10000 Gandy Blvd. North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33702 * (727) 570-4844 * Email us at TheShop@SweetwaterKayaks.com

Symposium Details

February 22 – March 1, 2015

  • February 22 – 26 ACA L1-L3
  • February 27 – 28, and March 1 Sweetwater Symposium


  • The first two days of the Symposium will be at Veteran’s Memorial Park.
  • The third day of the Symposium will be at Fort De Soto Park, $5.00 per vehicle admission fee.
  • Meeting location for ACA classes will be at our store , located at 10000 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg, FL 33702.


Course listing is growing. Please check back often as courses are being added.

Sweetwater 2015 Sea Kayak Symposium Registration Form.

Confirmed coaches:

Coaches’ bios.

Sylvain_Bedard Sylvain Bedard
Sylvain has been an avid paddler for over 25 years. It is his dedication and passion for the sport which led him to the UK in 2012 where he was awarded the highest recognition in sea kayaking, BCU 5 Star Leader. Being the first Quebecer (and among a handful of Canadians) to receive this distinction has not shaken his conviction that there is always more to learn from others, from the sea, and from oneself. In addition to frequently paddling abroad, Sylvain remains an active member in the Quebec sea kayaking community. He has been on the FQCK program development committee since 2007, and was called in 2011 to participate in the development of the Route Blue du Grand Montreal (one of the last sections added to the St Lawrence Seaway).Sylvain has been a P&H Team Paddler since 2011 and can frequently be found playing in the tumultuous waters of Maine and the UK.

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John Carmody
BCU Level 5 Sea Coach
ACA Open Water Instructor
ACA Level 4 Surf Instructor
BCU 4 Star Sea Assessor
Wilderness First Responder
Registered Maine Sea Kayak Guide Senior Sea Kayak Instructor- St Michael’s College Wilderness Program Adjunct Instructor, Expeditionary Studies Program,SUNY Plattsburgh With the exception of a few misguided years a while ago, John has lived on the ocean his entire life. He has been in and around most every type of boat, tending towards the wind and human powered types. Almost 20 years ago, the sea kayak became his vessel of choice, and he has enjoyed adapting his “Big Boat” skills to kayaks. John’s love of the traditions of the sea is infectious as he passes his seamanship and navigation skills on to his students. As a Coach, his understanding of the human body and biomechanics, gives him unique insights into what will make his students more efficient, safer from injuries and better able to enjoy these centuries old craft in more exposed environments. John has led trips throughout Maine, the Canadian Maritimes, and the British Isles. He regularly instructs at Kayak Symposiums throughout the US. John is a Team paddler for both P&H Kayaks and Werner Paddle.
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Russell Farrow
BCU 5 Star Training/Sea Kayak
BCU 4 Star Award/Sea Kayak
BCU Level 3 Coach/Sea Kayak
BCU Level 3 Coach Aspirant/Surf
BCU Three Star Award/Canoe
TSRA Certified Solo Open Boat.
ACA Level 2 Canoe Coach.
ACA Level 4 Coastal Kayak CoachWilderness First Responder
President of Sweetwater Kayaks
Russell’s excellent product knowledge enables our customers to be outfitted to best suit their paddling needs. In addition to sea kayaking, his outdoor background includes mountain biking and climbing. These sports have taken him all over the world; Scotland, France, Switzerland, Canada, Andorra, Spain, Morocco, Hawaii, and North America. Among Russell’s many talents, he is also a professional musician. He plays guitar in the band, “Sizemore”. There music is available on iTunes and tangoradio.com and at the shop. He has appeared on Saturday Night Live. In 2005, Russell organized the Labrador 2005 Expedition and paddled down the northeast coast of Labrador (Some call it one of the most challenging coastlines in the world.) In 2007 he paddled in Florida (leading trips in the everglades), the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Mexico, San Diego, Deception Pass, Washington, Alaska, Scotland, Outer Hebrides, and Georgia. He and his “Team Sweetwater” won the IR Vacation to Hell grant, and in the summer of 2008 paddled in the High Arctic of Canada’s Baffin Island. A DVD and presentation has come out on that expedition. He has written articles for Canoe Focus Magazine as well as developed paddling and adventure DVD’s. In the summer of 2013 he paddled across the Baltic Sea, from Stockholm, Sweden to Helsinki, Finland.
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Nigel Fosters Nigel Foster
Nigel Foster is a long-time close friend of Sweetwater Kayaks. He is known for his well-thought-out easy-steps teaching style, his broad experience in kayaking, and his playful sense of humor.His international kayaking reputation is built on his instruction and expeditions, his designs, (nine of his sea kayak designs have been commercially produced, not to mention his paddles, pfd’s and accessories), his instructional videos and DVDs and his numerous books and articles. In recent years he has been working closely with Point65 of Sweden.

He is the first sea kayaker to be inducted into the International Kayaking Hall of Fame, but you can find him on the web at www.nigelkayaks.com, or anywhere with good espresso and guitars. Beware of imitations!

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Phil Hadley
1 – 4 Star Canoe and White Water Kayak
3 star Sea Kayak
Level 1 and Level 2 BCU Paddlesports Coach Award
‘Old style’ BCU L3 Training Canoe and Inland Kayak
‘Old style’ BCU L2 Assessments Canoe and Inland Kayak
‘Old style’ BCU L3 Assessments Canoe and Inland Kayak
Foundation Safety and Rescue Training
Canoe Safety Test
Aquatic First Aid
Phil, known to friends as “Foxy” is from a town in the heart of England called Dudley, although fairly close to Birmingham – he is NOT a Brummy! For those people who don’t know Phil (there can’t be many!) he was the West Midlands Paddlesport Development Officer for nine years and contributed two chapters to the BCU Coaching Handbook. Phil is massively involved with the BCU: as a national trainer he is one of the key people rolling out the new Coaching Programmes and Performance Awards in the UK , Europe, Mexico and the United States . Phil does a lot of work approving centres for the BCU and is the technical adviser of choice for many centres and organisations. Phil ran the first ‘new’ Level 1 course in the US back in 2008 at the Sweetwater Symposium and is looking forward to visiting Florida again to deliver more courses with his infectious enthusiasm. He has a BSc Hons degree in Sports Science and loves paddling and coaching.
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Steven Henkind-3

Steven Henkind

For the past eight years, Steven Henkind has served as a Navigator (Quartermaster of the Watch) and Navigation Instructor on board the Coast Guard’s training ship EAGLE. In this capacity, he stands navigational watches and trains Coast Guard Cadets and Officer Candidates in piloting, celestial navigation, and electronic navigation. He is also qualified as a crew member on the Coast Guard UTB41 and RBS25 boats and has participated in numerous safety and search and rescue missions.

In addition to his time on board EAGLE, he is also an experienced offshore sailor with over 20,000 ocean miles (including two transatlantics, and a second place finish in the Marion to Bermuda Race) under his keel.

Additional qualifications include:

  • USCG 200 Ton Auxiliary Sail Master’s license
  • ASA Advanced Coastal Cruising and Celestial Navigation Instructor
  • US Sailing Powerboat Instructor
  • RYA Yachtmaster Ocean
  • ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayaking Instructor
  • Author of numerous articles in SAIL magazine and other leading publications

