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Sam OBrien

Founder, Kayaking & Paddle Boarding Expert
Paddle Boarding
Water Sports


  • Founder and Editor of WaterSportsWhiz.com since 2019 – growing the site from a hobby into a leading online resource for water sports enthusiasts.
  • Over two decades of first-hand experience with water sports including kayaking, paddle boarding, and scuba diving.
  • Active member of the British Canoeing and American Canoe Association.
  • Trusted reviewer of kayaking and paddle boarding gear, having tested hundreds of products.
  • Proud Sea Scout leader, passing on his passion for water and adventure to the next generation.


Sam is no weekend warrior when it comes to water sports. He’s a certified water sports addict, with over 20 years of hands-on experience under his belt (and the gray hair to prove it!).

His obsession with water sports began in the late 1990s whilst at university, when he spent his summers island-hopping in the Mediterranean with his girlfriend’s family and friends. This baptism-by-boating introduced him to sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boarding and scuba diving. He was hooked.

Scuba diving became his thing for a while, earning his PADI Open Water certification in 2003, advancing to Advanced, Rescue Diver and finally Master Scuba Diver in 2010. He’s been fortunate to dive at top sites around the world including; the Blue Hole in Egypt, coral reefs in Mu Lo Lanta Thailand and the fresh-water cenotes of the Yucatan Mexico.

But with limited regular diving opportunities back home in the UK, Sam hung up his tank and fins and sought a new challenge on the water’s surface.

That’s when kayaking and paddle boarding stole his heart. Now it’s a family affair – him, his wife Kayleigh (yes, they met kayaking!), their son Frankie, and even their dog Sausage, are all devoted paddlers.

After university, work took Sam around the world, including 8 years in the United States. There he became an active member of the American Canoe Association, honing his kayaking skills on the state’s great lakes, major rivers and stunning coastlines.

Frustrated by the lack of reliable information on kayaking and paddle boarding, Sam decided to fill the void himself. In 2019 he launched WaterSportsWhiz as a hobby. It quickly became a full-time job with a team of writers.

These days Sam contributes regularly as an author, content strategist, and editor-in-chief. When not working, he’s on the water 4-5 times a week with family and friends, testing the latest gear.

Beyond paddle sports, Sam has a passion for travel (70+ countries so far), whiskey (especially bourbon), and tattoos – he’s up to 14 and counting!



Sam holds a degree in engineering from the University of Essex, his technical background gives him a keen eye for evaluating kayak and paddle board design and mechanics, often in ways many others might overlook. Combined with his decades of hands-on experience, makes him a true expert in the field.

Professional Certifications

He’s a PADI Master Scuba Diver, having completed his rescue diver and master qualifications in Thailand. Though paddle sports keep him too busy these days for much diving.

As the assistant water sports instructor for his son’s Sea Scouts troop, Sam supports the lead instructor while continuing to build his qualifications. Currently he is working towards British Canoeing’s Level 1 Instructor certification to teach kayaking and paddle boarding – which he hopes to have obtained by the summer of 2024.


Through active involvement with the American Canoe Association and British Canoeing, Sam stays connected to the paddle sports community. He regularly attends industry events and training workshops in order to remain at the forefront of the latest innovations, trends, and best practices in the world of kayaking and paddle boarding.

Teaching & Coaching

As a water sports coach for the Sea Scouts, Sam gets to share his passion, knowledge and experience with the next generation. Although rumor has it he took the role to score more time on the water and dodge DIY at home!

Jokes aside, he loves teaching and takes pride in inspiring the next generation of paddlers. When he’s out with the Scouts, it’s often hard to tell who’s the bigger kid or having the most fun – the youngsters or Sam himself.