Just in case it wasn’t apparent yet, I love downriver freestyle. Not much makes me happier than rolling down the river with a bunch of friends, playing every tiny wave, splatwheeling any rock I can and staring skywards.

That’s hardly a unique opinion, especially with the new surge of fancy slice-boats saturating the market. But I find it so exciting to see our amazing community returning to a style of river-running that embraces a more intimate connection with the three-dimensional nature of a flowing river.

It is exactly this love that has spawned my desire to run a downriver freestyle event, a day that celebrates our community and the rivers that we a blessed to enjoy. Read on to find out about how the first ever River Dart Rodeo is going to go down!

At 0900 on Rodeo day, all riders, judges and spectators will congregate at Dartmeet for the pre-competition briefing. For riders, failure to attend this briefing will result in disqualification. Obviously, there are likely to be a large number of us there, so wherever distancing restrictions and space allow, people should share cars to avoid clogging the car-park.

Once the briefing is done, we will hit the river en masse! The competition will be divided into three locations, with a defined upstream and downstream mark. Every rider will have two 1-minute rides in each location, the timer starting as soon as they pass the upstream mark, in which to travel downriver with as much complexity, creativity and fluidity as they can muster. For all of the potential issues of subjectivity, we are deliberately avoiding the rigid scoring systems favoured by modern freestyle, hoping to encourage as the maximum in freedom and progression. Though, for anyone worrying, there will be one judge utterly dedicated to counting who completes the most ends throughout the day!

In between locations, we will share the joy of our fantastic whitewater community, as well as doing some river clean-up. In fact, the river clean-up will also have a competitive element, because whoever collects the highest volume of rubbish during the day will win a snazzy prize too! Personally, I am very much looking forward to watching people try to compete with a whole load of flotsam swishing around in their boats…

For the crafty-minded paddlers among us, there will also be a prize for the most well-decorated vessel/rider. So get creative, bust out the Hawaiian shirts and make yourselves look fabulous!

We are blessed to have some brilliant industry supporters coming down to join us for the day too. The great folks from Immersion Research Europe, Dewerstone and Pyranha will be setting up shop in the Newbridge car-park with a plethora of gear, demos and coffee! Once the competition run is over, we hope to make the most of the water and our community, so grab a coffee, grab a demo and hit the river!

Whilst you are happily enjoying the beautiful Dart, our diligent judging team will be busily beavering away totting up the scores! Prize-giving will take place just before sundown in the Newbridge car-park, where we will crown our men’s, women’s and junior champions, as well as our top trash-trawler and most outlandishly decorated rider.

To keep on top of Rodeo-related developments, keep the Facebook event in your sights. If you’re interested in developing your rodeo game and broadening the competition field, consider booking on for a day or few on my Downriver Freestyle programme.