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Lamar Hudgens
Education Degree WCU
BCU Level 4 Coach A1* Assessor/Sea Kayak
ACA Advanced Open Water Instructor
BCU 5 Star Award/Sea Kayak
Lamar founded Barrier Island Kayaks in 1996. He has now accumulated over 30 years of kayaking experience with over 22,000 miles behind the paddle. He has worked as head guide for Wildwater Ltd. on the Chattooga River, managed High Country Outfitters on the Ocoee River, worked as a trip leader and instructor for Nantahala Outdoor Center and Senior Field Staff rock climbing and paddling instructor for Camp Woodson Therapeutic Wilderness Camp. Lamar’s guiding experience on Section IV of the Chattooga River was written up in National Geographic in April 1983. Lamar was awarded the BCU 5 Star in 2004 from Nigel Dennis at an assessment in Anglesey, Wales, UK. At that time, this award was held by less than 15 paddlers in the United States and qualifies Lamar as one of the highest ranking BCU sea coaches in the US. His passion for open sea paddling has taken him to Wales four times and Lamar now leads advanced sea kayak trips to the UK.
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Carl_Ladd Carl Ladd
Carl co-founded Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures with his wife Samantha in 2001 as a sea kayaking / environmental education school. He spent five seasons in the desert southwest teaching desert ecology, environmental and experiential education for the Boojum Wilderness Institute. He also spent four seasons studying and teaching tropical marine ecology in the Sea of Cortez and the British Virgin Islands. Carl has been teaching kayaking skills, rescue and safety to school groups, private organizations, individuals and instructors since 1995. He has taught outdoor skills ranging from backpacking, back country skiing, rock climbing, high angle mountain search and rescue and sea kayaking since 1991. He received his Degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College in 1991.
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Symposium 2012 Picture 15 Chad Maynard
ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor
BCU UKCC Level 2 Coach
BCU Three Star Award/Sea Kayak
BCU Three Star Award/Canoe
BCU Four Star Award/aspirant
BCU Four Star Training/Sea Kayak
BCU Foundations, Safety, and Rescue Test (FSRT)
Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning
Prior to plunging into the sport of kayaking in 2005, he spent years racing sailboats and fishing the lakes of Northern Ohio. He took his love of water with him as he headed off to college in Southeast Ohio where he majored in computer science and minored in mathematics. While at college he enjoyed canoeing and fishing the numerous fresh water lakes and rivers. He has continued his formal education by completing an MBA from the University of Phoenix in Tampa. So when doesn’t have his nose in a textbook or is not on the water paddling, the most likely place to find Chad is coaching kayaking or canoeing courses offered through the shop or handling Sweetwater’s rental fleet at Weedon Island Preserve. Chad is currently an American Canoe Association (ACA) Level 3 Coastal Kayaking Instructor and a British Canoe Union (BCU) UKCC Level 2 coach. He is striving to obtain his BCU UKCC level 3 coaching certification so he can help advance others in a sport that he loves. In addition to his participation in kayaking and other water sports he has a full time career in the information technology (IT) field, including owning his own business (KC Computing, LLC). He loves all types of music, bowling, cooking, rollerblading, weight lifting, Texas hold’em, and is an avid golf duffer. FORE!!!!
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Steve Maynard
BCU Level 5 coach sea, Assessor Level 5
Head of Paddle Sport, Expeditionary Studies Department SUNY Plattsburgh
Steve has been sea kayaking in the UK, Europe, and North America for the last 15 years. He is one of the few people world wide to have qualified as a British Canoe Union (BCU) Level 5 Coach Sea and Level 5 Assessor Sea. This is regarded internationally as the highest level of qualification for teaching, guiding, and assessing skills in sea kayaking. He is also an American Canoe Association (ACA) Advanced Open Water Instructor and qualified in a variety of other kayak and mountain sports. Steve is the head kayak instructor for the Adirondack Experience and Expeditionary Studies Program at SUNY – Plattsburgh. He is also East Coast RCO for BCUNA.
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Greg Stamer
Greg grew up paddling open canoes but was instantly captivated by sea kayaks and got his start in 1988. Home is wherever he happens to be, but central Florida is his home base. Greg is the President and founder of Qajaq USA, the American Chapter of the Greenland Kayaking Association (Qaannat Kattuffiat). Greg is perhaps best known for his study, teaching and writings of Greenland technique and culture. He has written articles for Sea Kayaker magazine and authored the chapter, “Using Greenland Paddles” in “Eastern Arctic Kayaks, History, Design, Technique” by John D. Heath and E. Y. Arima. Greg is a featured paddler in Justine Curgenven’s “This is the Sea” video, and is a guest-instructor in “Nigel Foster’s Sea Kayaking Series”. Greg participated on the first American team, when the annual Greenland Kayaking Championship was opened to outsiders in 2000. He won his age group in the World Class (which combined all Greenlanders and foreigners), and earned medals in different disciplines, including long distance racing and rolling. Greg returned again in 2002 and earned another gold medal for rolling. While there he enjoyed kayaking in several locations along the Southwest Greenland coast in a traditional skin covered kayak; “The Greenlandic coast and fiords are truly soul-inspiring in their beauty. Works of man are few, and the immense landscape both humbles and empowers you at the same time”. In June 2007 Greg and Freya Hoffmeister circumnavigated Iceland (1,620 km) in 33 days (25 paddling days), a record. Greg used a carbon Superior Kayaks Greenland paddle on the trip. In June 2008 Greg circumnavigated Newfoundland solo (2,102 km) in 44 days (35 paddling days), a record. Greg used take-apart carbon Superior Kayaks Greenland paddles on the trip (86? and 88). http://www.gregstamer.com/ http://www.qajaqusa.org/
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Cynthia Thompson
BCU UKCC Level 1 Coach
ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor
BCU 2 Star Award
BCU Foundations, Safety, and Rescue Test (FSRT)
Cynthia, a Saint Petersburg native, began paddling canoes in 2000 when she spent a year living on the Santa Fe River in north Florida. After returning to the Tampa Bay area in 2000 she continued canoeing and began kayaking. She is currently working with Gettysburg College’s G.R.A.B. department helping their students develop skills and has lead trips in The Outer Banks of North Carolina and on the Suwannee River. In 2012-2013 she has also taught sea kayaking and paddle boarding at Berkley Preparatory School in Tampa. Cynthia is a avid paddle boarder and enjoys touring, surfing and yoga. Her recent endeavors are Bouldering, cycling and kayak surfing.
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