top Instructors?

Kinda a loaded question with lots of room for opinions but I was wondering who anyone has worked with or taken a class from that you consider to be a top notch instructor. Always good to hear opinions about who really helped something click or who helped you become a significantly better paddler.

both Euro and Greenland style:

I’ll start: not in any order


Turner Wilson and Cheri Perry

Steve Scherrer

Chris Raab

Tom Nichols

Roger Schuman

Nigel Foster
NIgel F is in a league by himself. I don’t think a more skilled person with a paddle exists - also friendly, sense of humor, dislikes BCU ratings type of things, and can work with any level paddler and have fun. 0 ego.

Took a very brief class with Tom Bergh from Maine Island kayak and was very impressed.

Bob Burnett (currently in Seattle) is a great instructor/mentor. He knew when to push me and when to back off. His enthusiasm is unmatched.

Second Nigel F
He’s Yoda in a kayak, but a softspoken regular guy. Likes quality beer too. Other noteworthies include Jen kleck, John Carmody, Ginni Callahan, et al.

The top 10 instructors I have

– Last Updated: Oct-14-10 2:55 PM EST –

personally received training, guidance and advice from would include:

John Carmody (ME)
Peter Casson (RI)
Marshall & Dorothy Seddon (NY)
Karen Knight (MD)
Bob Foote (MD)
Greg Paquin (CT)
Paula Riegel (CT)
Olly Sanders (UK)
Chris Mitchell (OR)

Each of these individuals not only has a high level of skill, they can teach! In other words get their point across to others. I have paddled with other 'top' instructors/coaches that have a great degree of skill, but lack in the delivery department.

Note that my list is not in any sort of preferential order.

If you come out west
Carl Anderson (Otterslide)

Shawna Franklin

Leon Somme

Ginni Callaghan

Chris Mitchell (Falcon)

George Gronseth

Steve Scherrer

Bryan Smith

Nigel Foster

Wayne Horodwich

In no particular order

My take anyway


Out west
Two more I would add in the Pacific NW:

John Wallum

Paul Kuthe

John’s a stellar guy! I don’t know
Paul, but if you mention him as peer to John, he’s likely quite good.


Peter Casson and add Carl Ladd in in Westport Mass.

Won’t repeat
other excellent suggestions.

For Greenland Skills;

Alison Sigethy (DC)

See you on the water,

Marshall Seddon

The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

My top five…
Turner, Cheri, Dan Segal, Hadas Feldman, Anne Sontheimer.

Bill Bremer
Thanks, Bill, for all the helpful tips.

I’ll 2nd Jen Kleck, Aqua Adventures, CA, and add Jake Stachoviak, WI. Two of the best I’ve taken instuction from.


they all know each other
Mike Aronoff (CKAPCO) gave me my very first group paddling instruction and my very 1st private rolling lesson, which provided me with the enthusiasm and motivation to learn more. He is solely responsible for planted the seed, which has made kayaking my obsession and passion (who needs a life?).

My 2nd rolling lesson was in a Connecticut High School pool with Cheri Perry who is an exceptional and World-Class Greenland rolling instructor who was wonderful, patient, and provided expert guidance with lots of body mechanic tips. She made learning to roll exciting and addictively fun and provided lots of feedback and confidence building comments. Cheri is simply an awesome instructor and worth every penny she charges. At the same time, Turner Wilson was instructing another neophyte roller next to me and I picked up a lot of tips just listening and eavesdropping. Later, Turner built my qajaq and 1st GL paddle. Their website (kayakways) provides excellent rolling videos to watch and learn.

I asked Cheri who I could seek out in the D.C. area for further rolling instruction and she highly recommended her friend Alison Sigethy. Alison was awesome and simplified the thought process to basic steps, which you could remember while unconscious; it was so simple. Alison observed and fitted me in my tupperware boat (Tempest 170), provided a foam pad for additional fit and contact, instructed me on some excellent yoga exercises and stretches, cleaned up a few bad habits I acquired, built upon what Cheri taught me, and had me rolling in 15 minutes. Alison is an outstanding communicator and marvelous roller; just watch her dressage rolling demonstration.

Other outstanding instructors whom I have had the pleasure to learn from include Brian Blankenship, who helped me improve my basic stroke and bracing techniques. Dubside, who is not only extremely friendly, laid-back, and in a class by himself, but also excellent in conveying the process and mechanics of rolling. Tom Nichols and Bill Bremmer (Lumpy Paddles) have also shared many thoughts and ideas with me. Incidentally, Bill’s Lumpy Paddles are the best in the world and I wouldn’t trade mine with anybody; you can’t beat them for learning GS-style rolling.

With the many clubs and events (e.g., Delmarva, etc.), most of the top instructors all seem to know each other and frequently participate jointly in the clinics and retreats. Most are equally expert in both Euro and Greenland style and all have excellent paddling and teaching skills. It’s a tight community and you can’t go wrong getting instruction from any of them. The Qajaqusa forum and this one ( also excellent resources for instruction. Get as many instructions as you can afford then practice, practice, and practice some more. Cheers!

Fishing for complements?
Okay, I’ll say it: BrazilBrasil

Top instructors/coaches

– Last Updated: Oct-16-10 8:14 AM EST –

I've worked with many very good coaches among the ones with whom I've clicked and learned well from are:
John Carmody (ME)A natural teacher with whom I have worked more than any other single coach. One of only 4 BCU L5 coaches in North America and well deserving of the ranking.
Alison Sigethy (DC)Greenland
Steve Maynard (NY/ME) Another of the very few BCU L5 coaches in NA
Tom Bergh (ME)
George Ruta (NY)
Russell Farrow (FL)
And for ww:
Sally Dewes (NY)
Horst deLorenzo (NY)
Jody Dixon (NY)
and Anthony Lamano (NY) who is not officially a coach but is the reason I can run some ww.

Go north, eh?
Doug Alderson. Great coach for a complete set of paddling skills.

a few more
Bryan Smith

Sean Morley

Ben Lawry


White water/rolling:

Dan Crandall

Phil & Mary DiReimer

Jen Kleck -Aqua Adventures

Sean Morley

Jeff Laxier Liquid Fusion kayaking

Jeff is not a celebrity kayaker but a very good teacher.

Favorite mentors
My favorites so far are these three, no ranking implied:

John Carmody (Boothbay, ME)

Shawna Franklin (Orcas Island, WA)

Leon Somme (Orcas Island, WA)

Not only great paddlers, but great mentors full of enthusiasm and respect for the environment. They are also tuned in to your learning style, which I find a big plus.

One of the things that makes them stand out is the continuing support they provide–they all told me to contact them if I had any more questions after the classes themselves were over.

Two more I recommend are Matt Nelson (who often works with Leon and Shawna) and Suzanne Hutchinson of MA. I did not spend as much time with either of these two, but they belong, with the above instructors, in the category of teachers who really watch what you do and know how to offer helpful suggestions that yield good results.

I’ve seen classes in which the instructor barks out Do It This Way. I sure hope That Way is going the way of the dodo bird. Fortunately, most of my instructors have not taken that route.