Photo: Tony Arruza

Photo: Tony Arruza

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.

Fortunate One: John Denney

Some people are lucky to be in the right place at the right time. John Denney is in the right place, every time.

Denney was a pioneering kiteboarder at the forefront of that sport. He then helped with the advent of tow surfing with the Strapped Crew (including Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama, Buzzy Kerbox and Brett Lickle). So when Denney's Maui neighbor Hamilton started SUPing, Denney knew he was on to a good thing.

"It's one of those sports that almost anyone can do," Denney says. "You can put your grandmother on it or you can put a world class athlete on it and each are going to have an experience that's going to be great."

Five years ago, in anticipation of the SUP boom, Denney moved his family from Maui to Jupiter, Florida to open Jupiter Paddleboarding and East Coast Paddlesurfing. Since, Jupiter has exploded into the epicenter of SUP in Florida, if not the East Coast.

Denney teaches beginning SUP and is also one of the three head instructors for Kalama Kamps, along with Brody Welte and Kalama. The camps are all-inclusive, week-long courses in destinations such as Costa Rica, Fiji, and Florida. Denney focuses on the mental aspects of the discipline.

"I specialize in self-regulation skills, proper breathing, and focus techniques so that you can operate at peak performance with very little tension," he says.

Denney's jock background belies his professional training; he holds a Master's in counseling psychology from Pepperdine and is specially trained in managing stress and emotion.

"I teach my techniques in the first or second day (at Kalama Kamps)," Denney says. "People use it when they get caught in the waves and they haven't been in impact zones very often. I find later on people bring it home and use it in their jobs, their relationships, their parenting skills, etc."

His colleagues agree.

"The guy is brilliant—you wouldn't think of it looking at him cause he looks like an average surfer dude," says Welte. "It's just a joy to work with him. He's got all those qualifications but he's a very friendly, approachable guy and just really cares about the sport."

His students are equally smitten.

"I spent my entire 40-year professional career as an educator and supervisor of teachers and I can unequivocally state that John would rate an A+ as an educator and facilitator," says John Roberts, a Kalama Kamp attendee in Turks and Caicos, says. "He gave me confidence to surf bigger waves than I've ever ridden on an SUP."

Denney is not only passionate about his teaching but also looks to further legitimize the sport of standup.

"It's taken us seven or eight years to learn this stuff and we figured it shouldn't take everybody that long," Denney said. "That's really where I get my passion for the sport: teaching people and getting people to do it correctly." —WT

Other Options Nearby:
Jupiter Outdoor Center
Jupiter Pointe Paddling
Palm Beach Paddleboards

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

For more information:, 561.427.0240
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