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Coaches

These Coaches represent some of the most qualified and innovative coaches any where in the kayaking world

Todd Wright

Todd has worked in outdoor pursuits and education for over 18 years, is  the Director of the Saint Michael’s College Wilderness Program which offers training, assessment and expedition programming in sea, surf and whitewater kayaking and is a team paddler for both P&H Kayak and Werner Paddles. Todd actively teaches coastal kayaking, whitewater and surf kayaking throughout the United States.  Kayaking and mountain sports have afforded him the opportunity to paddle, climb and ski throughout North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.   For Todd, paddling and development of paddlers is not just a career and passion but an honor; “it is a great honor to be present when a student makes the connection, whether it be figuring out a particular skill or simply developing a relationship with the water”.  His credentials include, British Canoeing Coaching Diploma/ UKCC Level 4 Coach, British Canoe Union Level 5 Coach, American Canoe Association L:5 Advanced Open Water Instructor Trainer, L4 Open Water Instructor Trainer Educator, L4 Surf Kayak Instructor, L4 Whitewater Instructor, SOLO Wilderness Medical Educator in addition, he holds guiding and instructor credentials in the climbing and ski disciplines.

Jen Kleck

Jen is co-organizer with Victor Leon of the Baja Kayak Festival. She lives north of the border in San Diego where she has owned and operated sea paddlesports companies for over 20 years. Jen acheived the highest coach ranking within the British Canoe Union in Nov. 2007 when she became the first American Level 5 Sea Kayak Coach. She also holds BCU 5 Star sea, 4 Star surf, and 3 Star open canoe awards. She appears in Cackle TV Productions "This Is The Sea 4" at our festival site. Jen  loves to challenge herself with all types of kayaking: she has raced, competed in kayak surfing, run the Grand Canyon, and was a member of the 1999, 2000, and 2003 National Champion women’s kayak polo teams. Jen has enjoyed messing about in small boats since childhood in New Hampshire. She has a BA in geology from Colorado College and enjoys natural history of all sorts.

Josh Hall

Joshua has been paddling and teaching for over 20 years for Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission, an American Canoe Association Pro School, where her serves as the Outdoor Program Manager.

A native Rhode Islander now living in Charleston SC, Joshua has a long history on the water working in all three domains. Joshua has worked as a commercial lobsterman in Block Island Sound and has been racing sailboats since a young age, which he continues to do in SC.
  
Joshua is most happy when he is teaching in the outdoors and sharing his knowledge with both youth and adult. His coaching adventures have taken him all over the continental US, Hawaii, Europe, and Japan. Josh’s credentials include: American Canoe Association (ACA) L5 Advanced Open Water Instructor Trainer Educator, ACA L3 SUP Instructor Trainer Educator, L-2 Canoe Instructor Trainer, and ACA L4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor. He is also endorsed as an ACA Traditional Skills and Adaptive Paddling Instructor.

Steve Maynard

Head Paddling Instructor, SUNY Platsburgh. Steven started kayaking more than 20 years ago on remote sea lochs in North West Scotland. Since then he has paddled, guided and instructed extensively in the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe and North America. Steven holds qualifications in many adventure sports, including sea kayaking certifications at the highest level from the British Canoe Union and American Canoe Association. Steve enjoys nothing more than helping people improve their understanding of technique and environment to make stronger safer paddlers.

Ben Fothergill

Born and raised in the wild west of Wales. From a young age he has been out adventuring with family and friends. He has spent most of his life in or on the sea and playing in the mountains and rivers of this amazing country.
Ben has worked in Pembrokeshire for the last 5 years as an adventure guide for numerous adventure providers.

 

Alongside his passion for sharing with others the wonders of the outdoors Ben has continued to work self-employed as an ecological surveyor and studied Ocean Science for an undergraduate degree.
Ben currently holds his 5 star sea kayak leadership award and is currently working his way through the coaching awards to gain his Jedi status (like Nige and Martin).
Ben as paddled and adventured his way around parts of the U.K. and further afield to New Zealand, the Seychelles, Maldives, United states, South Pacific and Greenland.
In his spare time he’s mostly found surfing around the U.K’s wild coastline or hitting the crags and mountains with his adventure buddy/wife Rachel.

It’s great to have Ben on board and looking forward to a season with a little less rain !

