G17 was born out of the ideal of adventure paddling; new places, new cultures & new rivers

  • We don’t choose our staff from their paper qualifications or how many books or articles they’ve written.
  • We don’t care how many videos they’ve starred in or how many first descents they’ve bagged. Sponsored or not, it doesn’t make any difference to us. There are only three things that are important.
  • First, they have to be fantastic instructors. Second, they need to be fantastic fun. Third, they need to be getting out there and doing it.
  • One look through our list of instructors and you’ll see that they all meet our qualifications and then some.


Our Current Line Up – these guys head up the core of Gene17kayaking’s trip, adventure & course programmes

Simon Westgarth, MSc in Performance Coaching, Cert Ed & BCU Level 5 Coach >>>Kayak Session Interview PDF 0.7Mb

Simon’s Gene17’s founder and mission director. Don’t take that to mean he’s a desk-jockey, though, as Simon’s happiest when he’s out on the water teaching our pioneering dynamic paddling style.

Hailing from Devon, Simon’s travelled the world and visited every continent (except Antarctica!) in the search of the perfect river. Freestyler, adventure paddler and one of Europe’s most progressive coaches, he’s also made a number of critically acclaimed paddling videos. And, of course, he makes a top notch Tortiglionoi del pomodori.

Accomplishments & Notables; Former Winner of European Title & Euro Cup, a few first descents, Producer of a few highly successful kayaking films and instructional DVDs & the author of Sjoa Map Guide

Visit Simon Westgarth for details & his Blog

Jakub Šedivý, Technical Expert, Photographer, Explorer and Extreme Racer

Jakub, has been on a gap year from Med School for a while now. Summer’s in Norway and winter’s in Chile. Fitting in raft guiding where he needs, Jakub is part of the current crop of the very finest paddlers, who are shaping the sport and finding new frontiers. He’s stared in some of the best white water productions, and yet finds new ground on his adventures which are often captured on camera.

Accomplishments & Notables: First descents in North Norway, Nepal, Borneo and Chile, an accomplished Extreme Race competitor, and fine photographer.

Jakub, heads up all programmes and is the head kayak instructor.

Jake Holland, BCU Level 5 Coach, BMC Mountaineering Instructor & Explorer

Jake young apprenticeship white water kayaking mentor’s were Matt Tidy & Simon Westgarth. Gene17 was very lucky to have key input to such a young paddlers development at a key point in his progression. Since the early days, Jake has explored the world, become accomplished climber, skier, sea kayaker and white water paddler. Jake too attended our Next Generation Scheme, and has benefited considerably from our further and ongoing mentoring. Furthermore Jake brings excellent video editing skills to the team, that will aid the planned resurgence for our video instructional content.

Accomplishments & Notable: First descents in Thailand, Expeditions in Nepal, Ski Touring in the Alps & youngest BCU Level 5 Coach & BMC Mountaineering Instructor.

Jake, is our second main kayak coaching at all destinations.

Chris Eastabrook, BCU Level 5 Coach, Writer & Photographer

It wasn’t long after leaving the engineering career at the university gates that Chris found his natural talent. Teaching white water kayaking. Working self employed Chris was able to develop into a top level coach but also paddle around the world whenever he choose. He has worked for a number of leading outdoor centers in the UK and across alpine Europe during the summer months. Chris has a real passion for safety & rescue and personal development through adventurous activities.

Accomplishments & Notable: First descents in Tibet (07) Georgia (10) and Indonesia (12) plus a high profiled failed expedition to Papua Indonesia (11) and a published writer & photographer.

Chris, heads up north Wales BCU courses, and is often in Slovenia for Gene17.

Tomo Andrassy, Freestyle Champion, Expedition Paddler & Adventurer, Extreme Race Winner

photo Nicknamed the “coach”, this young slavic talent, is both insightful and gifted. One of a new breed of supreme performers who understand white water kayaking and how the new dramatic style can unlock the river to give new lines and great joy. Tomo from Slovakia, cut his early years on the freestyle scene, these days amongst picking up a Doctorate, he can be charging hard on any given river also the world. New to Gene17kayaking, Tomo again a graduate from our Next Generation programme, has the dedicated drive coupled with his talent and ability to very much be part of kayaking’s next generation.

Tomo, guides and coaches in the Slovenia, Corsica, Italy, Switzerland & Norway.

Bob Timms, BCU Level 5 Coach, all round action man, Technical Expert and Coach Education

photo Bob Timms has been kayaking for 32 years, since the age of 11 and actively involved in coaching for 25 of those. He has kayaked and across Europe, In india, Nepal, Peru and Papua new Guinea. He has been a full time member of staff at both Plas Y Brenin and Canolfan Tryweryn (the National Mountain and White water centres) before moving to live permanently in France since 2004 were he works as a river guide and coach and as Full time Technical Advisor to PGL Travel LTD.

