Meet Our Instructors


All our instructors are PSUPA Certified and have First Aid/CPR certificates.


Jeff Gassen – Instructor – A native of the Seattle area, Jeff also works as an automotive technician, photographer for his dad’s business and previously taught SUP at Surf Ballard. Jeff can be seen regularly spotted at local SUP races, surfing freighter waves or taking it easy on the beach in Ballard.  Specialities: Flat Water, Racing, Surfing.




Meet our friendly instructors

Joseph McColskey – Instructor – Joe was one of Rob’s first students. He soon became addicted to SUP which led him on a mission to get in shape. Several years later Joe is one of most stoked paddlers we know paddling daily on Shilshole Bay near his home in Ballard.  Joe recently retired from teaching Japanese at Ballard High School and has introduced many of his students to SUP.  He’s currently pursuing a career as a personal trainer.  Joe is on our racing team and is PSUPA certified. Specialities: Flat Water, Surfing, Racing.




Jon Brown – Instructor – When not surfing the coast, making his own sailboat, SUPs and surfboards, Jon works as an elementary school teacher in Seattle.  Orignally teaching for Stoke Harvester, we’re stoked to have Jon on our team. A native of Tacoma, Jon now lives in Ballard, a short distance from freighter wave surfing spots. Jon co-teaches our SUP Surf Camps. A regular fixture at local races, Jon always places well with his surf style board.  Specialities; Flat Water, Racing, Surfing.




Darrell Kirk – Ambassador – One of the most stoked paddlers we’ve ever met, Darrell travels the world with his inflatable SUP spreading his stoke. He’s paddled through the locks in St Louis, in a salt mine in Missouri 400′ below (see article in SUP Magazine), on the Great Salt Lake, the Salton Sea and was asked by A&E to be part of a show paddling the Mississippi.  He’s also first person to play a banjo on a SUP (see left). Visit his website, Stand Up Paddle the World to see the many places he’s paddled and listen to his Podcast interviews of local paddlers. PSUPA. Specialites: Flat Water, surf, racing, touring.




David French – Instructor – An artist with the Patricia Rovzar Gallery in Seattle, David is known for his easy going personality. David has been an instructor with us for over 3 years.  He paddles 6-8 miles daily on Puget Sound. Specialities – Flat water and touring.






Alex Vaughan – Instructor – Born in the Philippines, raised in Alaska, Alex spent his summers on the west side of Oahu (Waianae/Makaha). In Seattle for 16yrs, Alex is an all around waterman enjoying SUP, outrigger canoe and diving. He has placed in the Round the Rock, the Urban Surf series and OC events.  A SUP instructor for 6 years, Alex paddles “for my love of the outdoors and connecting to nature by respecting everything from the mountain to the sea.”  Alex is on our racing team. PSUPA. Specialities: Racing, surfing, downwinding, flat water.


“I had an amazing time during the 1.5 hours and would definitely like to continue my SUP journey. Alex was very encouraging and really customized the experience to my comfort and skill level. I was really nervous prior to the class but Alex helped me to conquer my fear in the very beginning and the class was smooth sailing afterwards. I was surprised at how much I learned in 90 minutes and how much fun I had.”           Yuan Chen, July 2016

“I have to thank you times 50 for connecting me up with Alex for my lesson!!!! He was awesome and it was beyond fun. I am so so happy that I got a lesson with your group, and Alex was phenomenal and made everything very accessible.” Tamara, May 2016



Luke BurrittInstructor – Raised in a remote off the grid cabin in New Mexico, Luke has his seasons figured out – he works as a climbing guide in Hueco, Texas in the winter and as a rigger for the boating industry in Seattle in the summer. He lives in his VW van ‘George’ and once was once the lead rigger for the New Zealand sailing team. Luke is on our racing team and is also sponsored by Blue Shed Shaping.  Luke is also training to participate in the Race to Alaska for 2017.  Specialities: Racing, surfing, touring, flat water.





Debbie Gollnick – Debbie started as one of our students and also attended our 2015 Oahu Surf Camp. An IT by trade, Debbie has also been training this year to climb Mt Rainier.  Debbie is also PSUPA certified. Specialties: Flat Water, surf and tidal rapids.






Sean Nordquist – For most of my personal life, fitness and wilderness recreation were platforms for exploration and personal challenge. I’ve been passionate about backpacking, trail running, skiing, bicycle and motorcycle touring and whitewater canoe touring. My career paths have complimented these pursuits. My most influential and challenging yet most rewarding job was working for the USAP for 3 Antarctic winters. Hard work and play have led to injuries, so I became a personal trainer to help others heal. SUP has also been a great platform of fitness and healing. My new challenge, the most rewarding yet was to become a father and stay at home dad. PSUPA certified. Specialties: Surf, downwind, racing, touring.







Business Manager Christy Cox keeps the business running behind the scenes doing our bookkeeping, web design, copy editing, and scheduling.  She has assisted small businesses and worked in communications and publishing for over a decade, is the co-founder of the Professional Stand Up Paddle Association and was the co-founder and organizer of the Hobuck Hoedown Surf Competition, St Paddles Day and has managed our Monday Evening SUP Races in summer.

Contact: / 206.465.7167





Permanent link to this article: