Christopher Audet

Ever since he sat in a kayak in 1997, Christopher has been passionate about sharing his love of the sport with anyone who will listen. He is an ACA L4 Coastal Kayaking Instructor, an ACA L4 Whitewater Kayaking Instructor, and has earned his BCU 4 Star Award. Christopher is currently the manager of the Jackson Kayak Exploration Team and is a Master Maine Sea Kayaking Guide and a licensed Maine Recreation Guide. Christopher is truly happiest when he’s sharing time on the water with friends and students alike. Off the water, Christopher is the Athletic Trainer and Outdoor Educator for Camden Hills Regional High School and spends his nights as the lead singer in BalancE, a Van Halen Tribute band.


Kevin Beckwith

A professional educator with over twenty years of experience in secondary and higher education, Kevin is based at his home of Beverly, Massachusetts, but loves to paddle wherever there is salt water. After over a decade of sea kayaking, he loves that he still learns something new every time he jumps on the water, both from his students and other coaches. In his coaching and in the classroom, Kevin emphasizes the interplay between body and mind, encouraging students to recognize and strengthen the connections between the two. Kevin is active in New England area non-profit paddling clubs, the American Canoe Association and Paddlesports North America. His qualifications include British Canoeing 5 Star Leader in Sea Kayaking, UKCC Level 2 Coach, American Canoe Association Level 5 Advanced Open Water Instructor, and a registered Maine Guide. Kevin is also a P&H Team Paddler. He operates Rock, Paddle, Surf Kayak Coaching, a professional sea kayak coaching concern based in his hometown.   


Chris Bensch

Chris has a strong passion for the outdoors and helping people access our beautiful world. For the past 10 years he has been Instructor, Coach, and Guide at Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, in Portland, Oregon. He is a BCU Coach and an ACA Whitewater Instructor. Chris also holds a host of Outdoor Certifications, from varying organizations and schools such as San Diego State University and the Wilderness Education Association. Whether it be flat water, a raging river of whitewater, or a clean glassy wave on the coast, he is more than happy to share his passion and knowledge to help you get out there.


Marcel Bieg

I owe so much to paddle sports; my character, passions, personality, relationships and even my life. I have always believed in a balanced life, so for me if I owe something or someone one I better make good on it. This may be by repaying my teachers by continuing their teachings, honoring a mentor by becoming a mentor, or simply trying to convey the joy I have felt within an activity to others who could grow their lives through the activity.

This is why I am so dedicated to Experiential Education and kayak Instruction. I not only want to provide people the opportunity to learn to paddle, but ultimately learn to grow as people, individuals and within their community. The best way for me to do this and insure success for these individuals is learning how to be the best teacher I can be. The ACA has provided me with the tools to be a paddle instructor and the rest of my education has provided me with the knowledge to be a reasonable life instructor. Together I have been able to use paddle sports as the mechanism for growth.

I feel so much passion is missing in our world today due to several factors. I believe art, dance, science, and nature can all aid in reviving some of this passion. Paddle sport is my main instrument in reestablishing this idea and love for life. By insuring that I am teaching to the highest standards of quality has aided in planting this passion in so many students; many of which I would have never connected with without the experiences I have had through my own paddling path.


Michael Bowersox

Originally a native of California, Michael found paddling and his home in the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Learning to kayak in university as a flat-water sprinter, crashing waves, tidal races and the smell of salt led him down the path of sea kayaking. Michael started as a guide in the Salish Sea and San Juan Islands, and grew into instructing and lead the programs of Next Adventure, an outdoor store and school in the hipster capital of Portland, Oregon, for 4 years. However, his love of teaching and drive to be a better paddle sports educator led to latest adventure: graduate school to pursue a Masters of Education. Dedicated to environmental stewardship and the growth of paddle sports, Michael paddles and teaches from a variety of craft to provide new insights and perspectives on water, all coming back to his connection to the sea. He is excited to keep learning and growing as a paddle sports coach, especially in new places and environments, with the goal of tailoring each day to the goals and needs of his students. Simply put, there is nothing he enjoys more than messing about in boats.


Meaghan Brosnan

Meaghan has been in some sort of watercraft since she was old enough to hold a paddle, but it didn’t truly become an obsession until she started playing the Washington coast in 2007. An active duty career as a Coast Guard Officer has exposed her to many stunning paddling locations; she has paddled, toured or surfed the coasts of Guam, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, Virginia, Scotland and California, and many rivers in between. She enjoys sharing the fun of continuously learning with her students. Meaghan is an ACA Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor.


Gordon Brown

Gordon believes that everyone has the potential to achieve more and by ensuring that he cultivates a creative and supportive environment he can lay the foundations for the greatest advances in personal development. Gordon places great value on the importance of taking time to reflect and learn from the experience. Gordon is well qualified and holds the British Canoe Union (BCU) Level 5 Sea Kayak award, in addition, he holds Level 5 Inland Kayak, Level 3 Surf. American Canoe Association (ACA) Advanced Open Water Instructor. WEMSI wilderness first aid. Is on the first cohort of the BCU/UKCC Level 4 award, the academic side of this is being delivered by the University of Stirling.  And, has archived his MSc in Performance Coaching (Paddlesports). He has a lifetime’s experience on the sea and rivers throughout the world. He is the co-owner of Skyak Adventures.


John Carmody

With the exception of a few misguided years a while ago, John has lived on the ocean his entire life. He has been in and around most every type of boat, tending towards the wind and human powered types. Almost 20 years ago, the sea kayak became his vessel of choice, and he has enjoyed adapting his “Big Boat” skills to kayaks. John’s love of the traditions of the sea is infectious as he passes his seamanship and navigation skills on to his students. As a Coach, his understanding of the human body and biomechanics, gives him unique insights into what will make his students more efficient, safer from injuries and better able to enjoy these centuries old craft in more exposed environments. John has led trips throughout Maine, the Canadian Maritimes, and the British Isles. John is a BCU Level 5 sea kayak coach and he regularly instructs at Kayak Symposiums throughout the USA. John is a Team paddler for both P&H Kayaks and Werner Paddles. He owns Sea Cliff Kayakers, a kayak school in Maine.


Don Cheyette

Don runs Seattle Adventure Sports, Seattle's premier adventure resource. He is a passionate outdoorsman, whether leading wilderness survival classes, working with kids, expedition canoeing or surfing the sea. He feels most at home around boats and the water. In 2014, Don completed a 37 day circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. He has been fortunate to guide in Alaska, Patagonia and the San Juan Islands, as well as paddle in Norway and Spain.

Don has managed to work in and explore some unbelievably beautiful places with some incredible people. Don's current leadership and coaching qualifications include: BCU 5* Sea, 4* Open Canoe, the new (UKCC) Level 2 Coach, Moderate Water Endorsement Canoe, and he is a practicing Wilderness EMT. Don tries to blur the line between work and play, and seems to have ended up with a pretty fun line to walk along in his life. He is looking forward to helping you reach your adventure goals. For more info about Seattle Adventure Sports and Don, check out


Justine Curgenven

Justine is an award winning adventure filmmaker and expedition sea kayaker who has been named one of the UK’s top living explorers. She won ‘Media Professional of the Year’ at the World Paddle Awards 2016. Her “This is the Sea” series has inspired thousands of people to take to the water. Justine has been on challenging expeditions around the globe, including traversing 2500 km along the Aleutian island chain, circumnavigating the south island of New Zealand, Tasmania and the Queen Charlotte islands, a solo trip around Vancouver island, a crossing of the Bass Strait and a wilderness journey in Kamchatka with a novice Russian kayaker. She represented England in the world surf kayak championships. Her adventure documentaries have been shown on the BBC and National Geographic Channel and won her awards at Banff, Kendal and Graz Mountain Film Festivals.

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Sean Finigan

Sean's first paddling memories are of Boy Scout trips canoeing down the Russian River. During a triple digit Sacramento heatwave, Sean rented a kayak and was instantly hooked on the feeling of the blade slicing through the water. He progressed from paddling in Sierra Nevada lakes to touring throughout San Francisco Bay. Soon, Sean began exploring the challenging and dynamic open coast of Northern California and is often spotted tearing up the South Fork of the American River. Sean's favorite types of paddling are rock gardening, sea-kayak surfing, and whitewater kayaking. He loves helping students to paddle in dynamic water and sharing his love of kayaking.