Bob is a Director of all advanced courses in WW kayak safety, Leadership and coaching, as well UKCC level 3 courses, raft guiding training and Assessments. Boating keeps his soul alive and reminds him, that he’s mortal. Bob joins us in both Slovenia and France, running our BCU programmes.

Spyros Barbaresos, Explorer, Raft Company Owner & Guide Book Writer

Deep from the mountains of Greece, where some of the purest water flow, allows all manner of things to grow, comes Spyros. Spyros has over the year’s been on many of Gene17’s programmes, including the D4DR Class V, where we’ve been able to help form and shape the kind of coach, paddler and river guide he has become and as such the kind of paddler Gene17 needs on the river. Spyros represents our next generation at Gene17.

Accomplishments & Notables; Greece World Cup Slalom paddler, and long established Safety Boater, Raft Guide and Kayak Coach for one of Greece’s oldest white water outfitters.

Spyros heads up our Greece Road Trip Adventure, and joins us in Slovenia & Italy

Our Old Boys & Girls – who love coming back for the occasional trip & adventure

Deb Pinniger, BCU Level 4 Coach, EMT Wilderness & Author >>>Playboating Interview PDF 0.9Mb

Former Freestyle World Champion, Deb’s one of the world’s best paddlers. Her compact frame and quiet manner belie an inner strength and enthusiasm that’s helped her stay at the front of expedition river paddling for the past decade.

Deb has recently been on an academic crusade, obtaining both a Photo Journalism degree, a Masters in Social Anthropology and is currently furthering her studies with a PhD. We are very lucky to have Deb return to Gene17Kayaking, when she can, her insight, mindfulness and highly likeable manner, makes her a massive contribution to our operation. Deb works all destinations, heads up trips and also deliveries our UK based short courses too.

Accomplishments & Notables; Former World Champion, numerous winner of European Title & Series, Expeditions Worldwide & Author of acclaimed L’Eau Vive, a kayaking photo lifestyle book

Deb also runs a small jewellery business Looner

Dave Carroll, EMT Wilderness & ICU Level 4 Coach >>>Playboating Interview PDF 4.1Mb

If you’ve met Dave, you’ll remember him! He’s so lively and brimming with energy that it’s easy to overlook just how good he is at paddling.

Dave’s on-the-water instructional skills will make the difference to anyone’s trip where Valsesia is a favourite spot of his.  In the early years of Gene17, Dave was on most trips, these days, he is more a guest instructor, parachuting in on occasion.

Accomplishments & Notables; Former Irish Ranked Number One Freestyler, Featured segments in numerous kayaking movies, Contributor to Cutting edge Technique Production “Genes” & Total Lifestyler. Dave’s web contribution Davetec

Matt Tidy   National Youth Development Advisor, EMT Wilderness & BCU Level 4 Coach

Matt’s one of the few whitewater paddlers to emerge from a prestigious freestyle career to make a firm impression on the adventure paddling scene, including pioneering trips to Northern Norway and Tibet.

Kayaking wasn’t Matt’s first love, though: a youth spent as a gymnast gives Matt a natural balance and form on the steeps that’s a real joy to watch. Of course, it’s not just about pulling the moves: Matt’s real gift is being able to coach the skills and feel the love.

Matt works with Deb Pinniger together on their youth programmes through the Community Interest Company Watermark Experiences.

Accomplishments & Notables; Some of Matt’s credits include developing the BCU national youth freestyle programme, various podium finishes in international freestyle competitions and various technical articles for the paddling press. And, of course, a real dab hand in the kitchen (or on the camp-stove)

Nick Horwood

Nick graduated from a stellar University club of paddlers and has gone on to hit Norway every Summer since. He’s young yet highly experienced, sharp as mustard yet smooth as you like in the kayak.

Accomplishments & Notables: Star of the MOP DVD series, organiser of the GB Student Rodeo Event, an accomplished Extreme Race competitor plus a good writer and fine photographer.

Leo Hoare   Leading UK Coach Educator, REC First Aid Provider & BCU Level 5 Coach

Leo’s the Course Director of our Intensive Instructor Training Programme, D4DR WW & our UK based Coach Education Courses. He’s been paddling since the age of nine and as a junior he raced slalom for Great Britain, winning numerous junior internationals and paddling in the Barcelona Olympic squad. He also featured on UK TV’s ‘Paddles up’, before moving on to coaching various national squads.

Now he’s one of Britain’s top paddle sport professionals. He’s worked at the National Mountaineering Centre, and the National Whitewater Centre, Canolfan Tryweryn. He’s got a slew of qualifications and he’s spent the last 15 years working as a whitewater coach, guide and instructor.