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Interview: Glyn Brackenbury

glyn1 Interview with Glyn Brackenbury, kayak instructor and creator of

kayak surfThis interview was originally produced for the Portuguese Playak partner site  ''.

Name: Glyn Brackenbury
Age: 35
Occupation: Kayak instructor
Address: Bideford, Devon, England
Competition records: Currently Ranked 4th HP and 2nd IC in The English League
Paddling experience: 25 years of Surf, Whitewater, Sea kayak and Canoe!
Sponsors: Mega Surfkayaks
Personal Website:

Glyn Competing in Portugal kayak Worlds 2009 / Photo by Malcolm Pearcey

Hello Glyn. You’re Chief Instructor at Skern Lodge… does this activity has anything to do with kayaks?
Yes, we teach people to kayak from absolute beginners to top level athletes. We have 32 Instructors who all teach lots of different sports, and I help to organise them.

Your first competition was in 1990 and then you took a break until 2008… Got tired of competing?
I competed in the early 90’s very briefly, at the time mostly riding waveski because the surfkayaks then weren’t as good as they’ve become now. I then got into teaching and coaching and didn’t think about competing until I started again in 2008, because my son Aidan had begun to compete, and rather than sit on the beach and watch, I thought I’d have another go. I won my first competition in both HP and IC, but haven’t won one since! We have a really competitive league in England with incredibly talented young paddlers like Phillip Watson, Chris Hobson, Sam Davenport, James Hawker and Jack Horwell, and the immense experience of surfers like Gary Adcock and Pete Blenkinsop, makes it really difficult to get a win in the English league, which is great for competition.

What memories do you keep from the last World’s in Portugal?
I loved the Worlds in Portugal. It was a fantastic event, everyone we met was just so friendly it made us feel really welcome. My main memories of the event were:

  • England taking the team title, which was a massive achievement by everyone involved.
  • Breaking things. I broke three sets of paddles, two boats (although Dave Speller broke one of them) and one van in a crash on the way to Santa Cruz!
  • Super Bock

    Glyn with Bruno (speaker) and one more broken paddle / Ocean Spirit Worlds 2009 / Photo by

    You say that “Coaching more paddlers in the surf, seeing the juniors pushing the senior paddlers and to eat more pies “ is one of your aims in surfkayaking world…
    I really enjoy coaching, and introducing or encouraging paddlers to surf well is fantastic, firstly because they get to experience surf kayaking, but also developing new concepts and ideas to try and push the sport forwards, so teaching in different ways with different techniques, keeps the sport moving forwards.

    I love seeing the juniors beating the senior paddlers because it shows how the sport can progress. We have some real talent in England at the moment in the Juniors and it’s great watching them learn and develop. It’s just like you have in Portugal with Miguel Carvalho he is beating the older paddlers, and that’s how it should be with the younger paddlers driving the boundaries of the sport.

    We have a saying in England that a fat person is someone who “ate all the pies” and given that I’m 110 kilo’s I need to eat pies to keep my weight up!

    How do you see the recent evolution of surfkayaking?
    It’s grown massively in the last 10 years particularly through the development of the boats, allowing us to do more in them, and by pioneering riders like Darren Bason and Edu Etxuberria who have really pushed the sport forwards in terms of what’s possible. This is now being taken up by a new generation of riders going bigger and faster than I ever thought was possible.

    And the future?
    Competition kayaking is all going a bit more vertical. With boats like the ONA, Evo and Boost, really tight rail to rail transitions are possible, and with that comes a more vertical attack making for bigger airs and re-entries. The pictures of Sam Davenport doing a massive air reverse in his Boost are a good example of this.

    In terms of the sport in general the explosion in the market of sit on tops has had a large effect, and I think more people will be turning towards ski’s like the Watertech Easy and boats like the RPF Shark to give them more performance than their sit on, but without having to get into a closed kayak.

    Sam Davenport flying with his Mega Boost / Photos by Pete Copp

    You created a new web site called Tell us a little about it…
    I set it up for several reasons:

  • We didn’t yet have a contemporary manual for surf kayaking available on the net. It should be somewhere you could go to find out some tips on how to perform a skill. The advantage of having it available on the net means it can be updated and changed as boats and skills change. I hope eventually it will grow to become a large site for all things to do with the techniques of surf kayaking.
  • I really enjoy coaching and sharing ideas with others to make them better, the website seemed a perfect opportunity to do that on an international level.
  • To use the skills I have as a coach, to try and generate some money to invest into surf kayaking in England, I hope eventually that it will generate enough for us to invest some money back into our sport.


    The feedback I’ve had on the site has been great, with people really making the most of learning and trying new things, the other thing that has amazed me is how global the sport is with people asking questions from all over the world. The site has been live for 7 weeks and we have had over 4000 page views, which is far more than I ever expected.

    How did you become a part of the Mega Flying Squad?
    I’ve worked with Mega for a number of years, testing boats. Then when I started competing I was asked to join the Flying Squad, which is a real honor to be on a team surfing with the finest kayakers in the world.

    Feel the responsibility of getting better results?
    No. I just concentrate on surfing as well as I can! That way the results will look after themselves.

    Your favorite spots?
    We have a special break very close to work where many of the pictures on the surf kayak skills site were taken. That will always be my favourite break because it doesn’t work very often but when it’s good it’s exceptional. Around the world I loved surfing in Portugal at Santa Rita because of the people and the atmosphere, Soupbowls in Barbados, as it was the first time I’d surfed in such warm water, and Draculas in Morocco because it was actually terrifying!

    Glyn surfing / Photo by Pete Copp

    Will you go to the USA next year for the Worlds?
    Definitely! I think the guys on the East Coast will put on a great event and I can’t wait to surf over there.

    And when will be your next visit to Portugal?
    I’d hoped to get over for Ocean Spirit this year but didn’t quite manage, but I think definitely next year for the Waveski Worlds, which should be impressive to watch. I might even dust my ski off!


    Closing remarks?
    We are thinking about having a surfkayakskills tour doing some coaching for paddlers around England. Maybe we could come to Portugal and do some there?


    That's a great idea! Thanks a lot Glyn ;)

    Interview: Luis Pedro Abreu

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