Gennifer Gatan

Bit by the sea kayaking bug some nine years ago, Gennifer Gatan now calls the Southern California coasts her playground. She especially enjoys kayak-camping and expedition-style trips, and everything else in between. Gennifer holds a BCU 4* leader award, and is an instructor with the Los Angeles-area REI Outdoor School.


Kim Grandfield

Kim Grandfield’s passion for the outdoors started in the mountains in the late 60s and led to theopening of Sunrise Mountain Sports in 1975. In the 90s, Kim added sea kayaking to the list of adventure sports he participates in and caters to in his retail store in Livermore, California. His kayaking experience includes expeditions in Greenland, Alaska, Baja, Patagonia, French Polynesia, Bahamas and Wales. In the spring of 2016, Kim organized an expedition down the Grand Canyon where he and his friends ran 226 miles of rapids in sea kayaks. He is a BCU 5* Sea Leader and a ACA L5 Kayak Instructor. Kim coaches at the Paddle Golden Gate Symposium in California, The Lumpy Waters Symposium in Oregon and the Baja Kayak Festival. When not traveling, Kim paddles and coaches in the waters around San Francisco Bay. 


Kelly Marie Henry

Kelly is a surf obsessed, rough water loving, paddling fanatic. Her positive energy and enthusiasm for kayaking encourages and inspires both elite and novice paddlers alike. As a coach, she strives to help paddlers of all levels set goals, push boundaries, and find joy on the water. Kelly works full time in the paddlesports industry and currently coaches through several outlets including California Canoe & Kayak and River & Ocean. Kelly is passionate in her pursuit to get more women on the water and offers women’s specific sea and surf kayak programs in collaboration with California Women’s Watersport Collective. She recently assumed the role of Event Director for Paddle Golden Gate and is excited to bring paddlers from across the United States and abroad together to enjoy her home waters. 

In 2017, Kelly began broadening her paddling horizons and embarked on Fearless Formosa a 6-week coaching and sea kayaking adventure in Taiwan. There she shared her love of kayaking with the local community through a series of clinics and month long expedition spanning the island’s eastern coast. Kelly crushed her first year in the competitive surf kayak circuit and as a result represented the United States in the 2017 World Surf Kayak Championships. She holds the following certifications: ACA Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor, Level 3 Surf Kayak Instructor, and a Level 2 SUP Instructor, and is trained in Wilderness First Aid.


David Hicks

David is a sea kayaking coach, guide, and manager of the Kayak Connection in the Monterey Bay on the central coast of California. He grew up playing in the waves of southern California and spent his childhood wondering what it would be like to explore beyond the crowded beaches, which first led him to the world of sailing. He lived on his sailboat for many years and taught sailing in Santa Cruz, but eventually found his way to sea kayaking after failing at outboard engine mechanics and wanting to get closer to the rocks. He spent 10 years as a touring musician while working as a sea kayaking guide on the side, but eventually left the touring life to be a coach and a manager full time with the Kayak Connection where he has worked since 2010. David is a Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking ACA Instructor, and he spends his time training new guides, searching for wildlife, building things, and playing with his kayak in the waves.


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Chris Hipgrave

“Winning medals is good; racing is better; loving the sport is the best.”

Introduced to kayaking while at school, the sport opened my eyes to a World of competition and exploration. That wonder and excitement is still burning stronger than ever today. Fueled by a passion for all things paddle-sports, I’ve competed through out the World in a wide variety of disciplines and explored from the snow capped Bhutanese Himalayas, to South America, Europe, Asia, Australasia and the Antarctic Peninsula, but will always find my way back home to the intimate beauty of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains.

Get out and explore your World. It’s smaller than you think and more incredible than you could ever imagine.


Mathew Hoff

I started guiding sea kayaking in 2008. I had just about zero real training or skills when I landed the job, but the company puts you through a four day of course of how to do everything. I was quite exhausted by the end of that class. We did everything from basic strokes to advanced rescues out of the back of double sea kayaks. Launching off of a beach location, we did a lot of surf zone as well. Well, I was hooked after that. I couldn’t remember having that much fun on the water and I wanted more.

New to the surf, I was very lucky to find coaches and they helped me grow and learn through many beatings. After a short time, I started to do well in local competitions and eventually qualified for the US team in 2011. Since then, I have been lucky to attend the last three World Championships which were held in The Outer Banks, Australia, and Spain.

