Leon Sommé

Coach Level 5 Sea (aspirant), BCU 5 Star Sea, 4 Star Surf, 4 Star Inland, 3 Star Open Canoe

Leon Sommé

Leon first discovered paddling as a unique, low impact way to explore the natural world. It has allowed him the opportunity to paddle below 2000 foot vertical cliffs hosting the largest breeding bird colony in the world while circumnavigating Iceland, to having 25 Orca Wales swim a paddle length away from his boat for three hours during one of his two circumnavigations of Vancouver Island BC.

Leon and his partner Shawna Franklin believed that if they could get other people to have these kinds of experiences from the cockpit of a kayak it would change how they cared for and appreciated the natural world. With that goal in mind they co-created Body Boat Blade International, a two time award winning paddle sports school based in the best paddling region in the world.

Ever year Leon paddles to Patos Island for the Christmas Holiday, he surfs the wave at Skookumchuk for his birthday, during the winter storm season he spends a week surf kayaking in Tofino BC, and every October “32”nd he goes on an overnight pumpkin paddle. He got engaged to Shawna at Cape Scott while circumnavigating Vancouver Island and married her on a small Island in a winter storm on a surfing trip to Tofino. Between those annual trips and falling in love he does a lot of paddling. Leon loves, loves, loves small human powered water craft and has a tireless desire to try new things in them.

Leon works as both a coach and a coach educator and has been involved in paddlesports for over two decades. Leon was the first BCU Region Coaching Officer on the west coast and has served as a board member for the Trade Association of Paddle Sports and BCUNA.

Every year Leon attends symposiums across the country and internationally as a featured coach. He knows for sure that his goal has worked successfully on at least one person! Do what you love!

Ambassador and team paddler for Kokatat, Werner, Snapdragon, Sea Kayaking UK (NDK), and North Water.


Leon Sommé has been involved in the paddlesports world for over two decades. He is the co-owner and co-creator of the two time award winning kayak school Body Boat Blade International where he works as both a coach and coach educator. His accomplishments from rolling competitions, to expeditions to his involvement in the sport is extensive. Leon is team athlete for top paddlesports manufacturers such as Kokatat, Werner, Snap Dragon, North Water and SKUK (formally known as Nigel Dennis Kayaks) and has worked with some of these manufacturers to test and create award winning products. He has been featured many times in magazines, films, and at symposia. Recognized mostly as a sea kayaker, he also loves canoeing, white water, kayak surfing, race boats and stand up paddle boarding. Leon’s and his school Body Boat Blade’s extensive involvement in paddle sports is listed below.

Outstanding Recognition in Paddle Sports:

  • Voted Best Kayak School in the West twice!: Body Boat Blade is the only two time winner of Sea Kayaker Magazine’s Readers Choice Award for Best Kayak School 2009-2011 and 2012-2015.
  • One of North Americas Leading Paddling Schools in North America: Adventure Kayak Magazine named Body Boat Blade us as One of North Americas Leading Paddling Schools. (2012)
  • US Coast Guard Kayak Safety Panel: As an industry expert Leon was asked by the US Coast Guard, local law enforcement agencies, and local search and rescue teams to be part of a panel to seek out ways to help reduce the number of kayak incidents in our local waters (2009-2010)
  • Iconoclast: Leon was listed as a paddling Iconoclast along with Tao Berman, Steve Fisher and Brad Ludden in Paddler Magazine (2008)
  • Expert in peer reviewed articles on technique Leon participated as an Expert in a series of peer reviewed articles on technique by Adventure Kayak Magazine.
  • Featured Kayak Rolling Demonstrators with Dubside at West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008
  • Hosted dinner with Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker: Leon and Shawna hosted a dinner with State Senator Kevin Ranker and invited the Washington Water Trails Association to encourage development of a partnership with the State of Washington and the WWTA, to add more recognition and economic support for paddle sports in our region.
  • Best Skills Camp in America: Outside Magazine listed Body Boat Blade Five Day Camp as one of the best places to learn kayak skills in America! (2004)
  • SKUK/Nigel Dennis Expedition Center: Body Boat Blade Is a SKUK/NDK Expedition Center. One of a few unique centers around the world with highly qualified staff to coach and lead expeditions.

