SKILS works with some of the best in Canadian paddlesports and each of our team is personally committed to paddling. This commitment is backed up by years of personal and professional experience but even that’s not enough for us – all our team also actively work to support paddling through a variety of activities that include writing articles and books, sitting on Boards of Directors, volunteering time with youth programs and local clubs, and running paddling programs for other organizations.
JF has taught kayaking and guiding expeditions full time across Canada since 1998. He is a certified Level 4 Guide & Guide Trainer and Examiner with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC). He was vice-president of the SKGABC for 14 years, He is a certified Level 4 Instructor and Level 3 Instructor Trainer with Paddle Canada. JF is a pioneer of kayak fishing in Canada. He holds many diplomas, including a Master’s degree in Industrial Relations and a Bachelor of Art degree in Political Science from Laval University. JF is the author of books and training manuals and wrote the kayak fishing chapter in John’s Dowd classic book Sea Kayaking: A Manual for Long-Distance Touring. When JF is not having fun on the water, he runs SKILS, Canada’s premiere sea kayaking training centre. He loves to communicate his passion of sea kayaking and use humor as a teaching tool. JF also enjoys teaching kayak fishing and guiding kayak fishing expedition. If you have never met JF before, it is easy to pick him out of the crowd, as his strong French-Canadian accent cannot hide him for long.
Michael is the past president of the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC. He is also a Lead Guide, Guide Trainer, and Examiner with the SKGABC. He is a Senior Instructor Trainer with Paddle Canada. Guiding and instructing paddlesports for over 30 years, Michael also has extensive retail and business experience in paddle sports. He coauthored the 2002 Handbook of Sea Kayak Safety and Rescue, published by Ragged Mountain Press. When is not kayaking, Michael teaches at Royal Roads University.
Andrew has worked as a leader in the outdoor community since 1993. He has been involved in a number of businesses and was a founding member and Director of Operations for Power to Be, an adaptive recreation business on Vancouver Island. He was also the founding member/Instructor of Kindred Spirit White Water. He is an Intermediate Instructor Trainer with Paddle Canada, a Certified Lead Guide with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of B.C. as well as a Level 2 Swift Water Rescue Technician. In addition he has worked in the head offices of Seaward Kayaks and holds many certifications outside of the paddling world. When Andrew is not teaching kayaking and SUPing, he works as a manager at MEC.
Piper has been paddling since the earliest moments of his life. A member of the SKGABC executive for several years, has contributed to the Guides Education Modules (GEM’s) as well as the Steering Committee. Piper is a certified Lead guide, Guide Trainer and Examiner with the SKGABC, and is a star 4 paddler with the British Canoe Union, level 1 swift water rescue technician, and level 2 instructor with Paddle Canada. Guiding and instructing since 1993 Piper has worked most of the BC coast from the Queen Charlottes to Victoria, as well as extensive experience in Baja Mexico. Piper also worked as the production scheduler of Current Designs, also acting as product tester and design consultant. Piper’s love of the ocean has him living near the water, making his living on the water, and owning a 40′ boat (Bring Out Another Thousand$) named Leona. Piper also works for the Canadian Coast Guard.
Meaghan’s water pursuits began at a young age in the swimming pool as a synchronized swimmer (yes that’s right, water ballet!) A quick stint as a rafting guide on the Ottawa River then lead her to the world of sea kayaking. Meaghan jumped on board with Paddle Canada’s Sea Kayaking program in its early stages and was among the first women to achieve a Level Four Sea Kayaking Skills award. She is now a Level Three Instructor, Level Two Instructor Trainer and a BCU Level Three Sea Coach. In her spare time away from kayaking, Meaghan’s love of the ocean, the atmosphere and water. She holds a Masters of Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.
Beth-Anne has been a sea kayak guide and instructor since 1997. She is a positive spirit who has considerable sea guiding experience across the world. She has guided sea kayak tours in Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Canada and Antarctica. Beth-Anne is a Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor and a SKGABC Level 3 Guide and Guide Trainer.
Erik is forever drawn to the water and is truly in his element when paddling. He is equally passionate about sharing the paddling experience through instruction, guiding, and community involvement. Instructing since 1996, the majority of Erik’s experience comes from paddling in unsalted Ontario waters. When on land, you can find him fixing friends boats or painting homes in and around the Toronto area. Erik has a keen interest in fitness and technical paddling skills, as well as open rough-water kayak play. Current certifications include: WFR, Paddle Canada Level I Instructor Trainer, Paddle Canada Level 3 Instructor, ORCKA Canoe Tripping II Instructor, ORCKA Basic Canoe Instructor Trainer, SUP Instructor Trainer, BCU Four Star and Three Star Sea Kayak Coach and a Personal Trainer under the national program of CanFitPro.