Carl Ladd

Carl co-founded Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures with his wife Samantha in ’01 as a sea kayaking / environmental education school. He spent five seasons in the desert southwest teaching desert ecology, environmental and experiential education for the Boojum Wilderness Institute. He also spent four seasons studying and teaching tropical marine ecology in the Sea of Cortez and the British Virgin Islands. Carl has been teaching kayaking skills, rescue and safety to school groups, private organizations, individuals and instructors since ’95. He has taught outdoor skills ranging from backpacking, back country skiing, rock climbing, high angle mountain search and rescue and sea kayaking since ’91. He received his Degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College in 1991.

Russell Farrow

BCU 5 Star Training/Sea Kayak

BCU 4 Star Award/Sea Kayak

BCU Level 3 Coach/Sea Kayak

BCU Level 3 Coach/Surf (Aspirant)

BCU Three Star Award Canoe

ACA L4 Sea Kayak

ACA Coach IT Aspirant

TSRA Certified Solo Open Boat

Wilderness First Responder
Russell owns and operates Sweetwater Kayaks and is the power behind the annual Southeast Sea Kayak Symposium. He coaches at Symposia all over the US
He has paddled in Florida (all over the state), the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Mexico, San Diego, Deception Pass, Washington, Alaska, Scotlands’ Outer Hebrides, Wales, Cornwall, Alaska and many places on the east and west coast of the United States.
He and his “Team Sweetwater” won the IR Vacation to Hell grant, and in the summer of 2008 paddled in the High Arctic of Canada’s Baffin Island.  A DVD and presentation has come out on that expedition.
He has written articles for Canoe Focus Magazine as well as developed paddling and adventure DVD’s.


 

Oisin Hallissey

Man of few words as evidenced by his staff page at work. Oisin is the Head of Paddlesports at the Northern Ireland National Outdoor Center at Tollymore, NI. Anyone who gets to work with him will remember the experience for the remainder of their paddling career and be that much more prepared because of spending a day on the water with Oisin!

Gerry Polinsky

Gerry Polinsky’s interest in outdoor adventure began with winter expeditioning the mountains of New England on skis, snowshoes and crampons. He progressed to a freelance stint as an instructor based out of the Sierras and Cascades, with personal trips taking him to the Rockies, The Yukon, BC and The Himalayas. After trading an old truck for a couple of kayaks, he began camping frequently along the coast of Maine with side trips to Ireland, the Pacific NW, Canadian Maritimes and The Baja. In 2009, Gerry founded Sea Sherpa Kayak which is a part time kayak instructional business based on the CT/RI coast. Those waters offer lots of fantastic surf, current play and rock gardening opportunities..
Credentials include NOLS Winter Outdoor Educator, SOLO Wilderness First Aid, ACA Level 5 Advanced Open Water, BCU  5 Star


 

Caroline Zeiss

Caroline Zeiss spends far too much time watching small birds negotiate moving water.  Even though she has held a BCU 5 Star Leader Award for some time, she still thinks she has a thing or two to learn from the birds.  Caroline is interested in teaching technical aspects of boat control that are effective in rough water conditions.  While strokes in rough water are no different than those in flat water, their application must be adapted to accommodate a more dynamic environment. Learning how to channel the forces of water to create useful boat movement begins with strong flat water fundamentals. The intent here is to develop kinesthetic awareness of what effective boat control feels like. Translating this to rough water conditions integrates body movement with the forces presented by moving water and wind. Skills may be differently applied in tidal races, surf, and rocks. The goal is to achieve unity of movement with water and boat, with the least effort possible. Just like the birds.

Caroline is a small craft omnivore and enjoys sea kayaks, surf boats, surfskis, river kayaks, canoes and small sailing dinghies. Her home waters are Long Island Sound and Rhode Island. She particularly enjoys small boat surfing and paddling the tidal races around Fishers Island. She has paddled all along the east coast of the US, Wales, Norway and New Zealand. Caroline is a freelance sea kayak instructor and has taught at many of the kayaking symposiums in the northeast. She also runs an annual Adirondack canoe retreat with the Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, New York.  Caroline is SOLO Wilderness First Aid trained.