In 2013, I was fortunate to come on board as an instructor for Kayak Connection. My quality of life has never been better! Through the company I have been able to grow as a kayaker and also an… adult. They gave me the confidence to step up when the founder of the Santa Cruz Paddlefest (SCPF) was looking for someone to take up the torch. I am now the owner and organizer of the world’s largest and longest running paddle surf competition!

When I am not instructing Kayaking, running the shop at Kayak Connection, or planning SCPF, I’ll to be on the water. The Monterey Bay has me truly spoiled for great places to surf and I take every opportunity I can to be out there.


Kenny Howell

Kenny’s journey through the paddling universe began in 1978 on San Francisco Bay in a folding Klepper kayak. Next stop was the Sea of Cortez, and then onward to far flung destinations from Alaska to Costa Rica. From the Hawaiian Islands to Florida's Gulf coast, Kenny keeps searching for the perfect paddle day. "Sometimes, the perfect day is racing across the Molokai Channel on my surfski with 100 other athletes. Another day, it's messing around on SUPs with my kids on an alpine lake, or canoe tripping with friends into a secluded campsite.” For two decades, Kenny wandered the wilderness of the American West and Baja California guiding sea kayak and whitewater raft trips. He has paddled dozens of whitewater rivers in North America and Central America, and once kayaked across the Sea of Cortez from the Baja Peninsula to the Mexican mainland and back (the first known crossing in single sea kayaks). He now enjoys competing in surfski races, especially downwind events. He has won the annual Tsunami Rangers extreme conditions race a few times, and was the first place solo paddler in the 2015 California 100 miler. He works for Epic Kayaks from his seaside home in Montara, California, and teaches surfski clinics wherever there is water.

“I believe paddling is for life, and enjoy sharing what I have learned about paddling efficiently, injury free, for fitness and pleasure – whether for the recreational boater or the serious racer.”


Matt Kane

Matt came up as a teen on the water, sailing for a decade's worth of summers on Shelter Island and as young adult he picked up kayaking and began to explore the shores of Long Island, NY. After relocating to the Hudson Valley in the early 2000’s, while employed as a hospitality sales professional in Manhattan, Matt worked on weekends as guide for a local Hudson Valley Paddlesports Shop and the rest is history. He was soon working with beginner and intermediate paddlers and his passion for on-water education and leadership blossomed. After continued training and a major midlife assessment, he left the pinstripe suits of Manhattan behind for drysuits. He has supported over half a dozen outfitters in the greater Metro NY Areas and has helped to influence and inspire guides, instructors and adventures alike. Matt is an American Canoe Association L4 Open Water Kayak Instructor & British Canoeing Four Star Leader. He owns and operates Prime Paddlesports, the tri-state area’s premier provider of paddlesport adventure; and specializes in individualized instruction. He has singlehandedly developed and executed the Hudson Valley Paddlesport Symposium and prioritizes time with Building Bridges Building Boats and Rye Nature Center’s Paddle Adventure Camp each summer to help develop the next generation of boaters. He is an active Wilderness EMT in the Hudson Highlands region of NY, has served as the Health Director for NYC Outward Bound Schools Field Programs and teaches SOLO Wilderness Medicine Courses throughout the northeast. Matt spends his winters as a Professional Ski Patroller at the West Point Military Academy, where he enjoys watching his young son develop on the slopes.


Mike Kowalsky

Whether exploring the coast, playing in rock gardens or surf, or touring the bay, Mike is in his element when on the water. Paddling since 2009, he is an ACA Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayak instructor dedicated to helping others build paddling skills and safety practices in dynamic conditions, while keeping it fun. When not in a kayak, there is a good chance he is talking about his latest repair or modification on a boat. With his background as a research scientist in the earth sciences, he approaches teaching in the coastal environment with determination and patience. Mike currently teaches through River & Ocean and California Canoe & Kayak.


Paul Kuthe

The Pacific Northwest provides a training ground that rivals those found almost anywhere in the world. It is there that Paul crafts his own skills, as well as those of his fellow paddler. As Program Director at Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, he enriched the paddling experiences had by all who share the water with him. Whether it’s dropping class V creeks or paddling out to surf a big set… combining a love of paddling big water, and traveling deep into the wilderness allows Paul to adapt and excel in varied conditions. Paddling has always been, and will continue to be, an escape, a livelihood, and a way of life. He lives to boat. 

