Mentors and Special Guests
TRAQS is honored and thrilled to offer our attendees the wisdom, skill, and mentoring by outstanding mentors over the years. This year, we welcome:
Helen Wilson, Greenland Qajaq Instructor
Helen Wilson is the owner of Greenland or Bust. She is internationally known for her rolling and traditional skills instruction. She has traveled to Greenland several times to participate in the Greenland National Kayaking Championship and/or to guide expeditions on the east, south and/or west coasts. Helen performs rolling demonstrations, presentations and instructs at events worldwide. She is the organizer of the US Storm Gathering Symposium.
Helen has two DVDs, Simplifying the Roll with Helen Wilson and Yoga for Outdoor People, and has written skills articles and features for several publications; including Sea Kayaker Magazine, The Masik, Ocean Paddler Magazine, Canoe & Kayak and Paddling Magazine. She is on the Board of Directors and the Secretary of Qajaq USA, and has transitioned into the President role on January 1, 2020. She is also the Editor of Qajaq USA’s publication, The Masik, and is the head of Qajaq USA’s Outreach Committee.
Helen is an ISKGA Coastal Guide and an ACA Instructor with an ACA Rolling Endorsement. She holds the DGI Certification (Denmark coach certification) and is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and a Wilderness First Responder. She is also the Curriculum Publications Managing Editor and a Field Instructor for NOLS.
For more, visit www.greenlandorbust.org.
Greg Stamer, Greenland Qajaq Instructor
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 owns BFPaddles which specializes 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.