Photo: Ryan Foley

Photo: Ryan Foley

Best Local SUP Instructors: Heidi Burgoyne

Heidi Burgoyne's roots are firmly planted in the water. Having grown up on the shores of Lake Michigan, swimming was an integral part of her life. Her love for the water was deepened by a move to Hawaii eleven years ago and then SUP came into the picture and Burgoyne picked up a paddle. It was only natural.

"My husband got a board and was kind enough to have me on it first," the 34-year-old says of her first experience with SUP. "I stood up, caught some waves, and had the time of my life."

She hasn't looked back.

In 2008 Burgoyne and her husband opened Rainbow Watersports, becoming the first SUP shop on the North Shore of Oahu. Because standup was still relatively new, Burgoyne was an instructional SUP pioneer.

"At that time there was a lot of experimentation in the sport, not really a consensus on the best way to stroke or the best way to maneuver the board. So we had to come up with an instruction set on our own and it's been really successful," she says. "We've found that a lot of schools have copied our technique, so we must be doing something right."

While she recognizes the importance of form and technique, Burgoyne's main concern is showing her students a great time. "Our big focus, besides safety of course, is friendliness, having people feel the spirit of aloha with us."

As an athlete and competitive racer, Burgoyne loves the full-body workout paddling offers while remaining low impact. She gets joy from spending time in nature and connecting with people daily.

"It's open for all ages and abilities," she says. "So it really doesn't have an exclusion factor to it."

As a teacher you aren't supposed to play favorites, but Burgoyne does. She found the most rewarding SUP lessons have been teaching students that have a terminal disease and know that standup is something they want to experience before they pass on.

"To be a part of that means a lot to me. That they would one, trust our school to give them that type of experience and two, that I get to be in that person's life for just that moment.

"It's just very cool to have somebody say, 'Can you give me an experience before I pass on from this life?' It's really an honor."

While Burgoyne's students are touching her life in big ways, it's not a one-way street. Her students get a lot of joy from taking her classes.

Claudia Cotes and her husband honeymooned on Oahu and were directed to Rainbow Watersports when they expressed an interest in paddle boarding.

"She is a very skilled and a great teacher, not only for beginners, but for more advanced students," Cotes says. "She totally loves her job and it shows!" –Rebecca Parsons

Other options

Blue Planet Surf, 808-729-2229
West Oahu SUP, 808-729-2229
Hawaiian Surf Adventures, 808-396-2324

This article originally ran in our 2014 Beginner's Guide as "Local Knowledge."

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