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Special Guests

Mentors and Special Guests


TRAQS is honored and thrilled to offer our attendees the wisdom, skill, and mentoring by the following people for 2018:


James Manke, Greenland Qajaq Instructor

James Manke is an International Greenland Kayak Instructor living in Victoria who travels around the globe teaching Greenland and traditional kayak related skills. He teaches rolling, surfing and rough water clinics along with a wide range of skills building clinics.

James is an active member of the world class sea kayak group; The Hurricane Riders who seek out some of the largest conditions for sea kayakers, as well as helping improve the sport promoting Safety, Skill and Fun. View a video clip of his Grand Canyon run.

James has been in Greenland for the National Greenland Kayaking Competition as one of the first members of Team Canada to ever compete in Greenland. While he was there he filmed the experience to make a documentary on the competition. His aim to help spread awareness of a culture once lost.. the heart and soul of a sport loved and valued by so many today… kayaking.

Greg Stamer, Greenland Qajaq Instructor

From the Qajaq USA site: Greg Stamer is the founder and past-president of Qajaq USA. Greg has over twenty five years  of experience using Greenland-style paddles and equipment. He credits John Heath and Greenland Champion Maligiaq Padilla as his primary mentors.

In 2000, when the Greenland Championships were offered to foreign kayakers for the first time, I jumped at the chance.” Greg was invited in 2000 to attend a week-long Qaannat Kattuffiat training camp in Greenland to prepare for competition and has participated in two Greenland National Kayaking Championships, in 2000 and in 2002, winning two gold and two bronze medals. In both events Greg earned the most points in the individual rolling event for his age group and was the overall champion for his age group in 2000.

He is an annual participant in the grueling Evergreen Challenge which is a testament to the efficiency of his forward stroke as evidenced in his article posted in QajaqUSA.


Alison Sigethy, Greenland Qajaq Instructor

After a few years of “the other kayaking”, Alison was introduced to Greenland kayaking in 2005 and fell in love with it.  Only nine months later, after intensive and highly focused training, she landed in Sisimiut, Greenland to compete in the Greenland National Kayaking Championships.  Not only was she the first international woman to compete in all 9 events of the Championship, she brought home medals from 8 of those events.  Since the Championships of 2006, Alison has continued her deep involvement with Greenland kayaking as a mentor/instructor and embracing the Greenland collaborative outlook on life.

Alison has a graceful, easy, but powerful stroke and rolls graceful as ballet movements.  Though she is a talented and focused competitor, she is also a patient and insightful instructor who most often draws from her students much more than they think themselves capable of.

Benjamin Fontenot, Greenland Qajaq Paddle Designer/Maker & Instructor

Local sea kayaker, Greenland paddle maker, and photographer to the Southeast USA. Ben works as a lead guide and coach for Savannah Canoe and Kayak. He also owns BFPaddles, specializing in Greenland paddling and paddle making workshops.

Ben discovered sea kayaking on the Georgia coast in the summer of 2011. A tight knit community of paddlers and friends helped introduced him to an area perfect for full immersion into the sport. And from the time he purchased his first sea kayak, local excursions have taken him up and down barrier island stretches. Interconnecting the subtropical forested hammocks though the seemingly countless creeks, rivers, and inlets that make up the patchwork of Georgia’s, mostly wild coastline. The constant flood and ebb of the tide in such a low geographic area creates complex and evolving paddling environments. His favorite and most popular local feature is known as the The Triangle. A park and play tide race that forms in the Back River Inlet south of Tybee Island over the delta shaped sandbar.

“A passion for sharing and introducing people to wilderness and the sea made it feel natural to be an outdoors professional. There is nothing that can replace the feeling of being immersed in a natural environment, in your own element, in your own kayak”. As result, Ben began sea kayak guide instructor training almost immediately after he started paddling. Ever since, he’s been guiding, coaching, surfing, rolling, and making paddles in Savannah, Georgia. Ben is proudly sponsored and an ambassador for  Savannah Canoe and Kayak, Current Designs Kayaks, Lendal NA Paddles, and Sweet Protection. He is ACA certified L4 Coastal Kayak Instructor

John Rathwell, photographer

Ed Mann, Greenland Qajaq Instructor & Organizer

Ed holds an L4 ACA Open Water Instructor Certification and an ACA Traditional Skills Endorsement.  Simply stated, he is a passionate Greenland kayaking devotee.  Before moving to Florida, he was the President of the Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association, a principal kayak instructor for the Jersey Paddler, and instructor of rolling at the inaugural Garden State Sea Kayak Symposium. He mentors at other Greenlandic events, including the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat, Hudson River Greenland Festival and TIPS. When he’s not teaching, he is usually upside down in his kayak watching Manatees while he rolls.  Visit his Facebook page to learn more about Ed.

Fern White, Greenland Qajaq Instructor

Fern holds an L3 ACA Coastal Instructor Certification and an ACA Traditional Skills Endorsement, Adaptive Paddle and Trip Leader Training Endorsement, and ACA Instructor Certifications for Sit on Top Surfing and Stand Up Paddleboard.  She is passionately enthusiastic about helping others find joy and proficiency.

She has mentored at many Greenlandic events through the country, was an Organizer and Assistant Organizer for two new QajaqUSA events within the last four years.  Fern continues to learn from and assist Champion Traditional mentors at various venues, as well as instruct at events, symposiums, and near her home in Charleston, S.C..  She is fascinated with Greenlandic culture of storytelling, games, and beliefs, and incorporates those in her classes to help keep traditions alive.

DonWhite, Qajaq Instructor

Don attained his ACA L4 Open Water Coastal Instructor Certification with Dale Williams and Gordon Brown, and was named Kayaker of the Essentials of Month by the ACA in 2014.  He is a multi-discipline Instructor in Sit On Top Surfing and SUP as well.

Don is an instructor with the College of Charleston, as well as other organizations in Charleston.  He loves what he does, and it shows.

Kathy Altum, Yoga Instructor

For the past two years Kathy has been teaching Hatha Yoga, with an emphasis on restorative practice. Her teaching—and the direction it has taken—grew out of a need to heal her own body, mind and spirit following spinal fusion surgery in 2007, which forced her to retire from a 20-year career as a horse trainer. She went on to complete teacher-training courses from a number of highly respected yoga educators and institutions. She is now a sought-after instructor her own right, helping people restore balance to their lives through group classes and private session. You will find her enthusiasm and expertise a terrific way to start each day of the event.