Paddle Sports Awards:

  • BCU Coach level 4 (BCU Level 5 Aspirant)
  • BCU Assessor Grade 4
  • BCU 5- Star Sea
  • BCU 4- Star White Water
  • BCU 4- Star Surf ( Coach Level 3 Training)
  • BCU 3- Star Open Canoe (4-Star Training)
  • BCU Canoe Safety Provider
  • UKCC Foundation Safety and Rescue Provider
  • UKCC Coastal Navigation and tidal planning Provider
  • UKCC Coach Level-1 Training and Assessment Provider
  • UKCC Coach Level-2 Training and Assessment Provider
  • BCU Coach Level-2 Training and Assessment Provider
  • BCU Coach Level-3 Training and Assessment Provider
  • BCUNA Course Provider
  • UKCC Coach Level Three Core Training 2013
  • BCU Optimizing Fitness and Performance one 2013
  • BCU Optimizing Fitness and Performance two 2013
  • BCU Coaching the Mind 2013
  • BCU Coaching Young Paddlers 2013
  • BCU Racing Module 2013

Additional Education in Paddlesports:

  • UKCC Coach Level Three Core training 2013
  • BCU 4-Star canoe training 2013
  • BCU 3-Star canoe assessment 2013
  • American Canoe Association: Advanced Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor (NC)
  • BCU 4-Star Canoe Training 2013
  • BCU Coaches Up-Date 1998-2013
  • Professional Stand Up Paddle Association Instructor Training at Deception Pass 2013
  • Hosted and attended three Forward stroke workshops with guest coach Dan Henderson (Olympic trainer and biomechanics expert on the forward stroke) (2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Traditional Greenland Kayak Building Workshop completed building the Disko Bay and East Greenland kayak replica and Greenland paddles. (2011)
  • BCU Coach Level-3 surf training 2005
  • Peak Performance - The mental dynamics of athletic performance at Western Washington University taught by Ralph Vernacchia Ph.d (2009)
  • Coach Level 5 Research Project: Developed a 3-year research project on the Biomechanics of lateral hip movement and dynamic stability in edging, bracing and rolling.

Industry Positions:

  • Co-creator, Owner and Coach of Body Boat Blade International Kayak School and Retail / web Store 2001- current
  • Distributor for Nigel Dennis Kayaks/Sea Kayaking UK 2001- current
  • Created two new Towing Systems in collaboration with North Water 2013-2014
  • Interim Board Member British Canoe Union North America to establish BCUNA as an independent, nonprofit association 2012 - 2013
  • Created Sea Kayak Rescues DVD With award winning film maker Bryan Smith 2011
  • West Coast Regional Coaching Officer for BCU North America 2003 - 2009
  • Hosted US Premiere of This is The Sea 4 At Sea kayak Georgia Symposium 2009
  • Hosted BCUNA Coaches Conference 2007
  • Board Member Trade Association of Paddle Sports 2003-2006
  • Hosted West Coast Tour of This is The Sea 2 in Seattle 2005
  • West Coast Sea Kayak Skills Symposium: Co-created, organized and hosted this highly successful symposium in 2001
  • Shearwater Adventures Guide and Coach. Co-developed and expanded Shearwaters Sea School program and retail shop into one of the best Sea kayak pro shops and schools in the Pacific Northwest 1995-2000
  • Kokatat Paddle Sports Equipment - employee 1992-1993

Ambassadors and Sponsored Paddlers for:

  • Kokatat Water Sports Equipment, 2001- current
  • Werner Paddles Inc., 2003 - current
  • North Water Paddle Sports Equipment, 2001- current
  • Snap Dragon Designs Inc., 2001- current
  • Sea Kayaking UK - (Nigel Dennis Kayaks) 2001- current
  • Outdoor Research - 2003- current
  • Lendal Paddles - 2000-2002
  • Alta Kayak Company - 2011-current

Notable Expeditions and Circumnavigations:

  • Vancouver Island 1997 (700 NM in 28 days)
  • San Juan Archipelago: All the islands of the San Juan Archipelago 1995-2000 (>400 NM ~5 years)
  • Iceland 2003 (1600 NM in 86 days)
  • Haida Gwaii 2006 (500 NM in 30 days)
  • Carmen and Danzante Islands Baja Mexico 2010 ( 130 NM 11 days)
  • Vancouver Island 2012 (700 NM in 44 days )

Expedition Sponsors:

  • Kokatat Water Sports Equipment
  • Werner Paddles Inc.
  • North Water Paddle Sports Equipment
  • Snap Dragon Designs
  • Sea Kayaking UK / Nigel Dennis Kayaks
  • Lendal Paddles
  • Outdoor Research
  • Cascade Designs
  • The North Face
  • Keri Trek
  • Native Eyewear
  • Stolquist
  • Alta Kayak

Competitions Won or Placed:

  • Deception Pass Dash US Mens Fast Sea Kayak 2nd place 2011
  • Sticks & Stones Greenland Roll Off, WA / 1st Place 2008

Featured Presenter and /or Coach At These Symposia:

  • Lejre Havkajak Symposium Denmark 2014
  • Go paddling/The Power of Water BCU Coaching Symposium MI 2014
  • Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium CA 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Alder Creek BCU Week 2012, 2013, 2014
  • West Michigan Coastal Kayak Symposium MI 2008, 2014
  • Paddle Praat Sea Kayak Symposium Netherlands 2013
  • Lumpy Waters Kayak Symposium 2010, 2012, 2013
  • Danish Sea Kayak Symposium Havkajakroernes Sommentræf 2012
  • Gales Storm Gathering Wa Wa Ontario Can 2012
  • Anacortes Paddle Fest WA 2012
  • Gales Storm Gathering MI 2011
  • Gulf Coast Kayak Symposium FL 1998-2009
  • West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium WA 2001-2009
  • West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium Instructors Exchange WA 2006-2009
  • Erik The Red Kayak Symposium Iceland 2009
  • Lower Columbia Kayak Roundup WA 2007-2009
  • Sea Kayak Georgia Sea Kayak Symposium GA 2004 & 2009
  • Down East Kayak Symposium ME 2006-2008
  • Instructors Exchange of British Columbia 2007 (Leon)
  • Flat Head Lake Kayak Festival MT 2005 & 2007
  • Southwest Sea Kayak Symposium CA 2007
  • Door County kayak Symposium WI 2007
  • Tacoma Sea Kayak Symposium 2006-2007
  • Port Angeles Kayak Symposium 2004-2007
  • Inland Sea Symposium WI 2006
  • Inland Sea Symposium WI 2006
  • Aqua Adventures Kayak Symposium CA 2006
  • BCU Kayak Skills Symposium CA 2003-2005
  • St Paddy’s Paddle-Fest WA 2005
  • International Kayak Symposium UK 1998, 2003, 2004
  • Atlantic Kayak Tours Kayak Skills Symposium NY 2000 & 2003
  • West Coast Sea Kayak Skills Symposium 2001

Featured Presenter at these Events and Venues (in addition to the listed symposiums)

  • Canoecopia - WI 2011, 2012, 2015
  • Boating Safely Fair hosted by San Juan Islands Recreational Boating Safety Group and the USCG Auxiliary (April 2014)
  • Hole in the Wall Paddling Club - WA, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Washington Water Trails Association Annual Fund raising event - WA 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Watcom Area Kayak Enthusiasts Paddle Sports Club - WA, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2014
  • Washington Kayak Club - WA 2003, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014
  • Werner Paddles - Employee Appreciation Lunch- WA 2004, 2012
  • Sea Kayak Association of British Columbia - BC 2011, 2012
  • Orcas Island Education Foundation Fundraiser - WA 2012
  • Salmonberry School - WA 2012
  • Orcas Island Christian School - WA 2011
  • Eco-Marine - BC 2011
  • Peninsula Trails Coalition -WA 2010
  • Winter Wanderlust - WA 2010
  • South Island Sea Kayaking Association - BC 2009
  • University of Victoria - BC 2006 & 2009
  • Seattle Mountaineers - WA 2000, 2006, 2009
  • Penguin Paddlers Kayak Club - WA 2009
  • Plattsburg University - NY 2008
  • Elder Hostel - WA, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008
  • Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club - WA 2005 & 2008
  • Oregon Ocean Paddling Club - OR 2008
  • Victoria Yacht Club - BC, 2007
  • Waldron Island School - WA 2007
  • University of Oregon - OR 2007
  • Anglesea Sea and Surf Kayak Symposium- Wales UK 2004
  • Orcas Island SeaDoc Society Fundraiser - WA 2004
  • Adventures Edge - CA 2004
  • Sport Bud Titan store - Iceland 2003
  • Tacoma Mountaineers - WA 2000

