SUP instructors: Jimmy Blakeney

Photo: Peter McGowan

SUP Instructors Near You

From flatwater socialites to downwind warriors, SUP instructors are key to learning how to standup paddle. In honor of our upcoming Beginner's Guide, hitting newsstands March 28, here's a look at some of standup paddling's top instructors in your region.

Learn by Paddling: Jimmy Blakeney

Jimmy Blakeney is a teacher and an athlete. He grew up skateboarding and snowboarding and then, while he was in college at Virginia Tech, discovered kayaking. Blakeney went pro soon after, eventually winning a US National Freestyle Kayak Championship in 2003.

During his decade-long career as a whitewater kayaker he received his American Canoe Association certification and started teaching. While he transitioned out of his whitewater career, Blakeney, 40, taught school and paddling at numerous kayak academies as well as at a public high school. He also took up SUP.

"When I was first exposed to SUP I was like, 'Whoa, this is the perfect combination of the two things that I love: it's a boardsport and a paddlesport,'" Blakeney says. "I was really intrigued and got on board and started to get into it."

Not long after, Blakeney opened the SUP school New England Paddlesurf. He also developed a SUP-specific curriculum with the ACA.

"Teaching something and doing it are two completely different things," Blakeney says. "There are plenty of people that can SUP way, way better than I can. But I put quite a bit of time and effort in trying to figure out how to break it down and teach it."

Now based in Rhode Island, Blakeney is the product/marketing manager at BIC SUP, which isn't exactly teaching. Yet he can't help himself. Blakeney arguably put together the best one-stop online video page consisting of 17 videos for learning how to SUP, covering everything from choosing the right board to getting out into the surf.

He's taken all his lessons from paddling and teaching and tries to distill them for his video series.

"It's about what you can take out, not what you can add," Blakeney says, echoing French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. "As a beginner it's so hard to absorb when you have this huge dump of information coming at you. So I try to break it down into bite-size pieces that you can absorb so that you can build on skills." —WT

For other options nearby, checkout the following:
Paddle Board Rhode Island
Peter Pan Surfing Academy
The Kayak Center of Rhode Island

This article originally ran in our 2013 Beginner’s Guide. Look for more profiles in our upcoming Beginner’s Guide on newsstands, March 28.

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