Photo: Ben Gately

Photo: Ben Gately

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.


Seth Cantley is uniquely qualified to teach first-time standup paddlers. Missing the lower half of his left arm, the polite Southern gentleman and ACA-certified SUP instructor is living proof that just about anyone can SUP.

"Standup paddling is so easy for kids and just as easy for either gender, that all these people, who didn't think they could, are suddenly doing it with their family and friends," Cantley says in his easy drawl. "It's a great feeling. It's not teaching someone standup paddleboarding; it's giving someone an opportunity to see what they really are capable of."

Cantley, 34, does just about everything he's capable of too, which includes SUP races, 50K trail runs, Ironman triathlons, even attempting to connect drainages and SUP 300 miles across all of South Carolina this September before low water halted the trip five days and 130 miles in. To support his endurance habits, he splits hours between work as a medical care architect and instructing at Charleston's Half-Moon Outfitters. The occupational crossroads of health care and the outdoors often has Cantley working with disabled children and vets. And Charleston's prime location has him busier than ever baptizing new paddlers.

"Charleston's engrossed with water," says Cantley, who's also added instruction for the city's parks and rec department to his loaded docket. "You've got the harbor that's absolutely beautiful with battery wall protection to keep rough water out, good beaches, great creeks. You can go watch the sun rise over one of the oldest cities in America, or go check out the creeks and marshes with alligators, birds—tons of wildlife."

The only wrinkle? How to demonstrate proper paddling technique to "the typical two-handed person." Sure, it's a challenge, but Cantley shrugs it off, dealing with the task the same way that he approached the sport: by adapting.

Cantley flips his paddle T-grip backward so it fits easier into the nub just below his left elbow. He says it affects his speed switching hands in the surf, but he's drawn to longer endurance races anyway. Though he's never won a SUP race, he's proud to say that he's never come in last.

"I was born this way, I was fortunate," Cantley says of a drive to adapt that his mother instilled in him. "I've coined my own saying that, 'This is not a two-handed, symmetrical world.' You don't have to have everything to do anything, you can do anything you want; it's more of a mental game being physically limited."

Cantley imparts that mental strength into his students, who often feel burdened by physical limitations. He's looking to increase his adaptive SUP instruction this year with wounded vets. He sees the number of younger soldiers returning from the field to Charleston's VA hospital rising, and knows they're eager to try something new.

"I've worked with people who've lost limbs to diabetes, disabled children, young warriors who've been hurt and it's a big thing not being on the water," Cantley says. "To get them outside, on a board, helping them learn that what they've endured doesn't limit their lifestyle, or possibilities—it'll build self-confidence and teach them how to get around their limitations. —DS

Other Options Nearby:
Charleston SUP Safaris
Charleston Watersport

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:, (843) 853.0990
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