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Fave Waves: Pro Paddler Jimmy Blakeney

An SUP evangelist’s inside line on New England’s best breaks

Peter McGowan Photo
Rhode Island has some of the most consistent swell on the East Coast—as long as you're willing to endure 40-degree water to get at it.

WHO
Jimmy Blakeney is a U.S. national champion whitewater paddler, lifelong ocean surfer and an ACA-certified SUP trainer. Blakeney came up as a skateboarder and came to kayaking rather late in life, in his twenties. He had the unique ability to see a river as a skate park—which greatly defined his kayaking career and helped him push the levels of what was thought possible. He was winner of the “Big Gun Show” (aka, the world championships of aerial freestyle kayaking) with the first full-rotation corkscrew maneuver on a wave. After 10 years competing on the freestyle circuit, numerous expeditions and spending close to 300 days per year in his boat, he slowly transitioned to a “desk job” as a boat designer in 2005. Working at Wavesport Kayaks, he contributed to some of the most innovative boats designs at the time, including the ZG and Diesel. In 2007, he moved from Fayetteville, WV, to Wakefield, RI, with his wife and family, where he rediscovered board sport roots with SUP. He now works for BIC Sports as a product and marketing manager for SUP and kayaks, and can be spotted carving up the waves on his 5’6” shortboard or 8’ SUP at his favorite local breaks. 

WHERE
Rhode Island, surfing in or around Narragansett Beach. That’s enough to get close, but specific spots will remain anonymous. Fall is the best time of year for consistent swell and water temps in the low 70s.

WHY
I fell in love with Rhode Island when my wife first took me here to visit her family. I love surfing here because it is relatively uncrowded, especially in the winter when it’s cold,” says Blakeney. “You have to be dedicated and motivated to get in the 40-degree water when it’s 20 degrees outside. It has a really wide variety of paddling options [and] is one of the most consistent spots on the East Coast. The type of waves are perfect for SUP, because they are cobblestone reef breaks creating longer waves with the perfect shape for performance standup paddleboarding, or just cruising.”

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