ABOUT THE OWNERS:
MARNA POWELL is an ACA Level III Coastal Kayak instructor with the Adaptive Paddling Endorsement and formerly a Necky Pro Paddler. Before founding Kayak Zak’s, she was the lead kayak instructor with North Coast Adventures for six years and she created the Instruction Committee for Explore North Coast Sea Kayakers Association. She has taught both on-water classes and been a speaker at past events such as the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium in Port Townsend, WA. Marna was one of four organizers of the Trinity River Freestyle Rodeo under NOWR and later, American Whitewater, and chaired the races for HSU’s Humboldt Bay Paddlefest for it’s first four years. She is also an EMT with an interest in wilderness first aid. She says her two claims to fame are being the person who brought cardboard kayak racing to Humboldt County and helmets to the heads of local sea kayakers! Both endeavors initially took a lot of peer pressure and arm-twisting before becoming popular. Common quotes include,“I will never be the world’s greatest kayaker, but I may be able to teach you to be that person” and "If I can kayak then anyone can!" An adaptive kayaker herself, Powell's passions are promoting kindness to animals, and getting people on the water who never dreamed they might be able to kayak.
Before blowing his shoulder, MICHAEL POWELL was an accomplished whitewater paddler and surf kayaker. He wass also the guy in the blue “NC 17 Competition” in the NC Kayaks ad. He is a volunteer fireman with Orick Volunteer Fire Department. Mostly he likes riding his Ducati, as seen in this picture, and being Marna's "Man of Steel" as he is an excellent metal fabricator and welder. Check out the custom aluminum kayak trailer when you visit Kayak Zak's. This is some of Michael's beautiful and functional design work.
Rich Lilley, Program Assistant, Site Supervisor and "Dock Boy." Rich lives for the outdoors and especially watersports. His first love is board surfing but he is more than happy to kayak, rock climb, hike, bike,sail, fish, or just take the dogs for a walk. Rich has led bicycle tours for NOLS, and traveled the world leading all kinds of outdoor trips. His extensive knowledge of wildlife and the sea make him a huge asset on our guided tours. Rich rebuilt and was caretaker of the Point Montara Lighthouse for twenty years, now part of Hosteling International. Another animal lover, Rich is often found caring for someone else's pet or helping out at the zoo. Rich seems to know everybody. There may only be three people in California's outdoor sports network that Rich Lilley has not yet met.
Matt Tobin, Program Assistant, Site Supervisor and "Dock Boy." Matt's first passion is probably diving, a Certified Dive Master, he is more qualified than any of us in terms of water rescue training. When not working on the water for pay he is on it for fun, utilizing his kayak for crabbing, fishing and scuba diving. Matt heads up our Klamath division and if you don't find him on water you will find him near it playing disc golf or relaxing with his other love, his dog, Red Tobin. Bronze metal casting and metal arts are Matt's other pasttimes.It appears the whole crew is hooked on fire, water and loves animals!
Step Up for Youth:
Kayak Zak's provides summer jobs for local youth under the Step Up program. We don't pay very well but they have a very groovy summer and get to play with kayaks on their lunch breaks!
Other Instructors and People we might refer you to:
DICK WOLD is a legend in the industry. His lengthy resume includes: Six-times U.S. Wave Ski Champion, 1993 World Surf Kayak Champion, 4th in the world in 2003 and 9th in 2005, Five-times U.S. Surf Kayak Champion, over 30 whitewater river first decents, he taught kayaking at Humboldt State University for over 20 years, and there is so much more. Dick is the owner and designer of Wold Ski Custom. His surf kayak designs continue to perform and win competitions across the world. We are lucky to have Dick help out each year and teach some surf zone classes for Kayak Zak's participants.
GARY HULL is an ACA Advanced Whitewater Instructor who caught the kayaking bug from friend Greg Higgins over ten years ago. He is both an avid paddler and a devoted husband and father. He regularly kayaks in the rivers of Southern Oregon and Northern California with his wife, Mary, and their two sons, Craig and Kyle. Owner/operator of Redwood Curtain Kayaking, Gary also volunteers his time as the chief instructor for the Del Norte High Whitewater Club. Gary received his ACA instructor certification from Mary DeRiemer in 2001, and works as an alternate instructor at the Otter Bar Lodge in Forks of Salmon. He has taught elementary and high school social studies and math for 20 years and also has an intense passion for tele-skiing in the off-season. Gary and his family live on the middle fork of the Smith River and enjoy boating all year.
HELEN (AQUA GIRL) WILSON, Once worked as our Program Assistant, Crash-test Dummy, Girl Friday, and All-Around Nice Person. Now she travels the world teaching and giving Greenland skills demonstrations. Helen’s enthusiasm for kayaking probably has some deep roots in her background as a junior lifeguard and many years of synchronized swimming. She enjoys being upside-down in her kayak as much as being upright, and has pursued the ancient art of Greenland rolling. We’ve lost count of how many ways Helen can roll her kayak. Did we mention she got first place in the woman's division at the 2008 kayak rolling competition in Greenland? For more on Helen and to learn more about the Greenland National Kayaking Championships go to: www.greenlandorbust.org
LARRY BUWALDA has actively paddled kayak and canoe for over 30 years. His product knowledge comes in part as a paddlesport retailer at Adventure’s Edge http://www.adventuresedge.com/ . Larry recently received certification as an American Canoe Association Instructor in Essentials of Kayak Touring. He certified as an ACA Moving Water Canoe instructor in 1992. In addition to paddling Larry is involved in organizing local events. He is on the organizing committee for Humboldt Bay Paddlefest, Six Rivers Paddling Club, Banff Mt Film Festival and is on the Board of Explore North Coast paddling club. When asked of his most memorable boating experience he said it was his 17 day tandem canoe trip down the Grand Canyon.
SIMEON & MARCIA TAUBER have been kayaking for 5 years. Simeon is certified as an ACA Kayak Instructor. Marcia is the co-founder of Explore North Coast, Humboldt County’s Canoe and Kayak association. Both Simeon and Marcia are on it’s board of directors and on the organizing committee of the HSU Humboldt Bay Paddlefest, a local, annual kayaking event. Marcia has a special interest in adaptive paddling because of her experience as the mother of a son with severe disabilities, who also loves kayaking. When not kayaking, they are co-owners of Simply Macintosh http://www.simplymacintosh.com/ , a computer store in Arcata, California. “It is often challenging for parents who have kids with disabilities to include them in the activities they love doing. It is rewarding that we can share the experience of kayaking with our son, who has disabilities and who is happiest when he’s on the water.”
MICHAEL (PITCH POLE) ZEPPEGNO is an ACA certified Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor. He is an avid sea kayaker and enjoys paddling in all the various venues that Humboldt County has to offer. In addition to his experience on the water Michael has spent considerable time doing high altitude treks in the Himalayas. He is on the Board of the Explore North Coast Kayak Club. When not kayaking he enjoys gardening with his wife, spending time with his granddaughter, playing with his dogs, and continuing to develop his skills on the trapeze.