Location: Portland OR
Hailing from New YorkState, Rod Richards picked up a paddle at the age of six as bowman on a multi-lake Adirondack canoe trip. He cut his heavy weather teeth sailboat racing all over New England and the Pacific Northwest, so he’s no stranger to lumpy water. But the kayaking bug bit hard in 2003-4 as he began dabbling in the kayak importing and distribution business – working some of his vacation time at the Feelfree Kayak booth at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. By 2005 he had left his office job and began crisscrossing the Pacific as the Feelfree brand manager. So Rod has paddling experience in the USA but also the rivers of Thailand (yes, the river Kwai too) and the Laos uplands, including the Mekong’s fault line at flood stage. Rod brings experience with industry players and customers alike.
He’s a tireless promoter of paddlesports and he evangelizes outdoor recreation’s benefits. He loves coaching because it helps people enjoy the sport more and never tires of getting experience-enhancing gear into customer’s hands, and he’s energized by satisfied customers sharing their successes with him.
He was a co-founder of PaddleNW Meetup, which has organized hundreds of trips since 2007. He’s also been a board member of We Love Clean Rivers, a non-profit dedicated to using river recreation as a catalyst for environmental restoration.
You can find him at the coast, or up in the Puget Sound finding a secluded kayak camping spot. Or maybe in the pool wrangling a boat with a cockpit and two pointy ends.