when freestyle was referred to as 'rodeo'. Although a renaming was briefly considered in 2004, 'The Rodeo' has stayed true to its roots.


The core events for the competition are as follows:

  • Extreme Slalom - All competitors for K1 and C1 (Men's and Women's) enter this event to be seeded for the heats.
  • Men's Novice K1
  • Men's Intermediate K1
  • Men's Expert K1
  • Women's Novice K1
  • Women's Intermediate K1
  • Women's Expert K1
  • C1
  • Squirt
  • Topo Duo
  • Open event

A "King of the Wave" invitational event was held in 2006 but this has not been continued - Jon Fuller remains the official NSR King of the Wave.

NSR MMX (2010) saw the introduction of 2 new events: 'Old Skool' replaced the traditional Open event and saw competitors hotdog it out in boats and kit pre-2000 with Dave Burne of York coming out on top. There was also in the introduction of the "Kukri Sofa Cross" which saw 80 competitors race down the course at Holme Pierrepont on inflatable sofas.

The 'Rodeo Rabbit' has made many appearances at NSR.

While the competition takes up the daytime schedule of the Rodeo, most students attend for the parties that take place on the Friday and Saturday night in the rugby club and marquee. While Friday night sees most of the universities arriving on site around 8PM, there is still plenty of fun to be had, and the bars stay open until 2AM. However, Saturday is the big party organised by River Legacy, and sees all of the participants in their fancy dress finery attending. The festival atmosphere and legendary parties earn the Rodeo its place as the best student kayaking event of the year.

Other highlights of the weekend include 'Up-time': the time of day when all competitors are woken up from their slumbers (normally with the aid of a megaphone) to make sure that they attend their heats and fit into the hectic schedule that results from the fact that the organisers must fit in time for nearly 700 competitors to have at least two runs down the course.


Long-term sponsors of the NSR include PGL, Desperate Measures canoe and kayak shop, Palm Equipment / Dagger Europe and Pyranha. Many of the sponsors donate hugely both in terms of money and prizes for the events, as well as providing food for the volunteers, supporting equipment for the Safety team, and essential supplies for the First Aid team.


Due to its growing size and reputation, the media presence surrounding the event has also evolved. For example, in 2007 the event was trailed online with several humorous videos which can be found here. The 2008 event was filmed by Liquid Satisfaction and was sold as a DVD. This has since been released as a free podcast and both can be found at The event has also been covered by Canoe & Kayak, Kayak Session, and The Paddler magazines.

Local news broadcasters have also covered the event - one such report can be seen here.


Year Event organiser(s) Overall winners Colour Party Theme Official T-shirt slogan(s)
2020 Matt Wallace and Kate Loveday Nottingham Games Night
2019 Ruby Pelling and Chloe Ryan Notthingham Turquoise & Purple A Journey Through Time
2018 John Docherty and Amie Shute Event cancelled due to snow! Green Countries of the World Rodeo Makes The World Go Round
2017 Beth Preston and Struan Fishburn Nottingham Blue The Apocalypse
2016 Rhys Williamson and Simon North Nottingham Red Christmas ?
2015 Simon North and Sarah Waddington Sheffield Blue / Turquoise Carnival ??
2014 Andy Canavan and Sam Newman Nottingham Blue Heroes & Villains ??
2013 Tom Oram and Harry Grace Nottingham Red Circus ?
2012 Beth Morgan and Jake Ward Southampton Green Jungle ?
2011 Nicola Underhill and Jethro House Nottingham Orange/Yellow Beach Party ?
2010 Andy Jaunzems and Peter Haynes Leeds Purple Ancient Civilizations ?
2009 Luke Farrington and Paul Wilkinson Leeds Blue Space ?
2008 Tim Trew and Nick Horwood Nottingham Trent Green Pirates Yarrrrrrr
2007 Adam Dumolo and Sara James Leeds Red Wild West The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (three separate designs)
2006 Sara James and Sam Ward Sheffield Ginger '70s ?
2005 Tim Stevenson Loughborough Blue Bad Taste (Regular) Its a rodeo Jim, but not as we know it / (Judges) Those who can, do. Those who can't, judge / (Safety) Don't you worry, its going to be all right
2004 Kirsty Archibald Leeds Green School Disco Lick my deck / Rodeo at its breast
2003 Will Hemming Leeds Yellow Gangsters & Molls I used to be a rodeo champion but my horse drowned
2002 Will Hemming Leeds Black No theme, just a big party in a big field nowhere near HPP! ?
2001 Ian Wood and Karen Evans Event cancelled due to Foot and Mouth - - -
2000 Steve Blagg and Lynne Wallis ? ? ? ?

1999 - ??

1998 - ??

1997 - Arran Stephenson and Rachel Sutton

1996 - Arran Stephenson and Paul Shelly

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • "National Student Rodeo".