The Traditional Paddlers Gathering

This Year’s Mentors:

In addition to our usual crew of local mentors, we’re pleased to welcome Dubside, Chuck Smith, and Henry Davies to the 2020 Traditional Paddlers Gathering.



An internationally known authority on Greenland rolling techniques and Greenland rope gymnastics, Dubside is easily recognizable at any event by his completely black attire and distinctive beard. He spends a portion of each year in Greenland interfacing with Greenlanders and learning more about their culture and their kayaking skills, and no doubt teaching a bit also. The remainder of his time he spends traveling throughout North and South America, Europe and Japan giving presentations, demonstrations and instruction for symposia, clubs and outfitters. Dubside is also the creator of the website.


Chuck Smith, owner of Aluu Paddles hails from Michigan to join us again this year with a special build.  Chuck will lead us from the  initial stages of Skin-on-frame building, all the way to a sea worthy product over the next few events.  We are lucky to have him at this stage of the build, as we’ll be covering everything from measurements and fit, to gunnels and rib bending at TPG this year.  Spend a session, or spend all day with Chuck, you’re going to learn the nitty gritty about building your own by helping him build our sample.  Not to mention, Chuck is an awesome on water instructor for Skin-on-Frame rescues. Don’t own a Skin-on-Frame? You should still know how to rescue one, because one of your paddling friends does own one.



Henry Davies is an ACA Level 4 coastal kayak instructor with Traditional Skills Endorsement and a kayak guide in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. He likes to teach rolling, strokes and maneuvers with the Greenland paddle, and encourages the development of those skills for use in real life conditions. Henry has attended the Qajaq USA Michigan Training Camp since 2004, and has been a mentor there for an unknown number of those years.

Local Mentors

Among our crew of local mentors are:

Tom Wile was raised in Wisconsin.  Another land-locked sea kayaker who likes to explore bigger water as often as his schedule allows.  After building a skin-on-frame Qajaq and being introduced to traditional paddling he took an interest in Greenland rope gymnastics and continues practicing in the hopes of one day soon completing a Qivittuusaarneq.


Pete Kuhn, an ACA Level Four coastal kayak instructor and guide who is well-known for coaching mid-west paddlers on rolling techniques. Pete is also renowned for his ability to foam out kayaks to make them fit the paddler, an essential technique for people learning to roll. Pete is also as comfortable teaching rolling as he is teaching strokes and maneuvers, he runs several classes dedicated to traditional strokes, paying particular attention to paddle extension.


Sipke Deboer, originally hails from Friesland, but has lived in the US since a young boy. He’s passionate about long distance, endurance activities and has completed over thirty American Birkebeiner ski races. He’s kayaked the entire length of the Missouri river, and is currently on his final section hiking the Appalachian Trail. When he’s at home in Minnesota, he builds skin-on-frame Qajaq, harpoons, and Aleutian and Greenland paddles. Fully outfitted with Inuit hunting gear, Sipke is an accomplished harpoon thrower, and he’s sure to change the rules every year, so expect a different game this year. Sipke participated in the Greenland National Qajaq Championship in 2017.


Tim Manning, kayak builder, paddle carver and mentor has been a regular at the Gathering for many years. Tims enthusiasm for kayaking is infectious. Tim is an ACA L2 instructor, and also assists TPG with it’s “Eagle Scout” kayaking merit badge program alongside Scout leaders Bill Ness and Chuck Rose.


Mike Woida is a builder of kayaks. You normally find him in a gorgeous strip built. He has repairing several kayaks that most people would have considered a total loss, and got them back afloat. He primary paddles the waters of Minnesota, but visits the salty stuff when he can. He is also an avid downhill skier. 



Peter Strand is an excellent local mentor, co-organizer of the Traditional Paddlers Gathering and our resident photographer.  Hailing from Wisconsin, Peter teaches at many local events, and was part of the crew at the in Greenland National Championship, 2017.


Renee DuFresne is a director of the board of Qajaq USA,  the Qajaq USA Membership Coordinator and TPG lead organizer.  Renee loves playing Inuit Games, both on and off the water. Whether it is the artistry of the forward stroke, or the beauty of a well executed roll, passing on, preserving and sharing the traditional paddling and culture are her passion. Not just passionate about Greenland paddling, Renee is an ACA Level 3 Instructor, with both Traditional Skills and Rolling Endorsements. She also holds a BCU3*. Renee participated in the Greenland National Qajaq Championship in 2017.