Skip to main content

Experience is the Next Level

One of the longest standing supporters of the Freycinet Challenge, is Next Level Kayaking from Kingston Beach (near Hobart in Tasmania). We are delighted to have them onboard (again) as sponsors of the Sea Kayak stages of the Challenge in 2023.

The owner, Ben Maynard, has always been a fanatical mutli-sport athlete, before becoming a specialist paddler. “In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I would do a multi-sport event every month; such as the Cradle to Coast, Mersey Descent, Arthur Descent, Ben Lomond Descent, Leven Descent, Dial Descent, Tullah Challenge, Trevallyn Classic and Mt Field Winter Challenge in Tasmania, alongside the Mars Challenge and Upper Murray Challenge in Victoria. These events were always great adventures and awesome fitness training for kayaking - taking us off the beaten track and out of our comfort zone”, Ben said.

Ben first competed in the Freycinet Challenge in 2005, running and paddling in a 2-person team. “Since 2011 I’ve enjoyed competing purely as a paddler, alongside sponsoring the event. We’ve come to the Challenge every year because we love the scenery, the East Coast bays and beaches, the vibe of the race and the camaraderie between everyone involved.”

The Freycinet Challenge is special for Ben and his team, because it was back in 2010 when Next Level Kayaking first started coaching other paddlers, who were preparing for the event. “I remember printing flyers to hand out to people, then coaching 1-on-1 sessions at the local yacht club on weekends and staying up late on Sunday nights writing training programs.”

Ben ran coaching sessions on his own until 2017, steadily building the business while working a day job as a scientist, raising a young family, and training for paddling competitions.

Fast forward a few years and Next Level Kayaking has grown to a full-time coaching and retail business, teaching people how to paddle, running regular paddling fitness groups, taking paddlers on trips and adventures, selling paddling and outdoor gear from their shopfront at Kingston Beach, and inspiring people to explore and develop through paddling and outdoor activities.

Today, Next Level Kayaking has the capacity to introduce complete beginners to paddling and offer them a pathway of sessions and experiences until it becomes an enjoyable and regular part of their lifestyle by providing coaching and mentoring. "We encourage people to explore their personal boundaries, experience nature and the blue space around them, which brings physical and mental stimulation, friendship and support along the way", Ben said.

Next Level Kayaking operate their sessions, lessons and tours all year round, and they have been very busy over late winter and early spring preparing paddlers for this year's Freycinet Challenge.

Employing 10 local staff members, Next Level Kayaking now supply the largest range of paddlesport equipment in Tasmania, with nearly 40 brands and over 400 individual products. Their range includes Epic Kayaks, Nordic Kayaks, Carbonology Sport, Stellar Kayaks, Mirage Kayaks, Bay Sports, Kokopelli, Koastal Kayaks, Think Kayak, One Tree Canoe and Aquayak. Many of their suppliers have been kind enough to donate prizes for the winners at the Challenge this year.

Next Level Kayaking are competing again at the Freycinet Challenge in 2023, where we’ll see their experience and expertise shine for sure! Ben’s doing the paddle for an all-boys team and Roz Barber (one of the female coaches) is paddling for an all-girls team. Both teams have some top-notch athletes in them and they’ll certainly be putting the pressure on the front end of the race.

Follow the Freycinet Challenge