Photo: Rick Dahms

Photo: Rick Dahms

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.

Surf Where You Find It: Rob Casey

You can hear the excitement in his voice.

"Sorry, there's a freighter off the bow," Rob Casey, 40, says from the deck of an outbound ferry from Seattle. "I got a little distracted. What was I talking about?"

Casey can see the wake coming off the boat and is thinking, "When those hit land they're going to be waves. I could be riding them." Luckily he's headed out to Port Angeles on the Strait of Juan de Fuca to teach a SUP surf lesson. He isn't going to drop the phone.

Casey has an obsessive personality. He'd been surf, sea and whitewater kayaking in the Seattle area for a decade when he discovered SUP. When he felt the glide of riding waves standing, he was hooked.

"I'm addicted to surfing," Casey says. "I try to emulate that as much as possible in Seattle."

Which means riding tug wakes, freighter wakes, tidal rapids and wind waves in the Puget Sound—three hours from the nearest ocean waves.

When he's not paddling for fun, Casey is buried in the greater SUP community. He's certified by almost every SUP organization out there and he teaches students and instructors alike. He also consults for recreational paddlesports businesses.

"It's fun to watch people grow, improve and be safe out there," he says. "It's exciting to see it click for them."

Casey offers lessons through his company, Salmon Bay Paddle, and focuses on enjoying the waters of the Pacific Northwest safely. Salmon Bay offers the only advanced SUP lessons in the region.

Sharon Ilstrup, 48, was already an experienced SUPer when she took her teacher certification with Casey.

"I'd been paddling for a while and had no idea how little I knew," Ilstrup says. "He not only understands the sport of SUP inside and out, he knows how to teach and coach."

Case in point: Casey also literally wrote the first instructional book on the sport, Standup Paddling: Flatwater to Surf and Rivers.

"A lot of people think they don't need a book, they don't need a lesson, it's too easy, and then usually they go out and flounder," he says. "I just like to help people out." —WT

Other Options Nearby:
Urban Surf
Northwest Outdoor Center Seattle
Perfect Wave Surf Shop

For more information, visit:, 206.465.7167
Click here for more SUP Instructors Near You.