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Mentors (past, present and future)

Sarah Apgar

Sarah came into Greenland style qajaqing the back way - through Allunaariaqattaarneq (that’s Ropes Gymnastics to the rest of us). One day, her dad (Evan), who is responsible for about 86.35% of her watercraft education, went to a paddle show and came home with a DVD of this guy in a black jumpsuit doing funny gymnastics moves on a pair of ropes tied to trees.  In response to her skeptical face he said something to the effect of “I’ll bet you can’t do that”. ~ Challenge accepted! ~ Over the next years, she and her brother (Nate) taught themselves as much as they could based on the DVD and started attending HRGF with their dad to meet and study “ropes” under the tutelage of such legends as Dave Sides, Maligiaq Padilla, and of course, the guy in the black jumpsuit - Dubside. It wasn’t long before the event mentors (many of whom are listed on this page!) got her into a greenland style qajaq and turned her one white water roll into a potpourri of greenland style rolls. Now she loves to see the look of triumph on people’s faces when they master a new ropes move and is looking forward to becoming as good a mentor on water as she is on ropes.

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Jeff Atkins

Paddlesports instructor, outdoor guide and adventure lover!

After a successful career as a Park Ranger, Jeff is now retired from public service, but continues to work as an outdoor industry professional. He loves coaching and leading trips. As an Instructor for the NC Outward Bound School, he leads expeditions around several parts of the USA. Jeff also holds several certifications including Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Master Educator, and Coastal Master Naturalist for SC. Paddlesports is his passion and he loves to spread the “infectious” recreation activity to others. He believes in having fun and helping others to expand their confidence and skills by while learning. “There is nothing like the feeling of seeing a person smile because they just did something they didn’t think they could do”.

Will Bigelow

Will is a founder of the Massachusetts Walden Qajaq Society and with them brought to Delmarva a unique instructional method to help to teach rolling. That style is now used by many mentors and in many traditional kayaking events. Will has been coming to Delmarva since it became an all traditional event and is one of our most sought out mentors. Will’s friendliness is infectious and he quickly puts his students at ease and makes rolling fun..

Bev Cosslett

Bev is an ACA L4 Coastal Kayak Instructor with the Traditional Skills Endorsement.

Javier Castaño

As a former National Champion of Gymnastics in Colombia, South America, Javier has found many similarities between that Olympic sport and Greenland rolling. “In both sports you have to be fit, understand the technique, and follow the directives of your instructor,” said Javier. “Then, your brain has to win the fight against our instinct to survive. In other words, you have to arch your back and try to drown yourself.” He has trained with some of the best rolling instructors in this country, and has developed his own technique that starts with exercise on land, talking about the Inuit people. Javier is an ACA L3 Coastal Kayak Instructor with Rolling and Trip Leader Endorsements. He lives in New York City. “The Hudson and East River are the best to roll with Manhattan in the background,” Javier concluded. “Relax, breath.”

Christopher Crowhurst

Christopher Crowhusrt, an ex-pat Brit living in Minnesota USA, is slightly obsessed with Greenland kayaking. In 2010 he founded Qajaq Rolls, a not-for-profit that promotes the traditional art of Greenland-style kayak (qajaq) rolling. Christopher has developed videos, diagrams and written instruction to help paddlers learn the traditional Greenland rolls, and promotes them through his blog 

In 2015 Christopher partnered with his father Nick to form another not-for-profit venture and created the Shrike Kayak as a means to share their love of the Greenland style kayak designs. Their customizable designs are available for free at   

Renee DuFresne

is a Director on the board of Qajaq USA, holding positions of Membership coordinator, and also holding positions as an organizer, and the events committee representative for The Traditional Paddlers Gathering.

Renee loves playing Inuit Games, both on and off the ropes and water. Whether it is the artistry of the forward stroke, or the beauty of a well executed roll, passing on, preserving and sharing the traditional paddling and culture are her passion.


Not just passionate about Greenland paddling, Renee is an ACA Level 3 Instructor, with both Traditional Skills and Rolling Endorsements. She also holds a BCU 3 Star.

Ben Fuller

Paddling kayaks since about 1972, whitewater, sea kayaking since 78, SOF for about ten years. Built in glass, wood, sof. Like to race. Professionally a museum curator / maritime historian. QUSA treasurer. And a bunch of certificates from ACA, BCU, State of Maine and Coast Guard. Still learning.

Peter Gengler

Peter was handed a Greenland paddle by a friend about 20 years ago and it altered his life path. Within months, he had made a few paddles which in turn led to a kayak kit building project. Building lea to attending the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat in 1997 which in turn really opened his eyes to both kayak design and the collaboration among that community but also to the depth of Greenland Kayaking skills. He just started designing his 13th kayak. 

