Meet the Coaches

A large round of applause to coaches, who selflessly volunteer their time and talent to the paddlers of Pale Kai. This is an enormous undertaking that often takes away from a coach’s own paddling time. While there are standards in technique that Pale Kai adheres to, as in every sport, each coach has their own style of coaching. If you have any questions about your crew’s training, please feel free to discuss it with your coach or with the Head Coach.

Coaches face the difficult decision each race day of determining which six paddlers will be selected to participate in the race. Understand that coaches struggle to find a balance of what will provide successful racing results for Pale Kai (as a competitive club) as well as give as many paddlers as possible a chance to compete in a race. In many cases, it takes years for paddlers to find themselves at a competitive level. We encourage paddlers to not be discouraged, but to continue the sport. Sometimes you’ll find that one extra season is a difference in making crew on race day.

John Savarese

Head Coach & Men’s Coach

John has lived in California his whole life. Born and raised in Southern California, John spent most of his free time growing up surfing, water skiing, sailing and jet sking. After a long career in public safety, John moved to the central coast where he discovered outrigger canoe and he has been hooked ever since. John has participated in a variety of OC1 and OC6 races including Iron, Nine Man, Catalina Crossing, Alcatraz, Columbia River Gorge, and Pailolo Challenge.

John prides himself on providing a fun, safe, and challenging atmosphere where hard work is rewarded and achievement is celebrated. He strives every day to inspire and motivate his team to excellence in Outrigger canoe. John Believes that individually we are merely one drop, but together, we are an ocean. John continues to foster the positive spirit of outrigger canoe that attracted him to the sport several years ago and feels honored to be coaching Pale Kai.

Tamara Jones

Women's Coach

Tamara has been a part of the Pale Kai family for over 10 years. She has served on the board in a variety of roles, including as a coach and as club president. Learning about, and paddling in, every canoe position has offered her an opportunity to experience personal growth, outrigger training techniques, and our team culture during workouts, competitions, and community events.

Tamara has found adventure and athletic endeavor on the water all her life and believes her experience as a lifelong student of surfing has had a tremendous impact on her development as a paddler. Outrigger paddling has added texture and balance to her busy life as a wife, mom, and business owner. Her career as a personal fitness trainer for the last 15 years has been key to her drive to help people use their bodies safely and successfully. Her current strategic coaching business helps her find more effective tools to empower others towards emotional and physical evolution.

Tamara feels very excited each year when the paddling season arrives and she is dedicated to helping the PKO family develop its outrigger culture in a way that offers all of us intense athletic opportunities as well as a deep connection with each other and with our ocean environment. She believes that we can, through our commitment to our experiences on the water, offer each other a unique and intimate commune with our natural world and with our paddling family.

Andrew Wilkening

Novice Coach


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