Paul Kuthe came to Alder Creek in 2004 at age 20 as an ACA certified whitewater instructor and worked his way up to the demanding job of Program Director. He credits the BCU (British Canoe Union) for most of his modern coaching abilities. He is a Level III BCU Whitewater Coach and a 5* Sea Leader. He brings 20 + years of participating, teaching, and promoting paddle sports to the diversified job of planning, organizing and directing the educational realm of Alder Creek. Building and nurturing ALL paddling communities by studying many diverse disciplines and improving safety awareness has been a career goal for Paul. Whether creek boating, canoeing, slalom racing, or sea kayaking, he feels a kinship to those who share his passion for our waterways.

These days Paul coaches top performers both on and off the water. He launched his business / life coaching business Tributary Coaching LLC a couple years back. He loves taking the life lessons and wisdom gained on the water into a new realm to help get the most out of business and team leaders across the USA! 


Jeff Laxier

The Mendocino Coast of Northern California provides a rock garden kayak mecca that rivals those found almost anywhere in the world. It is here that he and Cate Hawthorne are the owner operators of Liquid Fusion Kayaking and active members of the legendary Tsunami Rangers. Jeff is a patient instructor, guide and mentor. Jeff has fallen into a passion of teaching and guiding many kayak disciplines, since his start in the winter of 1996. When not teaching, one is likely to find him messing about in kayaks on the sea, running down whitewater rivers, carving in the surf, and trying to pull off another multi-day adventure in Sea~River~Surf environments.


Christopher Lockyer

Christopher the driving force behind the Bay of Fundy Sea Kayak Symposium. It was his vision to have an event run in Nova Scotia to bring paddlers from all over the world  to paddle this wonderful area. The Bay of Fundy is his home and it brings him joy to see other enjoying this area of the world. He has been paddling since the early nineties in locations as far away as the UK, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway as well as countless places in North America. A graduate of Acadia University with a degree in Recreation Management, Chris is currently the owner of Committed to the Core Sea Kayak Coaching. His passion is getting people out onto the sea and using the conditions and natural environment for them to reach their potential and personal goals. He is the only British Canoe Union Coach Level 5 Coach in Canada and is a Paddle Canada Level 4 Instructor and senior Instructor Trainer. Sponsors: “P&H Pro sea kayak team member”, “Kokatat Watersports and “Lendal team paddler”.


JF Marleau

JF lives in Ucluelet on the beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island. This playground provides numerous opportunities for sea kayak adventures like rock gardening and kayak surfing. On the professional level, JF has taught kayaking and guided expeditions across Canada since 1998. JF spends between 100-175 teaching and guiding annually. He is a certified Full Guide Level 4, Guide Trainer and Examiner with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia (SKGABC). He is a certified Level 4 Instructor and Level 3 Instructor Trainer with Paddle Canada.

JF loves to communicate his passion of sea kayaking and use humor as a teaching tool. JF also enjoys teaching kayak fishing and guiding kayak fishing expedition. When JF is not having fun on the water, he runs SKILS. If you have never met JF before, it is easy to pick him out of the crowd, as his strong French-Canadian accent cannot hide him for long.


Ernie Martin

Ernie is a San Francisco Bay Area native whose first and fondest memories are as a small child growing up on his father’s boat. He has been active in water sports his entire life ranging from water skiing and wake boarding to surfing and whitewater rafting. His favorite types of paddling include long boat surfing, playing in tide races, and transitioning through complex surf zones. He has paddled along many stretches of the West Coast from Oregon to as far south as Mexico.

In his classes he is an encouraging and patient instructor.  Ernie has been known to go out of his way to create a comfortable learning environment for his students, which he believes is crucial to the learning process and finding success on the water. Ernie is an ACA Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor, certified in Wilderness First Aid and teaches for California Canoe and Kayak.


Jason Montelongo

Jason was introduced to kayaking as a young boy scout in the Washington area. He began kayaking more seriously and paddling with purpose approximately 13 years ago. With his wife Kasumi, they run the Just Kayak More paddling group in northern California area. Most of Jason's paddling is on mountain lakes and the Sacramento River in sea kayaks or surf skis. He enjoys helping people attain their paddling goals from just starting in the paddling world to completing a major event like the Yukon River Quest. For the last few years, Jason has coached, guided, and supported numerous paddlers training for and competing in the California 100 race. He was even dubbed the “River Ninja” by a fellow paddler. Jason enjoys helping people learn the finer points of paddling and find enjoyment on the water.


