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Maddie Spoto

Business Manager, Marketing
Southern California
Instagram: @folkdreams

In 2002, Maddie was done running circles on the track team and decided to give paddling a try…there was no turning back. Growing up at Newport Aquatic Center (NAC) under the likes of Billy Whitford and Sam Couch she received experience in flatwater kayaking, outrigger, standup paddling, coaching and general boat awareness. NAC is where she also met Johnny and started to work on the branding for Puakea Designs. From there her role at Puakea Designs has grown into a lot of different things, but Johnny will tell you she is the boss. With a background in graphic design, Maddie has helped bring to life the Puakea Designs brand and lifestyle over the past few years. Her favorite thing about the paddling lifestyle is the ohana, plus the opportunity to share the aloha and the sport of paddling with those all over the world through Puakea Designs.

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Sales reps

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Jimmy austin

Oahu, Hawaii
Instagram: @aukina3

Growing up at Outrigger Canoe Club, Jimmy was immersed into all things water at a very young age by his father. Starting with canoe surfing and prone paddle boarding around 15 years old, he soon picked up flat water kayaking, where he met Johnny Puakea, with HCKT. He loved kayaking, but it was not out in the open ocean, so he moved to ocean kayaking. After losing his job in 2009,Jimmy went all in training OC1 paddling with the mentorship of Johnny Puakea. In 2012, Jimmy achieved his goal of winning Molokai to Oahu, setting the course record. Now, Jimmy is enjoying being a dad, paddling in the 6mans and concentrating on where the sport of outrigger can go from here.

 

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Kelly Thompson

Southern California
Instagram: @kelthompson

Kelly has been paddling since her sophomore year of high school and has loved every season paddling for the Newport Aquatic Center (NAC). Her favorite event has always been the Catalina Race in Newport Beach, but the Queen Liliuokalani race on the Big Island will always hold a special place in her heart. She also coaches for NAC and is the Operations Manager for the boathouse. The paddling lifestyle is her only lifestyle! She loves the community that they have been built in Southern California, the relationships they have with other clubs and the other associations around the world. Kelly has been in the canoe rep business for most of her paddling life and loves getting the opportunity to make new friends in the paddling community!

 

 

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COACHES

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Maika Scott

Southern California

Coming from a long line of paddlers in his family, Maika grew up paddling in Hawaii Kai, racing with the Hui Nalu 12&U grom squad. He went on to paddle prone and race in sailing canoes. He has competed in races like the Molokai Solo, Molokai Relay and most recently the Te Aito. His favorite event so far is racing Hawaiki Nui Va’a with his current team, Newport Aquatic Center (NAC). When Maika is not on the water, you will most likely find him in his shop repairing all kinds of watercrafts. He has been a huge contributor in the Puakea hybrid paddle manufacturing. The things he loves most about the paddling lifestyle are the traveling and the culture. 

 

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Dave KRÜGER

Southern California
Instagram: @pastadave

Dave has been paddling since 2010 with the Newport Aquatic Center. He has also paddled with teams like 404, Team USA Dragon Boat, and POCA for world sprints. His favorite events to compete in so far are Hawaiki Nui and Olamau. Dave’s favorite thing about the paddling lifestyle is being around the ocean all of the time and traveling to great places to race. The community and family of fellow paddlers, the overall culture and the passion for the sport are just a few of the reasons why he loves paddling. You will usually see Dave out on a launch coaching paddling and rowing to athletes of all ages and levels. 

 

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jimi spoto

Northern California
Instagram: @jpspoto

Jimi has been paddling with the Newport Aquatic Center (NAC) since 2000, starting with flatwater kayak and made the transition to outrigger in 2004. Since then he has competed in 5 Molokai Hoe crossings, Olamau (2013), Hawaiki Nui Va'a (2014, 2015) and sixteen US Championship Catalina Crossings. He has coached the NAC junior and men's teams since 2005 and is currently training for IVF Long Distance Championship in Tahiti in June 2017. To him, paddling is about being apart of something bigger than himself - "being able to help others and to be able to compete against the best paddlers in the sport is very humbling."

