Changing Tides PaddleCraft logo
A Connecticut
paddlesports training

Changing Tides PaddleCraft offers kayak, canoe and SUP (standup paddle board) instruction and training in Connecticut and New York. We are proud that our Instructors are trained and Certified by the American Canoe Association - the benchmark for paddling Instruction in North America. Together our staff span a broad range of paddling disciplines from flat to moving water in coastal and river environments. We bring depth of experience and love of the outdoors to the art of building your paddling skills. We are proud to share with all of you the history of our company, biographies of our staff and details of our training philosophy.


About CTPC History, Instructors and Staff

Jones Inlet, Fire Island National Seashore, Long Island, NY

History of CT PaddleCraft

We originally began skills training as Sea Kayaking Skills and Adventures, Ltd, a company based on Long Island, NY in 2000. You can learn more about the early history of our company and our CEO on the SKSA website .

Our Founder and CEO, Elizabeth O'Connor has always set a high standard for professionalism by completing training and certification with the three main organizations training paddlers: American Red Cross, American Canoe Association and British Canoe Union. Over the years, the company has capitalized on the best skills and training methods from all these organizations. With a storied history in kayak racing, we can also offer professional race coaching in marathon, sprint and adventure racing in ICF and sea kayak.

The company is now based in Connecticut under the name Changing Tides PaddleCraft. In Connecticut we added caneo and Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) to our range of certifications. We continue to build a network of stong affiliations through our basic skills curriculums in Kayak and Canoe and SUP and also training and certificaton of ACA Instructors and Trip Leaders. For more information on our affiliates, please visit our links page. In addition, we also specialize in personal training for the dedicated paddler or those with special needs.

Separated by a short ferry ride (or long kayak trip), we still service paddlers in the Long Island area through a number of collaborations. We continue a strong affiliation with skills oriented paddle shops and clubs on Long Island. We often arrange private or semi-private lessons in conjunction with other scheduled commitments.


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Elizabeth preparing a group of rafted students for a lesson

Elizabeth O'Connor - Dayton has been working and playing in and around boats of all types for most of her life. Although her business is centered on providing skills training for sea kayak, river kayak and canoe, she has had a passion for competitive racing. In the early 2000's she competed at the National level, winning the Woman's Sea Kayak marathon championship five years running. In her fifth year she won both Sea Kayak Marathon and ICF Marathon on consecutive days. In 2003 she was the top scorer on the US Team at the ICF Marathon Worlds Championship in Valladolid, Spain. Later she began to focus on sprint racing, mainly through the NY State Games, where she captained the Long Island Team for three years running. Today she continues to race for fun and coaches paddlers interested in improving their competitive skills.

Elizabeth brings these same high standards to skills training where she is certified as ACA Open Water Coastal Instructor (L4) and a River Kayak Instructor (L2) and a Touring Canoe Instructor (L2). Whether teaching a novice or an advanced paddler she has the tools and the experience to get students off on the right foot and help them overcome most every difficulty as they advance as paddlers. "We relish the opportunity to bring the beginner from entry to advanced level, and are happy to work with the experienced paddler who wishes to hone their skills."

More recently Elizabeth has been certified as an Instructor Trainer by the American Canoe Association for Coastal Kayak for levels I - IV. In addition to the interesting challeng of developing and certifying new Instructors, she also enjoys training and assessing padders and trip leaders for clubs and shops. Elizabeth is also certified in Wilderness First Aid through Stonehearth Outdoor Learning Opportunity. She also has the ACA Adaptive Paddling Endorsement to train paddlers with disabilities.

Elizabeth has a strong motivation to give back to the sport that has given her so much. She has served as the Divisional Instructional Facilitator for the Atlantic Division of the ACA for most of the last decade. As part of the position she also serves on the Safety Education and Instrucion Council of the ACA - the body responsible for curriculum development on the national level. From 2005 - 2010 she organized the annual Long Island Paddlesport Symposium a free to the public training symposium geared to provide new paddlers with basic skills and safe practices. In 2008 she won the ACA "Joe Pina Volunteer of the Year" award for her years of pro-bono contributions to the sport of paddling.

Trained in Equestrian Studies, Elizabeth has worked for 20 years as an Environmental Educator. This past expertise allows her to bring dimensions of interest to training, tours and camps programs that make for a rich and rewarding experience.