Featured in these paddle sport films:

  • Body Boat Blade YouTube Channel - Over 100,000 Views! - Stand-Up Kayaking 2013
    • The Speed Launch 2013
    • The Haghigi 2013
    • The Dump 2014
    • Hoe to Make a Lighted Compass 2014
  • Body Boat Blade’s Sea Kayak Rescues DVD
  • Justine Curgenven’s This is the Sea 1 DVD
  • Justine Curgenven’s This is the Sea 2 DVD
  • Justine Curgenven’s This is the Sea 4 DVD
  • Reel Water Productions - Pacific Horizons DVD
  • Kayak Journal episode 1
  • Kayak Journal episode 2
  • Kayak Journal episode 3
  • North Water Product Education & Promotion Video SCO paddling
  • Canoe and Kayak Magazines Virtual coach series #1
  • Canoe and Kayak Magazines Virtual coach series #2
  • Canoe and Kayak Magazines Virtual coach series #3
  • Adventure Kayak Magazine Edging your kayak digital extra 2013
  • Kayak inks Golden Gate Kayak Symposium 2012 film by Alex Mathews
  • Adventure Kayak Magazine Deception Pass: 2011 episode featuring Body Boat Blade
  • The West Coast Kayak Symposium Sea Kayak Rolling Demo Reel 2005 and 2007

Featured in these magazines, books, newspapers industry catalogs, podcasts, and radio and TV interviews:

  • Adventure Kayak sponsoring and featuring a series of Body Boat Blade videos in AK online media in 2015
  • Featured speakers at the Kayak Salon hosted by the Chicago Area sea Kayakers Association 2014
  • Adventure Kayak featured Body Boat Blade You tube videos on there site 2014
  • Adventure Kayak 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 (Shawna and Leon where also contributing experts in the Adventure Kayak Magazines Peer-Reviewed Technique column in all issues tin 2013)
  • Rapid Medias’ Annual Buyers Guide 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Alaska Airlines Magazine 2013
  • Chile National News 2013
  • Outdoor Research Online Catalog 2011, 2013
  • Canoe & Kayak Buyers Guide 2012
  • Sea Kayaker Magazine 2008, 2012 Print and online magazine respectively
  • TV 2 Nord, Denmark 2012
  • Havkayak the Danish Kayak Magazine 2012
  • Kayak Mainline Podcast, 2012
  • Sea Kayaking, by Dan Henderson, The Mountaineers Press, 2012
  • Snap Dragon Catalog 2003-2012
  • Islands Sounder, WA 1998, 2002, 2003, 2011
  • Werner Catalog -2006, 2008, 2011
  • Canoe & Kayak 2010 - recently featured in the Virtual Coach digital and print series
  • The Leader, WA 2010
  • The Sequim Gazette WA 2010
  • Kokatat Catalog - 2004, 2008, 2009
  • Paddler 2008
  • Kayak Touring 2006, 2008
  • KUOW Public Radio, WA 2006
  • The Seattle Times, WA 2006
  • The Daily Press - Ashland, WI 2006
  • Canoe and Kayak UK 2005
  • Paddle Sports Business 2004
  • Seattle Post-Intelelligencer newspaper,WA 2004
  • The Mining Journal, MI 2004
  • Getaways Magazine, WA 2004
  • The Arcata Eye, CA 2004
  • Iceland Review Newspaper 2003
  • Iceland National TV 2003
  • Sunset Magazine 2003
  • The Journal of the San Juan Islands, WA 2000
  • Lendal Catalog -2004
  • Extreme Vision Systems Catalog 2004
  • Roz Wear Catalog 2000
  • Our Images also appear on hang tags for Snap Dragon, and Werner and Shawna’s art is used by Kokatat in hang tags and catalogs.