Sean Morley

Sean Morley is an ACA L5 Advanced Open Water Instructor, L4 Open Water Instructor Trainer, L3 Surf Kayak Instructor, L3 Surfski Instructor, and L2 SUP Instructor. He is the manager of 101 Surf Sports in San Rafael, owns River and Ocean, and is the founder of Paddle Golden Gate. In 2004, Sean achieved his childhood dream by completing the first solo circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland by sea kayak; the first ever to include all of the inhabited islands. The 4500 mile expedition took 183 days and is the longest kayak journey ever undertaken in British waters. Sean has competed internationally in a number of paddlesports disciplines, but loves nothing more than to share his passion for paddling by coaching new and developing paddlers. He is supported by Werner PaddlesKokatatP&H Sea KayaksHala Gear, and Snap Dragon Design.

Sean provides personal coaching in sea kayaking, surf ski racing, kayak surfing and SUP. He is available to train and motivate your staff in retail sales, guiding and instructor certification.

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Michael Morris

Michael's first forays into kayaking were goal oriented namely fishing, and the kayak proved a versatile vessel in the pursuit of rockfish, ling-cod, salmon, halibut, and so forth. After several years of using a Euro paddle he decided to try something different and carved a Greenland paddle using a $7.00 redwood 2x4 and plans from an old magazine article. The result changed his paddling for good. The Greenland blade immediately felt right and he began to study and learn traditional kayaking technique. This led to his building a couple traditional skin-on-frame boats and carving many more paddles as well as attending seminars featuring some of the leading North American proponents and practitioners of native kayaking skills. While not an “expert” with a Greenland blade Michael has been learning and refining his technique for some years now and is happy to pass on what knowledge he has gathered and set others on this path. Greenland technique is a fluid skill; there is little dogma even among Greenlanders and no “right” way beyond a few fundamentals. One’s competence is always evolving. Michael holds no accreditations, awards, certifications, or merit badges of any kind proving his skill, abilities, or sea sense. He observes, listens, studies, experiences and absorbs lessons from those of superior and inferior skills. He has been paddling the open coast of Northern California for over twenty years in all conditions. Shoulder injuries have curtailed some of his paddling daring but also refined his judgment of acceptable risk. He has some interesting tales to tell.


Martin Ploug

Martin is a Danish paddler, who started paddling in 1995 with a canvas skin-on-frame Greenland sea kayak. For many years, he paddled the Aleutian style canvas built Baidarka kayak and other varieties of canvas built Greenland style kayaks. In addition to paddling them, Martin built skin-on-frame kayaks using traditional techniques. Martin mostly uses a sea kayak to have fun in the waves and surf, but occasionally paddles a surf kayak. He has taught various symposiums in Wales and first became involved with Paddle Golden Gate in 2016 as an instructor. Martin is currently sponsored by Current Design.

Martin  holds the following certifications: BCU Level 4 Coach Sea Kayak, 5 Star Leader Sea kayak, 4 Star Surf, and ACA Level 3 Sea Kayak Instructor.


Gerry Polinsky

Gerry first encountered kayaking by trading his old truck for a couple of Necky Gannets – the crown jewel of recreational kayaking. He was off to the races – tide races that is. Taking advantage of his local New England waters, he began expeditioning, open water training, playing in rocks, surf and races. 

Coming from a background of winter mountaineering and guiding, Gerry embraced the high adventure potential in sea kayaking.  He started Sea Sherpa Kayak in 2009 and has continued to train and progress. His assessments include ACA L5 Advanced Open Water Instructor and BCU 5* Leader (now Advanced Sea Kayak Leader).  His greatest achievement was to be knighted a Royal Pain In The Ass by the vast majority of his peers. He has continued multi day tours including tripping much of the Maine Coast, Bay Of Fundy, Baja, the entire outer coast of Vancouver Island. Gerry enjoys his traveling instructional tour de force working on symposiums and courses in both the Northeast and Pacific Northwest coasts.

Gerry prides himself on working with other paddlers in active open water conditions. He creates a drama free zone through individualized instruction and keeping the chest pounding to a minimum. 