Ron Gautreau

Ron has been messing around with various types of boats his whole life and has been sea kayaking for 13 years. Ron holds an ACA Level 5: Advanced Open Water Kayaking certification, a BCU 4 Star award, is a BCU 5 Star Aspirant and has SOLO Wilderness First Aid certification.  Ron resides along the Long Island Sound shoreline in Connecticut and enjoys getting out on the local waters as often as possible. In particular Ron enjoys playing in the moving waters and tidal races around Fishers Island in the eastern Long Island Sound.  Ron has paddled all along the east coast of the US from Florida to the Canadian Maritimes as well as in Anglesey, Wales. In addition to kayaking Ron is often out on the water in the Thimble Islands in Branford, CT working as a commercial fisherman on the first three-dimensional aquaculture farm in the US growing oysters, mussels, scallops and seaweed.

 

Rob Lemmon

Rob is an career outdoor adventure instructor. Teaching at the college level for 20-years. Rob holds Instructor-Trainer certifications with Paddle Canada in Canoeing/SUP/Sea & River Kayaking. Rob is also an active Wilderness First Aid Instructor, Swiftwater Rescue Instructor, BCU 4-Star, and Climbing Instructor. Rob makes his living with his year-round outdoor adventure business, Maritime DayTripping, in New Brunswick, Canada, and as an Adjunct College Instructor with the Adventure Recreation & Tourism Program at Washington County Community College in Calais, Maine. 

Bill Vonnegut

If you find yourself paddling on the open coast from San Francisco to Oregon, you could possibly run into Bill. He has a passion for paddling and is an ACA Level 5 Coastal 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 in these waters combined with having taught well over a hundred roll classes makes him an excellent resource if you are looking to improve your skills. 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. You can find his postings on kayak related topics on several websites including Canoe & Kayak Magazine and The Paddler Magazine

Nigel Foster
There isn't much you can say that doesn't express the expertise with which Nigel shares his knowlege of the sea and sea-kayaking. We all owe a bit of our skills to the one who first shared his magic with us through his books, videos or just chatting over a beer! He is the man!
 

Rachel Bott

Adventure Guide BA Marine Biology and Oceanography, MSC Conservation Biology Rachel has always had a passion for sports and the marine world and after graduating with a degree in Marine Biology and Oceanography decided to travel the world where she discovered her calling as an outdoor instructor. After spending time working and living in the Caribbean, New Zealand and Australia Rachel decided to settle in the beautiful city of St Davids where she now balances her time between leading adventures on the Pembrokeshire coast and working as a research biologist for the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme.

Jeff Forseth

As a mid-continent paddler, Jeff's desire to meet the sea on its terms means having to travel (a lot!). He considers himself equidistant from both coasts (and a bit further from Europe) and relishes the similarities and differences these environments offer. He has also embraces the relationships he developed along the way. His love for the challenge of the sea can't be left at personal challenges and explorations, so he focuses his attention to develop the skills of local paddlers as well as paddlers of the coasts to enhance their experiences of ocean paddling. His enthusiasm to share his passion becomes a contagion for his students and peers to explore their limits; and his experience and training are but a tool for them to do so.

James Kesterson

James Kesterson is an ACA L-4 Instructor and BC Sea Leader, known for his attention to
detail and commitment to learning as much as possible with his outdoor pursuits. James
has a varied background, including serving in Vietnam, earning a mechanical engineering
degree, and he and his wife are former owners of an art gallery. He is a certified Master
Scuba Diver and Scuba Instructor. James is also a mountaineer and has climbed peaks in
North and South America including multiple first assents in Alaska.

James and his wife Bev live in Raleigh, NC. Home Court is the NC Outer Banks.

Jonathan Oltz

Jonathan began kayaking four years ago while living on the Hudson River where he grew up.  After moving to Massachusetts in 2015 he began to pursue sea kayaking.  In a short amount of time he has worked to push himself to learn from his peers.  Jonathan has paddled much of the North Atlantic coastline from Campobello, New Brunswick to the turbulent waters of Rhode Island.  Jonathan enjoys sharing what he has learned from coaches like John Carmody, Carl Ladd and Gerry Polinsky.  Jonathan recently co-founded Sea Kayak New England with his wife Kelsey, a part time sea kayaking instructional business introducing people to the rugged New England coastline.  Jonathan is a board member of North Shore Paddlers Network and is continuing to work through the British Canoe coaching and leadership awards.  Jonathan is excited to continue to meet new paddlers and share his passion for the sea.