With a quirky and often infectious personality, Kate has a passion for kayaking that began when she was just a wee little Salmon Fry, if you will excuse the coastal reference. Now she cruises the seas paddling surf kayaks, sea kayaks and surf skis in search of her next grand adventure. Kate grew up in midst of the rocky playgrounds and long sandy surf beaches of Vancouver Island, BC, so it is no surprise that she is now pushing the limits of ‘longboat’ surfing as a member of The Hurricane Riders. Kate is a coach with SKILS and holds certifications as a Sea Kayak Guide Trainer and Examiner with the Sea Kayak Guide’s Alliance of British Columbia, Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level 2 Instructor and Level 3 aspirant. She brings over 16 years of experience in outdoor education and coaching combined with solid technical boating, safety and seamanship skills, giving her programs their own unique style.
As a SKGBC Level 3 Guide and a Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor and a Level 4 Skills, Rowan is an enthusiatic, commited and professional sea kayak instructor. With over ten years experience, Rowan brings a unique and very positive style of instruction to paddling programs and leadership development. As an active sea kayaker, Rowan’skills and passion are demonstrated in his courses, his commitment to the The Hurricane Riders, and his paddling films. Rowan is very proud to be a part of the SKILS Team.
Sarah started her paddling career in Ontario working at a summer camp instructor taking youth on canoe trips in Algonquin Park. Sarah came to British Columbia in 1997 to take the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training Course (COLT) Since then Sarah has worked on the BC coast guiding and instructing adults and youth and working to always improve her kayaking knowledge and skills. Sarah was a board member for the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC) for 4 years and is a level 3 Guide and Guide Trainer for the SKGABC. She has worked in Baja and on the Central Coast of BC. When not in her boat Sarah loves to go telemark skiing or climbing in the mountains of Vancouver Island where she lives.
Costain’s introduction to paddle sports was through a flatwater racing club. Shortly thereafter he discovered sea kayaking and began to explore the many flavours of paddlesports. Costain taught canoeing and kayaking in the freshwaters of Ontario for a decade. He flirted with paddling on the west coast for a couple of years and eventually relocated to BC. A multifaceted teacher, Costain’s instructional experience ranges from recreational youth and adult courses to instructor and leadership programs. He seeks out unique paddling environments and loves to challenge what has traditionally been done in sea kayaks. Costain has sought instruction and inspiration from many paddling communities. He is excited to be the latest addition to the SKILS family and to keep sharing his passion for paddle sports. Costain is a SKGABC Level 3 Guide, Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level 4 Paddler, Level 2 Instructor, Level 1 Instructor Trainer, and Intermediate Tandem Canoe Instructor.
Catherine is a life long local Tofino surfer who loves to spend most of her time in the ocean. Growing up on the beach inliving in the tropics as an other way to be on the water. As a commercial captain and a Paddle Canada SUP Instructor she uses her experience in teaching Flatwater, Surf, and Navigation Touring paddleboarding courses full time through her business, Tofino Paddle Surf. When she is not teaching surfing with her brothers Sepp and Raph or paddleboarding she will be found traveling and surfing with her kids. With her vast experience growing up on the ocean and surfing, Catherine is motivated by her love for the ocean and beaches, the fresh air and the rainforest. Catherine loves to share her stoke and appreciation for the planet. Catherine is sponsored by Roxy, Level Six and Aftanas Surfboards.
Gary Doran lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where he is the Head Sea Kayaking Instructor/Guide and Programmer at Ocean River Sports, and a core Sea Kayaking Instructor with Sea Kayak Instruction & Leadership Systems (SKILS). He has been a sea kayak instructor and guide since 1996, and has kayaked in the Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island, Baja, and the Great Lakes. Notable expeditions include Isla Angel de la Guarda, Baja, and Cape Scott, Vancouver Island. Gary is certified through Paddle Canada as a Sea Kayaking Instructor Level 4 and a Sea Kayaking Instructor Trainer Level 3. As well, he is certified through the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC as a Guide Trainer and Level 3 Guide. He holds degrees in Education, Environmental Science, and Biology, and is an accredited Leave No Trace Trainer and Individual Conditioning Instructor.