The NLK Team

Next Level Kayaking's owner, Ben Maynard

Ben Maynard - Owner

Next Level Kayaking is a family business founded by Ben Maynard, a 39 year old kayaker from Hobart, Tasmania. Ben has spent his life in and around the water and has been paddling consistently since age 13. He was a member of the Australian Wildwater Team between 1997 and 2010, winning multiple National titles during that time.

From 2006 to 2010 he placed in the top 5 on five occasions and the top 12 on another five occasions at World Championship and World Cup level. Ben "retired" from top-level competition in 2010 and created Next Level Kayaking, which has since grown to become the largest paddlesport coaching operation in the State. NLK trains and mentors some of the toughest paddlers in Australia, operating year-round on the doorstep of the Southern Ocean.

Ben is a previous Avon Descent winner, a seven-time 20 Beaches competitor, a three-time Great Ocean Paddle competitor, and a four-time Tasmanian Ocean Racing Champion. In 2015 he placed 13th at the Mauritius Ocean Classic, in 2017 he won two Australian Masters Games titles in flatwater and ocean racing, and in 2018/19 he won the Australian Ocean Racing Series with mixed doubles partner Roz Barber.

Ben brings a unique depth of experience to NLK, having also paddled at State or National level in sprint, marathon, X-treme, canoe polo and individual multisport, as well as completing remote expeditions around the coastlines, rivers and lakes of Tasmania, mainland Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Ben is a previous Tasmanian Institute of Sport scholarship holder (1999 to 2010), holds a PhD in Biological Science and maintains a Paddle Australia Level 1 coaching qualification.

NLK Team Member - Roz Barber

Roz Barber

Roz has built an impressive record during her 8 years of paddling across flatwater and ocean disciplines. Roz won the 2018/19 Australian Ocean Racing Series in the mixed double category, including 1st place finishes at the Tasmanian Surf Safari, the Victorian Great Ocean Paddle and Sydney's Bridge to Beach. In 2018 Roz took out her division at her first Great Ocean Paddle event and finished 11th at the Mauritius Ocean Classic, both in single skis. In 2020 Roz qualified for the Australian Masters Ocean Racing Team destined to compete at the World Championships in Portugal until the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

"I started coaching for NLK in November 2017, this position bringing me full circle. My first experience on a ski was with Ben, while he was running a coaching clinic in Launceston in late 2013. I then utilised training programs and regular Hobart trips for 1-on-1 and group sessions, so I would keep improving. In 2015 I moved to Hobart and became a regular participant with the groups, consolidating my passion for paddling.

Although coming to paddling later in life I am not new to the world of coaching. At the age of 18 I received my first coaching accreditation in the equestrian world, and continued to help riders all the way through to when I started to train and race in ski’s. From my teens through to early 40’s I lived and breathed horses, competing alongside my second job of educating both horses and riders.

I believe every person has the ability to improve when they want to, and I get so much pleasure out of helping people achieve their goals. Watching the look on someone’s face when they achieve something new, or overcome a fear…..there is not much that feels better! When Ben asked if I would join the team it was an offer I couldn’t say no to.

I have been fortunate to have had a large range of experiences throughout my life, having grown up in Margaret River, and spent time working in the Pilbara and Victoria. The work I have done has been incredibly varied, from farming, to driving heavy machinery and trucks, to working in fine dining restaurants and kitchens, and retail. I love outdoor life, and the incredible experiences that it gives us.

Throughout my life I have never been far away from coaching, helping people to improve their skills and consequently their enjoyment. Being a part of NLK gives me the opportunity to give back some of what I have been fortunate enough to learn."

NLK Team Member - Sam Norton

Sam Norton

Sam Norton is a qualified flat water instructor, personal trainer and physical education teacher. He has gained extensive experience as a competitive coach of surf lifesavers, sprint kayakers and ocean racing paddlers.
As a paddler, Sam has been competing at a national and international level for over a decade. He is an 11 time Tasmanian surf ski champion, podium finisher at the 20 Beaches and Perth Doctor races and an Australian finalist in the K1 1,000m. Sam has also represented Australia in sprint, marathon and ocean racing disciplines.
Sam applies his background in sport science and education to bring the most up-to-date physiological research and instructional techniques to paddling. His lessons aim to simplify complicated technical concepts to help paddlers master a powerful and efficient stroke sooner.
NLK Team Member - John Maynard

John Maynard

Surely life comes full circle (or something like that) when son employs father. Over my 25 years of kayaking John has driven shuttle for Ben and his brothers Andrew & Christopher hundreds of times, in Tasmania, mainland Australia and Europe, and is an expert at fitting bus and trailer round the tightest of corners (Italy and the Czech Republic come to mind). John knows and understands kayaking and the need to have rock solid land-based support during paddling adventures.

