Ben Maynard, co-owner and director
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.
Roz Barber, co-owner and manager
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."
Sam Norton, coach
Rick McMinn, coach
"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."
New team members
Our rapid growth over recent years has resulted in the addition of new staff members to our coaching and retail teams, including Kerry Hore, Hamish Dalziel, Kate Trdin, Charlie Moss, Simon Kendrick and Jackie Bice. We look forward to sharing their profiles with you soon!