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Tino Specht freestyling on the Deerfield River
Tino Specht freestyling on the Deerfield River


by Karen Blom

Tino Specht freestyling on the Deerfield River
Tino Specht freestyling on the Deerfield River

Charlemont, MA -- Members of Zoar Outdoor’s Team Z are making splashes in the paddling headlines this year. Zoar has worked hard to support and help further the paddling careers of its staff to a national level. Zoar started Team Z five years ago as a way to support its select staff.  Team Z members work as paddling instructors for the Zoar Instruction School and have demonstrated excellence in their field. In recognition of their hard work and time spent on the river perfecting their technique, several Team Z members have been recently honored.

Tino Specht, local kid who learned to paddle on the Deerfield River with Zoar Outdoor, has gained national recognition as a Shred Ready Team member and the elite Global Team for Level 6.  Paddling industry manufactures reward individual who have demonstrated outstanding performance in the world of paddling with team memberships. This entitles them to free gear, entry fees for competition, travel costs and at times stipends. ”It is every paddlers’ dream to be sponsored by a couple of companies”, states Specht. Specht divides his time between Chile in the winter working as a coach for New River Academy and Canada where he teaches kids to paddle on the Ottawa River for the summer. Recently, Specht was one of four kayakers nationally selected by World Kayak to represent paddling interests at the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in New York City.

Elaine Campbell gave up here career as a teacher and now travels the country competing in every freestyle event she can get to. She is sponsored by Shred Ready and is a member of Team Wave Sport. When she is not on the road, which is most of the year, she paddles at home on the Deerfield River sharing her passion with other up and coming racers.

Jim Sullivan, the silent, but deadly type has been racking up wins over the years. His quiet demeanor fools one into thinking he can’t be that good. But watch out, he’s an awesome kayaker! He is a member of the Jackson Kayak Regional Team.  He also teaches full time for Zoar Outdoor where he manages Team Z keeping a full race schedule. During the winter he’s out west tearing up the slopes at Big Sky Montana. 

Janet Cowie, Director of Instruction at Zoar Outdoor oversees it all and makes sure that her instructors are at the top of their game for teaching and racing.  As a World Kayak Ambassador, American Canoe Association Instructor Trainer Educator and member of the Safety, Education and Instruction national committee her work guarantees that Zoar’s staff and students are getting the best instruction in the world of paddling. She also ensures that Zoar’s mission “inspiring people to experience sustainable outdoor adventures that build strong communities" is fulfilled at every event and in every class.

Zoar Outdoor’s Paddling School has been making access to kayaking or canoeing much easier for the public with programs designed for kids and parents from beginner to advanced levels.  Zoar’s increased outreach efforts will bring paddling to a wider sector of the community and help the overall health of the sport both regionally and nationally. For more information see www.kayaklesson.com or www.zoaroutdoor.com.

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