 

 
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CHRIS SOWDEN

North Carolina
Instagram: @chrissowden14

Coming from a competitive cycling background, Chris started paddling with Carolina Paddleboard Co. 3 years ago. Since then he has been paddling competitively for 2 years, competing in events like the Liberty Challenge in 2016 with Johnny and 4 friends from Carolina Paddleboard Co. coming in top 5, just behind the best teams in the sport! Recently he has joined Team Puakea, to lend us his extensive knowledge in athletic training, as well paddling training with the guidance of Johnny. His favorite thing about the paddling lifestyle is getting to race with his friends, meeting new people who enjoy paddling as much as he does and creating fun memories around the sport. 


 

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Paolo Ameglio

Florida
Instagram: @watermanpaolo

Born in Panama, Paolo spent much of his time on the Pacific waters of its isthmus. He found competitive paddling as an adult and has been active in the sport for the past 15 years. As a member of Team USA Dragon Boat, he has become a part of the coaching staff for the national crew. Outrigger paddling has been an evolution as he discovered the benefits of small boat paddling to improve his performance in both the OC-6 and dragon boat. The feel of community and friendship that comes from this sport is one of the main passions in his life. Every time he has the opportunity to work with someone new and watch them grow, he also grows as a coach and as a paddler.

 
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Hana Tojo

Web + Accounts
Southern California - Pacific Northwest
Instagram: @hanatojo

Hana was living in manhattan (new york city) not beach. Where they were first introduced to outrigger. While being an avid water person growing up in Santa Cruz, CA they fell in love with the pacific from day one. Surfing, junior guards and skateboarding were some of Hana’s favorite things to do. They even became pro am for skateboarding at one point. With all of that said living in a giant city with a friend who asked them to try this outrigger thing. They couldn’t refuse a chance to get back on the water (even if that water was the hudson river) just 2 blocks from their home. No trains to the beach that took 2 hours to get to. One practice and they were hooked, that’s all it took. That was in 2010. Once 2016 came around it was time to move back to cali! Where they linked up with Maddie, Jimi, and Dave some amazing peeps they met at the Liberty race. Joined up with NAC for some fun times and some grueling races. Puakea designs came after they closed their business in manhattan of 7 years. They were well versed in web design and accounts. Puakea designs is and always will be a type of home for them. It was a saving grace of sorts. Their favorite race to this day has to be Catalina but there are still plenty of races ahead to contend with. 

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Production

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Bronson Napoleon

Hybrid Paddles
Southern California and Hawaii
Instagram: @keypithawaiian

Paddling since 8 years old, Bronson got his start with family-owned club Kai ‘Ehitu Canoe Club under Papa Kimitete and Uncle Richard Kimitete in Kailua-Kona and then under his Grandfather’s brother, Ira Kekaualua Sr. and Barbara Kekaualua on Hui Wa’a ‘O Waiakea Canoe Club in Hilo. Now he paddles with the Newport Aquatic Center (NAC) on the mainland while attending college. His favorite event so far is the WaterWalker Gorge OC6 race because it is an epic race, full of excitement and adventure. Paddling for Bronson, is not just a race or a work out, it's a lifestyle that gives him the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of his ancestors. An art that has been passed down for generations, he looks forward to waking up everyday knowing he has one more day to get on the water, to continue to learn and be humbled in the blessings that Akua (God) continues to provide. He is grateful to be able to share the spirit of Aloha with everyone he meets. The love of paddling is in his heart, but more importantly it is part of his DNA.

 

Kala Diaz

Hybrid Paddles
Southern California and Hawaii
Instagram: @kala.diaz

Paddling since he was 14 years, Kala has paddled on Saint Louis High School's JV and Varsity teams, Hui Nalu's Jr. Team and the Newport Aquatic Center (NAC) Men’s team. His favorite race so for is the Molokai Hoe, when there are bumps! His favorite about the sport of paddling is Challenging yourself in different conditions and experiencing places from the unique perspective of being in a canoe. The bond you build with the guys who experience it and struggle along side you is pretty awesome too. 



 

 
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Hayden Ramler

Media Artist
Hawaii
Instagram: @haydenramler

Coming Soon!