Ryan Rushton

As a resident of Southeast Alaska, Ryan is fortunate to live and work on one of the world’s most rugged and beautiful coastlines. Inspired by the sea, mountains and people he shares the water with, his aim is to help develop boaters to the level where they have their own amazing experiences. Ryan’s approach is student-focused and influenced by coaching at top symposium, leading expeditions along remote coastlines, training instructors/guides and running courses around North America and internationally. “I really enjoy working with paddlers at all stages of their development – helping them achieve their goals – even what they didn’t think possible! No matter how serious you are about your boating, it’s all about having fun, discovering and having an adventure!”


Sou Saephan

Sou began kayaking in 1999, when he started working on the dock for California Canoe & Kayak. He followed the natural progression, became an instructor in 2005, and recently became the Program Director for California Canoe & Kayak. His passion for teaching is not only with kayak education; he has also worked for over 10 years with low income elementary school students in Oakland, Richmond, and San Francisco promoting healthy living, leadership, and cooperation. Sou teaches a variety of classes at California Canoe & Kayak including Kayaking Basics, Beginning Sea Kayak, and Sea Kayaking II. Besides sea kayaking, he also has experience in whitewater, SUP, and Canoe. He believes that the best part about teaching is showing someone a new experience and activity. Sou has taken numerous road trips with a kayak, but his favorite place to paddle is Elkhorn Slough near Monterey Bay. His longest trip was a solo 300 mile paddle from Redding to Oakland, down the Sacramento River. His next goals are to paddle the upper Missouri and lower Colorado Rivers. Sou hopes to continue paddling long into his years.


David Santaniello

After relocating to Santa Cruz, David was immediately drawn to the sea. He soon realized that kayaking would be the best way to explore the rocky and dynamic California Coast, and it quickly became one of his passions. When he’s not coaching, you’ll most likely find him paddling among the rock gardens around Monterey Bay and Big Sur. 

Since completing his Masters in Earth Science, David has pursued a career in paddlesports and is an ACA Level 4 Open Water Sea Kayak Instructor and a British Canoeing Sea Kayak Leader. He is fortunate to be able to share his passion full time by instructing and guiding with Kayak Connection. From leading guided tours and running kids kayak camps to teaching rock garden and surf zone classes, David loves sharing his excitement for paddling and helping others become more comfortable and confident on the water!


Roger Schumann

Roger Schumann Roger is the owner and lead instructor of Eskape Sea Kayaking in Santa Cruz, California. With over 20 years of teaching experience, he’s a regular coach at kayak symposiums on the West Coast from California and Oregon to Baja and Chile, as well as the East Coast and Scotland. His certifications include ACA Level 5 Instructor-Trainer Educator of Advanced Open-Water Kayaking, Instructor Trainer of Surf Kayaking and SUP and Whitewater Kayak Instructor. Roger is the award-winning co-author of the guidebook “Sea Kayaking Central and Northern California” and “Sea Kayak Rescue.” His latest book, “Falcon Guide’s Basic Illustrated Sea Kayaking” was released last spring.


Richard Lee Smith

Richard Lee Smith is an ACA Level 4 Instructor Trainer and has been responsible for nurturing the development of many Bay Area paddlers and instructors with California Canoe & Kayak. Richard has an affinity for Kayak navigation, and loves to share his knowledge with students. As an architect and boat captain, you might think Richard’s obsession with organization and detail would conflict with the variable and seemingly unpredictable nature of the ocean. Yet Richard has a knack for breaking down a potentially complex subject into manageable, easy-to-understand nuggets of wisdom.


Roger Smith

Roger is a native Californian and is blessed to call Monterey Bay his home. He is a web developer, photographer and videographer by trade. He can be found honing his ocean whitewater kayak skills in some of the more challenging rock gardens along the west coast—his playground—the Monterey and Big Sur coastlines. He is often joined by his Neptune’s Rangers brethren. 

Roger recently completed his first night time crossing of Monterey Bay and is looking for the next window of opportunity to immerse himself in that sublime environment. “I love being on the water. It is a meditation that grounds me in an otherwise frantic world. Paddling out on big storm swell days is a favorite of mine. To feel the huge long period swells under my kayak, to be a part of that expression of nature, is really special to me. To experience that in a place like Point Lobos is a gift of magnitudes.”