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Gordon in his Impex Currituck on Currituck Bay, Outer Banks, NC

Gordon Dayton has been paddling one craft or another since the late 1990's. After traning extensively with SKSA, ACA and BCU he competed in sea kayak and ICF marathon in local NECRA races and also at the National level. Today he holds ACA Instructor certification in Coastal Kayak (Level 4), Touring Canoe (Level 2) and River Canoe (Level 2). He is also certified in Wilderness First Aid through SOLO and in CPR through AHA.

Gordon is also active in the ACA, serving on the Coastal Kayak and Canoe committees for the Atlantic Division. He has an appointment as Clubs Liaison to the ACA National SEI Council and from 2008 through 2014 served on the ACA Board of Directors heading their Recreation Committee.

In 2005 Gordon worked with a group of certified Instructors to form a new paddling club on Long Island: North Atlantic Canoe and Kayak (NACK) serving as their first President and Board Chair. This club has a strong skills focus designed around the training and assessment programs of the ACA. In 2007 NACK won the ACA Stroke of Achievement Award for excellence in program development. In 2007 Gordon and Elizabeth were awarded the first Life Memberships granted by NACK. Today, NACK still thrives as a home for the dedicated paddler and Gordon serves on its board as a Founding Director and Senior Advisor.

In 2010 Gordon married Elizabeth O'Connor and, following his Engineering day job, both moved to across the sound to Connecticut.


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CTPC Staff

Kayak for a Cause: two of the on-water rescue classes, Norwalk, CT -2006

Thanks to Elizabeth's work as an Instructor Trainer, many of our students are now certified Instructors with close ties to CTPC. This is a resource we can draw on when we need to train larger numbers of paddlers. One example is our 2006 class for Kayak for a Cause where we needed to provide training to 135 students preparing for a Long Island Sound crossing. Because these were all volunteers raising money for charity the training had to be completed in 1-day window. The program required 13 Instructors and 6 groups of students through 3 on-water classes and 3 land classes throughout the day. Similar programs were organized for successive years, but this was the largest for our KFAC work.


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CTPC Mascots

K-Sea(dog) supervising the pool demo at Southern CT Small Craft Symposium - 2012

K-Sea:The founder of our CTPC mascot team was K-Sea(dog), a standard poodle born in Missouri in July of 1999. Realizing that "Poodle" derives from the german word for puddle she looked for big water. Finding none she quickly moved to Connecticut and began working with Elizabeth. She trained as a kayak passenger from a pup and acted as self-appointed trip leader when paddling in groups. She volunteered as safety captain during rescue practices, barking orders to victims and rescuers alike. She also provided kayak security during on-water trips guarding the company truck and attendant vehicles. She was active on the water up to her passing early in 2013 - she is sorely missed.


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Morgan and Elizabeth Stand Up Paddleboarding

Morgan:Morgan was born May 19, 2013 in Orange, CT. She joined our team two months later, a novice paddler of 8 weeks old. She started her paddling training in both canoe and kayak with us during the summer. In 2014 she began taking her SUP training has achieved her stability rating. She is now competent in all craft. Morgan, being fully grown and is now captain of our Mascot team.


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Talulah pup on her first SUP

Talulah: Talulah was born in southwest PA in July 22, 2016. Deciding against a career in agriculture she moved to Connecticut and became the youngest member of the CTPC Mascot team in August. She is growing fast, but still in training. You may see her around the put-ins with Morgan, a friendly charcoal blur racing around Instructors and students. We will update her biography as credentials develop.


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Our Philosophy

Our Philosophy:At Changing Tides PaddleCraft Instruction we believe that paddlers of all levels deserve the highest quality training and all paddlers can achieve realistic goals they set for themselves. We work to assess and understand student needs and apply our training tools and experience to facilitate the development of effective skills. In our experience it is often amazing how just a little training can change people's perspective on what is possible in terms of challenge and enjoyment of the sport. We know that all students have different styles of learning and we strive to culture our lessons to help you get the most our your time with us.

Paddling is a lifetime sport for many people. This is not surprising as it is accessible to the capabilities of all ages. We enjoy seeing our students develop over time from tippy novices into relaxed, capable paddlers. Just as rewarding is the task of aiding an experienced paddler overcome long-practiced defects. In the course of time we have progressed from novice to paddler to Trip leader to Instructor to Instructor Trainer. Since we are trained and certified at the highest levels we can accompany you on your journey as far as you wish to go - often that horizon widens after a lesson or two when students see what the sport can offer. We believe that good paddlers never stop learning. Certainly we do not - our after-lesson debriefs often show that we have learned as much from our students as they have from us. Your journey begins with the first stroke of the paddle - let us help you set a sure course.


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