Kayak Schools, Guiding Companies, industry businesses and clubs Leon has been hired to train guides, staff or instructors:

  • Anacortes Kayak Tours - Guide Training
  • Atlantic Kayak Tours - Coach Training
  • Bon Accord Kayak Tours - Guide Training
  • Carpe Diem Kayaking - Coach Training
  • Columbia Kayak Adventures - Guide and Instructor Training
  • Discovery Sea Kayaking - Guide Training
  • Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Center - Instructor Training
  • Glacier Bay Kayaking - Guide/Coach
  • Hole In the Wall Kayak Club - Membership Training
  • Inland Sea Symposium - Instructor update
  • Island Outfitters - Instructor Training
  • Living Adventures - Instructor Update
  • Oasis - We work as community based instructors for the Oasis program. A collaboration of Orcas Island public school and the community to educate young people
  • Olympia Mountaineers - Membership Training
  • Outdoor Odysseys - Guide Training
  • Rip Tides and Rapids - Coach Training
  • San Juan Outfitters - Guide Training
  • Seattle Mountaineers - Membership Training
  • Seattle Mountaineers - Instructor Training
  • Sea Kayak Association of British Columbia - Instructor Training
  • Shearwater Adventures - Guide and Coach Training
  • Tacoma Mountaineers - Membership Training and Leadership Training
  • Watcom Area Kayak Enthusiasts Kayak Club - Membership Training
  • West Michigan Coastal Kayak Association - Instructor update
  • South Island Sea Kayak Association - Membership Training
  • South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayak Symposium - Instructor Training
  • Washington Kayak Club - Membership and Leadership Training
  • Werner Paddles - Staff Training

Paddle Sports Memberships: (current and past)

  • Paddlesports North America
  • British Canoe Union
  • British Canoe Union North America
  • American Canoe Association
  • Washington Water Trails Association
  • Nordkapp Trust
  • Trade Association of Paddle Sports
  • University of Minnesota Kayak Club
  • USA Canoe and Kayak
  • Sea Kayak Association of British Columbia
  • Hole in the Wall Kayak Club
  • Old Man and the Sea Kayak Club Denmark

Paddle Sport Mentors:

Bill Taylor /Coach L-5Andy Stamp /Coach L-5
Ian Colman /Coach L-5Kevin Danforth /Coach L-5
Mike Devlin BCU Coaching Director / Coach L-5Nigel Foster /Coach L-5
Nigel Dennis /Coach L-4Kevin Mansel /Coach L-5
Fiona Whitehead /Coach L-5Scott Farity /L-5 asspirant
Derick Hutchinson Senior CoachBill Lozano /L-5 asspirant
Mike McClure /Coach L-5Steve Mcdonald /Coach L-5
Oisin Hallissey / Coach L-5Pete Catterall /Coach L-5
Rowlen Woven /Coach L-5Loel Collins /Coach L-5
Bob Timms /Coach L-5Trys Morris /Coach L-5
Nigel Timmons /Coach L-5Nick Cunliff /Coach L-5
Howard Jeffs /Coach L-5Rose Marie Powell /Coach L-5
Dave Ide /Coach L-4Matt Berry /Coach L-5
Olly Sanders /Coach L-5Rob Arrowsmith /Coach L-5
Gordon Brown /Coach L-5Phil Hadley /Coach L-5
Tom Berg /Coach L-4Nigel Robinson /Coach L-5
Steve Maynard /Coach L-5Ian Hamond /Coach L-3
Ray Goodwin /Coach L-5Mark Hickman /Coach L-5
Jonathan Walpole /Coach L-4Keith Hampton /Coach L-5
Scott Williams /Coach L-4Sid Sinfield Coach L-5
Claire Knifton /Coach L-5Rob Yates /Coach L-5
Dubside /Winner Greenland rolling championDan Henderson - USA Canoe/Kayak National Development Coach
Greg Barton /US Gold Medallist

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