During 2017 John joined me for several road trips and stock runs to Sydney, and helped the NLK team with logistics at the 2018 Great Ocean Paddle. Recently retired as a company director and ready to get involved "as and when required" 

John has also taken to running a keen eye over the NLK books, whipping up a series of spreadsheets to test my crazy ideas. On this rollercoaster of a ride with everything growing and paddlesport in Australia and overseas constantly evolving, John is often the voice of reason and his input is always much appreciated. This season you’ll mostly see him behind the wheel of our downwind bus and on the radios during Adventure Paddles, but it's great to have him in the loop and anything could happen from here!

NLK Team Member - Tory Stewart

Tory Stewart

Tory grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, and was immersed in a hospitality family where fine dining, cafes, wine and large functions were a large influence on her experiences and work growing up. After finishing high school she entered a Bachelor of Business, however was distracted by a “quick” snow season in New Zealand to complete her Ski Instructor Training. 5 years later she was still chasing ski seasons in NZ, Japan as well as living in Canada for several years.

During that period, Tory worked as an instructor for ski schools and private ski lodges, as well as snow safety and trail maintenance. In Canada, Tory also began leading trips in remote northern British Columbia as a horse pack trip guide. Tasmania’s wilderness was soon on the radar and she moved to Hobart just over 8 years ago. Since then she has completed a Cert III and IV in Tourism Guiding, and a Cert III and IV in Outdoor Recreation, at the Hobart TasTafe and obtained several other qualifications including Australian Canoeing Sea Guide, White Water Guide, and Wilderness First Aid.

This has led her into guiding for several Tasmanian expedition companies. For the past 7 years, Tory has been working seasonally as a sea kayak expedition guide in the South West National Park and Flinders Island, while working for Tasmanian schools in the winter months in Outdoor Education. She has also begun a Bachelor of Education, Health and Physical Education at UTAS. Tory joined the NLK team last year and played a key role in helping us expand our range of surfski Adventure Paddles and Paddling Getaways. Tory is excited to continue increasing her knowledge and experience in paddling, as well as translating her expedition and teaching experience to NLK’s multiple coaching, training and adventure session options.

NLK Team Member - Rick McMinn

Rick McMinn

"I started paddling in my first year of uni when I bought a creek boat to bash down rivers during winter so I could keep myself fit for sailing. A few years later, me and a few mates decided to enter a team into the Winter Challenge so I borrowed a Time Bandit multisport boat and caught the bug for paddling fast boats! I joined Ben's first "trial" year of Moving Targets in 2014 and over the next 5 years I have not only improved my paddling out of sight, but I have also developed my own passion for the sport.

I've been lucky enough that in the past few years paddling has taken me around the world. I have raced in Mauritius, France and the UK, as well as up and down the Australian east coast. I've also explored waterways throughout Tasmania, on rivers, lakes and beaches. Despite the way it might look some times, I'm not only about training and racing. If I didn't love being on the water so much I wouldn't do it so much! I'm a big advocate for taking time out of a training schedule to paddle for fun, whether its a surf session, playing in whitewater, or even just a cathartic long and steady paddle on a glassy lake. Off the water, I completed my Masters of Professional Psychology in 2018 and now work as a school psychologist for the Department of Education in Launceston."


NLK Team Member - Simon Stubbs


Simon Stubbs

Simon has a deep passion for tourism and Tasmania’s wilderness. His love for travel and adventure was ignited when his parents dragged him on numerous bushwalks and outdoor adventures around the state. He was soon pushing to do more and has tackled most of the “BIG” (and small) walks, cliffs, rivers, caves and beaches around Tassie. Simon’s passion for the state and adventure led him to set up and operate the highly successful multi award winning Freycinet Adventures.

This gave him the opportunity to share the feeling of adventure with guests on trips ranging from half-day to multi-day across Tasmania and even overseas. With over 25 years experience guiding and delivering tourism experiences, Simon has recently turned his attention to training and coaching. He is passionate about enabling other people to learn and develop a desire for paddling. Simon coaches some of NLK's Sunday sessions, including Paddle Progress, Women on Water, Paddling Foundations and our Beginner Courses. He has recently joined our Adventure Paddle and Paddling Getaway team, providing advice and direction on all aspects of best practice operation on and off the water.

If there is magic on
this planet, it is
contained in water.

Loren Eiseley