Kelsey Oltz
Kelsey Oltz's interest with sea kayaking began on the Hudson River, later moving back to Massachusetts, and then Maine enjoying the beauty of what the New England Coastline offers. Kelsey is a British Canoeing Sea Kayak Leader & Coach as well as Registered Maine Sea Kayak Guide. She continues to develop her skills and learn from her mentors, having a deeper appreciation for the ocean. She frequently paddles throughout New England with her husband and is the co-founder of Sea Kayak New England where they offer instructional and guided courses. Kelsey is thrilled to bring her lively spirit to the paddle sports community continuing to make unique opportunities for paddlers. 

Julie McCoy

Julie is an American Canoe Association L3 Sea Kayaking instructor, British Canoeing  Sea Kayak Coach. and a British Canoeing Sea Leader. Julie teaches and guides in New York City, and has taught at New York Kayak Company, Brooklyn Kayak Guides, and the Inwood Canoe Club.

She has paddled in Boothbay, ME; Westport, MA; Key Largo, FL, and of course at various points in New York, New Jersey, and Long Island Sound, as well as the Isle of Skye in Scotland. She continues to develop her skills and learn from the best.

Tim Gleason

Tim Gleason has been sea kayaking for 10 years or so, and has been in, on, or around the ocean for much of his life.  He is a marine scientist who grew up in Gloucester, MA and now resides in Kingston, RI. Tim primarily paddles and leads trips with the Rhode Island Canoe and Kayak Association (RICKA) throughout New England, but has also led trips internationally. Tim is a BC 5* Sea Leader and Sea Kayak Coach, as well as an ACA  Level 3 Instructor. He enjoys rocky coastlines and dynamic environments and is committed to making paddling enjoyable, efficient, and safe

Brenda Rashleigh

Brenda Rashleigh is a BC Sea Kayak Leader, BC Level2 Coach, and ACA L3 Instructor from Kingston, Rhode Island.

Barb Todd

Barb Todd has been an active water paddler for over 20 years. her home waters have been along the coast of Maine, but she has ventured into the waters of Baja, Wales and Iceland as well as the warmer waters farther down the east coast.  She is a British Canoe Sea Kayak Leader, a Maine Guide and has taken discipline specific trainings in forward stroke, surf, rocks and ledges.

She loves paddling in active waters and is happiest in current play, but also thoroughly enjoys venturing out on sublime calm days. 

" If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." Loren Eiseley

Ian Ramsey

Calvin Croll

Calvin has spent the past 15 years teaching in college outdoor programs, instructing for the Outward Bound wilderness schools, and coaching sea kayaking across the country. More than anything, he enjoys the challenges and freedoms that come with long expeditions. In 2018 he completed the first winter circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. Calvin credits much of his successes to the quality coaching he received while training in the BC system, in which he continues to work as a coach and leader. 

Robin Read

For Robin, kayaking is like life. But just the best parts: Challenge, growth, redemption(!), camaraderie, self-reliance, and best of all, infinite opportunities to learn something new. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, where she first caught the kayaking bug about 9 years ago. Guiding beginner tours on the magnificent Hudson River eventually led to coaching and leading adventures in the coastal waters of New England. Robin earned her British Canoeing Sea Kayak Leader award in 2019, and her ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayaking Instructor Certification in 2017, but she credits the generous, persistent and insightful coaching she’s received for helping (forcing?) her to realize just how rewarding kayaking (and life) can be. This is what she aspires to pass on to others.

Michelle Forseth

Michelle fell in love with paddling on her first canoe trip years ago and has paddled canoes for many years in the BWCAW. Once the kids got older, she started paddling kayaks. Since then she has kayaked both coasts, Baja, Norway's Lofoten Islands and Wales. 

Michelle is an ACA Level 4 Instructor and recently earned her Advanced Se Leader Award in Pembrokshire Wales.

John Ozard

John began canoeing in the northeastern United States in the early 1970’s with a variety of whitewater and flatwater open canoe journeys. He purchased a touring kayak in 2003 and was instantly hooked. In the spring of 2005 friends invited him to a British Canoeing (BC) 3 Star Sea training, and he drank the Kool-Aid. He began coaching canoe and kayak in 2009. John is a BC Level 2 Canoe and Kayak Coach, Sea Kayak Leader and Paddle Explore Award Provider. He is also trained in SOLO Wilderness First Aid, BC Foundation Safety and Rescue, BC White Water Safety and Rescue, and the BC Stand Up Paddleboard Module. After a 40 year career as a wildlife biologist, John retired in the fall of 2017 and moved to northern New York where he is frequently found paddling and coaching.