Peter took 3 years to learn to roll with a Euro-paddle! Once he got his roll he wanted to teach others and try to improve the methods of teaching to make this skill more accessible to others (easier and faster!). Delmarva proved to be the most positive environment not only to learn new skills but to learn how to teach. Peter has been teaching rolling skills at winter pool sessions in Rhode Island for 15 yrs, and Delmarva for over 10 years as well as more recently at the Hudson River Greenland Festival and SSTIKS. 

Peter lives in Rehoboth Massachusetts and paddles south eastern New England waters. He also is a passionate saltwater fly flailer from his kayak and is an avid short film maker/GoPro enthusiast. Don't ask him about his passion for mountain biking.

Jack Gilman

Jack Gilman has been paddling for over 30 years. He got his first taste of Greenland style here at the 2000 Delmarva Paddler’s retreat and has been an avid convert ever since. He started building boats in 1999, with a Chesapeake West River 180 stitch & glue. Then it was a Greenland style SOF from Bob Boucher’s video, a Guillemot stripper, an Alaskan recovery boat, a baidarka from Wolfgang Brinck’s book, and two other Greenland style boats, one from Robert Morris’s book and one self-designed. Jack says, “It’s a wonderful addiction".

Pete Hohmann

Pete is an ACA and British Canoeing instructor, including endorsements to coach adaptive paddlesports and rolling.  Pete lives in Woodbridge, Virginia and is a retired pastor and high school Science teacher.   He now works part-time for Prince William County Parks and Recreation, teaching kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddleboard. 

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Kevin Kehoe


Lisa Kellogg

Lisa, a career cartographer and life coach, loves helping people turn right side up in qajaqs, and in life. Hooked by the grace and elegance of both the Greenland paddle and the mentoring ways, she thinks helping people learn to roll and take their skills to a new level is one of life’s treats!

Ed Lamon

Ed likes nothing better than a day on the water. He was introduced to the elegant simplicity of the GP and the beauty of SOFs at the first Hudson River Greenland Festival. He is happiest while sharing his enthusiasm for qajaqing. Ed’s easy going style is much appreciated in easing new students anxiety when learning the roll.

Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy has no paddling credentials at all. (says no one! Dave’s caring approach to mentoring is much appreciated and has been for years.)

He is known to most as "Madi Murphy's Dad", and to some as "Not Your Unkel Dave."

He is a BCU zero-star, and a proponent of the "Team Zero" Approach. He has served on the mentoring team at the Hudson River Greenland Festival since it's inception. Over the years, he has learned from the best, and therefore seeks to "pay it forward" by passing along what he has learned.

Dave enjoys making skin-on-frame kayaks, paddles, and wood/epoxy kayaks.

Dave paddles Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes region of New York State. He completed a weekend-by-weekend tour of the Erie Canal, with "Unkel Dave".

Madi Murphy

We’ve watched Madi as young girl grow into a young woman. Always the apple of her Daddy’s eye they come to Delmarva as a team. Madi has become an excellent instructor both in the water and on the ropes. Madi’s enthusiasm is as infectious as her smile. She can frequently been seen in the pool passing the love of Greenland paddling on to younger paddlers, who adore her too.

Robin Morgan

Robin has been kayaking for 28 years, and kayak rolling for over 10. This will be her third year to assist Retreat participants by matching them to the best available mentor after evaluating their desired rolling accomplishments, current skill level and kayak.

Terry O'Malley

Terry is a former Qajaq USA Public Relations Committee chairperson and past president of Qajaq USA. He has served as an Board Advisor since 2008 and was appointed to Board Member in October 2010. 
Terry took up paddling in 1994 while on a vacation in Maine with his wife Kim and son Liam. His introduction to Greenland style kayaking began in 2006 after he stumbled upon the Qajaq USA website. His interest were piqued by the similarities between the qajaqs and the currachs that he had known about since childhood. After attending that year’s Delmarva Paddlers Retreat, and sampling the various offerings from Surveying Qajaqs to on-water instruction; the hook was set. 
When not travelling around the world with his engineering work, Terry can be found plying the inland and offshore waters of New Jersey and New York.

Milton Puryear

Milton has been part of the Greenlandic qajaqing community in the US for going on 20 years. He is very attached to his skin on frame qajaq, literally, and enjoys teaching rolling and strokes.

Dave Sides

“Unkel Dave” Sides Greenland Ropes Gymnastics, Sea Kayaker, Rock Climber Former Gymnastics Coach, Teacher, Computer Systems Project Manager Motto: “Pay it Forward”, from the 2000 movie starring Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, and Helen Hunt. The goal is to help others by passing along what you know.

