In January 2013, I had my first near miss. I was swept into an undercut rock while paddling on Little River Canyon. To be honest, it shook me up quite a bit. I had a paddling trip planned to Chile with my significant other for March, and it was too late to back out. I didn’t want to be that girl that held her partner back from doing things he loved, so I chose to call in professional help. A river genius! I didn’t have much of a boof stroke and that was part of the reason for my swim resulting in the close call. It was the first week in February, and Joe Gudger and I headed to the river. Before we put on, I looked at Gudger and told him, “I’m really nervous.” He looked at me and smiled. We spent some time working on ferries and warming up, and then down river we went. After two rapids, and walking back up to do it again a few times, he looked at me and said, “I do believe you’re having fun. I think I see that smile again.” I just had to laugh and smile more. It was fun! I do love kayaking! In March, we headed to Chile and I was on my game, catching tight eddies in big rapids, and boofing down the Rio Trancura. Thank you Joe Gudger. You brought me back home and now Momma’s got a boof stroke!

— Rebecca Hendrix


Superior instruction is priceless. My goal for my lesson with Joe Gudger was to learn to boof. Joe assessed my kayaking for only a few minutes and quickly identified other things I needed to work on as well. I did my first-ever hole spins that day and I was taught the wonder of torso rotation. I whipped into eddies and styled my way through peel-outs like never before! I also interacted with rocks in ways I never thought I would. Joe was able to teach me the key components of boofing and showed me how to identify opportunities to practice this skill. I even attempted some rock spins! What I learned in that one day has carried me well into the future! As I have gone back to familiar rivers, I am amazed at what a difference these new skills are making in my kayaking. Thanks so much Joe, for teaching me exactly what I needed to learn! If you haven’t already scheduled your lesson with Ace Kayaking School, I highly recommend that you do!

— Jana Walker | Buford, GA


Joe provided my 17 year old son and I with a 2-day introduction to whitewater kayaking, and I recommend Joe and ACE to anyone who wants to get started right. While we had some canoe and open-top experience, the time we spent with Joe quickly took us to another level of paddling skills and left us hungry to learn more. Joe has a great ability to assess your strengths and weaknesses and deliver easy to execute improvements. He’ll push you to improve, but not to over-extend your abilities. Most importantly, the great respect he gets from EVERYBODY you meet in the paddling community underscores what my son and I felt immediately – Joe is the “real deal” – a fantastic outdoorsman and a real pleasure to be around.

— Jim Lancaster


One of the best things I’ve done was taking lessons from Ace at the start of my whitewater kayaking journey. My second lesson from Ace was with another excellent instructor, Jen Maxwell. Jen picked up right where Jeff West had left off, building on what he had taught me. She quickly helped me correct a few things, and got me feeling much more confident. I’ll soon be scheduling another lesson to continue my progress. I can’t speak highly enough of Jen, and all the great folks at Ace! Whether you’re just getting started, or working to step up, Ace can help you get there!

— Jim Tebbel | Atlanta, GA


ACE played a huge role in my initial days of kayaking. My first day on the water with ACE, I was introduced to Jenn. It was the very first time I had been down the Ocoee and I would be paddling a funyak. I had paddled smaller rivers in a kayak, but with the funyak, I was able to get a feel of the river and also review paddling and safety essentials. The next time I traveled the Ocoee I was excited and comfortable paddling my kayak.  I was really able to enjoy the river and have fun. Between beginning each day on the water with stretches and safety protocols, and the laughter as I’d accomplish a new goal, the perfect balance between safety and fun was in place. Thank you so much ACE for being such a huge part in the furthering of my ability and love for the water.

— Jessika Eakens | New Market, AL


My time with Joe has been phenomenal-skills that most people take a year to hone is accomplished in just hours with his instruction. He builds on your individual strengths and helps you to discover what you actually are ready for and didn’t realize on your own. Caring, sincere and extremely patient–Joe and the Ace team will open up the world of paddling not achieved in any other way!! I will definitely be taking more lessons and introducing my granddaughter to them soon as she is already showing interest and would not hesitate to let them take the helm. Thanks to you guys for your friendship and amazing dedication!!

— Christine Blumberg | Dahlonega, GA


I began kayaking in 2005. I spent the next two years paddling mostly class II water. I was ready to move from the Nantahala to the Ocoee. Over and over I kept being told to call Jeff West with Ace Kayaking they are the best. I took that advice and took several lessons over the next two years with Jeff. His knowledge and skill set advanced my paddling tremendously. His positive outlook on paddling inspired me. Prior to paddling with Jeff runs like the Upper Gauley, Green River Narrows, Upper Yough were not runs I thought I would be capable of. After my time with him they became reality. A few months ago I had the opportunity to spend some time with Joe on the river and have him critique my creek boating. This young man has the experience, knowledge and patience of someone twice his age. His ability to review what you are doing and improve upon your movements based on observation is phenomenal. Take not only one lesson take as many as you can. I plan too:-). I plan to have my young daughter take lessons from Emily and her smiling face this summer. Everyone that works with Ace loves this sport and what they do. You will not find a better team!

— Heather Thompson | Lexington, KY


As a birthday present to myself, I signed up for a creeking lesson with Joe. During my lesson, Joe not only helped me with my boof, but he helped fine tune some of my basic river running techniques. Joe was patient, funny, and encouraging. Throughout the lesson, I felt safe enough to push my normal kayaking boundaries (a must for me), and the next weekend I was hitting my boofs on Cheoah and Tallulah with style! I couldn’t have asked for more from my lesson, and I look forward to getting some playboating lessons this summer!

— Meghan Pendergast | Atlanta, GA