Instructor Profiles: Jimmy Blakeney
As far as 2003 U.S. National Freestyle Kayak Champion Jimmy Blakeney is concerned, you can take his instruction tips standing or sitting.
A longtime ACA-certified kayak instructor, Blakeney, 38, has fully embraced the standup paddleboard world, developing an SUP curriculum based on his kayaking and surfing experience. This past summer he launched his new SUP school, New England Paddlesurf, to help people get the most out of the new craze. The school offers lessons on Massachusetts’ Merrimack and Charles Rivers, and along the New Hampshire coast.
There are a lot of similarities between kayaking and standup paddling, from proper posture and gripping your paddle to placing the blade in the water and engaging your torso,” he says. “The strokes in both are similar, just from a different angle.”
As with kayaking, he teaches standup paddleboarders to look where they want to go, and to engage their core muscles by rotating their shoulders and hips. He also advises them to keep their paddle in the water at all times, and to fully bury the paddle blade before each stroke. “Your board speed will keep you more stable than when you’re stalled out,” he says. “Like kayaking, the paddle also provides a stabilizing ‘tripod’ effect.”
Standup paddleboarders should keep their head centered over the board, with knees bent and back straight, and use their feet and toes for grip. “Don’t lock your knees or hunch forward at the waist,” he says. He also advocates a “hybrid” stance-front foot with toes pointed forward, back foot with toes pointed to board’s edge-in whitewater and surf, and says that boarders should learn to move their feet to adjust to different situations. “Kayaking and standup paddling are both all about being fluid,” he says. -Eugene Buchanan