Cathy Smith

Cathy Smith

Cathy Smith is a full-time personal trainer and fitness instructor in Ellicott City, Maryland. She has 29 years of experience sharing her passion for fitness with clients ranging in age from 5 to 85.  Specializing in functional training techniques, Cathy teaches her clients how to move better through improved muscle and core strength, flexibility, and balance. Blending her fitness experience with her new-found love for kayaking, Cathy teaches paddlers how to feel better in their boat longer!

Peter Strand

Pete Strand built his first kayak, a skin on frame, in the summer of 1962.  It was covered with surplus sailcloth from the tall ship USCG Eagle.  Since then he has off and on built 67 more, including one in The Czech Republic.  Pete is a retired Engineer from the Paper Industry, a second career after nine years as an Air Force Pilot.  He and his wife Rhonda live in Valdosta, Georgia with their dogs, two Borzoi and a Silken Windhound.  He presently volunteers for The Veterans Administration and does woodworking.  Pete has done skinning demonstrations for several years and has built several of the QUSA Qajaqs.


Erin Sunseri

Erin jumps into things with 2 feet first and kayaking was no exception. In February 2016 she decided to become a sea kayaker and bought her first kayak. In the summer of 2016 she learned about Greenland paddling and discovered her love of rolling. She competed in Greenland in 2017 in rolling, ropes, and the short distance race. She is enthusiastic about Greendand style paddling and excited to help others learn new skills.

Bill Voss

For 2018 Bill is coming as a participant. But we are leaving his Bio up because we know he'll be back!

A dedicated paddler Bill is a long time supporter of Delmarva and other Qajaq USA events. A gentle giant of a man Bill’s easy nature makes him a favorite mentor.  Bill Voss caught the “Greenland” addiction at Delmarva in 2010.  He drove down from New Hampshire to build an F1 skin-on-frame kayak, with no real interest in Greenland paddles.  He left with a kayak he loved, a Greenland paddle he came to love, and the beginnings of a Greenland Chest Scull Roll.  Since then he thinks he has attended more rolling practices than paddles, and proves that even a big inflexible guy can roll with enough practice and mentoring.

Jake Vitak

Jake is an ACA L3 Coastal Kayak Instructor and L1 Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer

The Crew

Chris Beckman

Chris, a resident of the Delaware coast, is often seen paddling off Cape Henlopen acting as tour guide for visiting seakayakers. He’s been paddling Greenland style kayaks since the late 90’s and canoes and row boats for much longer. Chris enjoys being on the water. He has learned from and paddled with many excellent kayakers over the years and in the spirit of Traditional Paddling is always glad to pass that knowledge on. He is lead coordinator for the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat, but it's Mike and Sue who do all the work. He works with a certain Lehigh classmate to build and maintain the website. 

Sue Byerly

In 2012, a dear friend (Laura) put a Greenland paddle in her hands and said, “Try this!” It wasn’t long before she was hooked.

A lifelong resident of Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Sue spent many of her childhood summers in a rowboat on the Chester River. After a few years where life kept her away from being on the water, she picked up a used recreational kayak and soon began taking formal sea kayak training. Her enthusiasm and love for kayaking has taken her to such far away places as Georgian Bay, Canada, the Florida Keys, a Manhattan circumnavigation, as well as paddling the endlessly diverse waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Delmarva peninsula. Sue is always up for a challenge, whether working towards and achieving the BCU 3* Sea award, exploring the exhilarating world of whitewater kayaking, or pushing her limits on long distance paddling.


Sue began helping out behind the scenes at Delmarva Paddlers Retreat in 2013 and happily pitches in wherever needed. It is a perfect fit for her varied work experience as a bookkeeper, receiving manager, and marketing assistant.

Mike Hamilton

Mike is an ACA L4 Coastal Kayaking Instructor with the Traditional Kayaking and Rolling Endorsements. In addition to paddling and teaching, Mike is active with QajaqUSA, building traditional skin on frame Greenland kayaks and carving paddles. A native Marylander, Mike has paddled many areas of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the southern coastal states from Delaware to Florida. Mike spends much of his summer exploring the Virginia Coastal Reserve Barrier Islands from his part-time home on Chincoteague Island, VA.

John Huber


Catriona Miller

Abbie Rooper

Ben Rooper

Laura Ventura

I fell in love with the "skinny stick", traditional paddling style and it's extended community of paddlers over a decade ago. My first Delmarva Paddler's Retreat experience was in 2003 and in 2007 I was fortunate to attend DPR's first qajaq building class with Brian Schulz. Years later, the second build was a skin on frame baidarka. Expedition kayaking has been a passion with trips to Rhode Island, the Oregon coast, San Juan Islands, Georgian Bay, Ontario and the Saguenay Fjord, Quebec. The beautiful Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay are my "home" waters. Admittedly, whitewater kayaking has become a recent passion, but only builds on the traditional skills which will always remain as the foundation and a part of my paddling enjoyment.

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