When not kayaking Roger can be found photographing all-things-kayaking. His work has been published in Paddler eZine, GoOutside and Paddle World magazines.


Mark Tozer

Mark Tozer originates from the United Kingdom, but has now made Lander, Wyoming his home. He has been messing around in all kinds of boats, in all kinds of waters, as an active paddler and instructor for the past 25 years. Mark was introduced to the outdoor life through rock climbing amongst the Peak District outcrops near Sheffield, England and a school trip to North Wales in 1983 began his passion for sea kayaking and mountaineering. These opportunities also inspired his career choice to become a qualified mountain instructor, paddle sports coach, and outdoor education teacher. Mark currently works for NOLS as a member of the Wilderness Medicine Program Team.

Mark has participated in and led a number of overseas expeditions to such places as Alaska, Baja, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Morocco, Tanzania, Kenya and Ecuador as well as completing a doctorate (PhD) in expedition leadership. He has contributed to numerous symposiums across the US and events around the world, as well as published his research and a number of coaching articles.


Bill Vonnegut

If you find yourself paddling on the open coast in the San Francisco Bay Area, you will likely run into Bill. A San Francisco Bay Area native, he has a passion for paddling and extensive knowledge of our local coast. He is an ACA Level 5 Sea Kayak & Level 3 Surf Kayak instructor with many years of practical experience in dynamic water. Bill teaches from experiences gained (good and bad!) while paddling where the Pacific Ocean meets its energetic shores. Years of experience developing his own roll in these waters combined with teaching well over a hundred roll classes makes him an excellent resource if you are looking to improve your roll. Bill especially loves sharing his enthusiasm with new paddlers and the excitement this generates in them toward learning new skills and techniques. He approaches coaching by giving students information relevant to the course at hand and how it relates to real life paddling situations. He teaches independently as well as with River & Ocean Coaching Collective and California Canoe & Kayak. You can find his postings on kayak related topics on several websites including Canoe & Kayak Magazine, The Paddler Magazine and Neptune’s Rangers, of which he is a principal founding member.


Helen Wilson

Helen Wilson is the owner and founder of Greenland or Bust, an instructional kayaking business with a focus on traditional skills. Helen is internationally known for her rolling and traditional skills instruction. She has traveled extensively to Greenland to compete in the Greenland National Kayaking Championship and/or to guide expeditions on the east, south and/or west coasts.

Helen has two DVDs, Simplifying the Roll with Helen Wilson and Yoga for Outdoor People, and has written skills articles and features for several publications; including Sea Kayaker Magazine, The Masik, Ocean Paddler Magazine and Canoe & Kayak. She is on the Board of Directors and the Secretary of Qajaq USA, the American Chapter of Qaannat Kattuffiat – the Greenland Kayak Association, and is the Editor of Qajaq USA’s publication, The Masik. Helen is an ISKGA Coastal Guide and an ACA Instructor with an ACA Rolling Endorsement. She holds the DGI Certification (Denmark coach certification) and is a registered yoga teacher (RYT). She is also the Curriculum Publications Managing Editor and a Field Instructor for NOLS.

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Jennifer Yearley

Jennifer is an ACA Level 5 Advanced Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor, British Canoeing Advanced Sea Kayak Leader (BCU 5 Star), and resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves dynamic water, and loves traveling to seek out new dynamic water adventures. Jennifer is an enthusiastic and creative instructor, always looking for new ways to broaden students’ experience, skill, and knowledge bases. She teaches with the River and Ocean Paddlesports Coaching Collective and publishes in international paddlesports publications where you can seek out her articles on sea kayaking topics. Jennifer’s teaching and guiding schedule is available through her website: Paddle Towards It.


Laura Zulliger

Laura has kayaked for over 13 years, with over 10 years of coaching experience. She got her start in the Pacific Northwest, honing her skills in southeast Alaska, coastal Georgia, and coastal California. She’s an ACA-Certified Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor and multi-craft paddler. Laura teaches whitewater kayaking, canoeing, and kayak rolling in addition to a range of coastal kayaking skills. Currently, she lives in San Francisco and loves to explore California’s rocky coastline and beautiful rivers. In spring of 2017, she and fellow coach, Kelly Marie Henry, embarked on a 6-week adventure in Taiwan in which they paddled the East Coast of the island nation.