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Puakea crew

 
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Maddie Spoto

Marketing Operations Manager
Southern California
Instagram: @maddiespoto

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, coaching the junior girls at OCC, surfing canoes and concentrating on where the sport of outrigger can go from here.

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Kelly Thompson schwartz

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
Instagram: @maikascott

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 watercraft…from canoes to motor boats to racing sailboats. 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 distance and 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, gardening and making hot sauce. More hot sauce content on IG at @culturehotsauce.  

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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), IVF Long Distance Championship in 2017 (getting 2nd place with NAC) and 17 US Championship Catalina Crossings. He has coached the NAC junior and men's teams since 2005 and is currently building a tiny home on wheels to travel the US to promote paddling with Puakea Designs. 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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leanne stanley

Canada
Instagram: @type1kanu

Growing up on Georgian Bay in Canada, Leanne has always loved the water. Though not introduced to paddling until 1998, the water has always had a calming yet invigorating influence on her. Over the past 20 years, she has won numerous National titles in marathon canoe and outrigger as well as several World Dragon Boat and Outrigger Sprint Championships, along with a win at Queen Lili, a 4th at Na Wahine O Ke Kai, and 4th at the 2017 inaugural World Va'a Distance Championships with Team Canada and 4th in the V1.

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PRODUCTION + DISTRIBUTION

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maika scott

Production Manager
Southern California
Instagram: @maikascott

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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Kasey Thompson

Distribution Manager
Southern California
Instagram: @kcthmpsn

Bio coming soon!