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Europe’s Premier Canoe Rendezvous.

April 19-22 2019
Rivière Drôme, France


2018 instructors :

We are working on the 2018 instructor staff. Here are those who already signed in :


  • Jack Triest

    Jack Triest

    Native from the Netherlands, Jack is experienced with working and traveling as a research engineer in the remote regions of Antarctica, Greenland, Svalbard and plenty of other places. He has done classic river trips such as the Spey, Semois and Whanganui. Attending the OCF since 2013 to improve solo paddling skills, in 2017 he independently paddled some 800 km on the Big Salmon, Bell and Porcupine rivers above the Arctic Circle.
    This year he will participate as an instructor to share his enthusiasm and experience of remote long distance paddling with a focus on the Yukon, Canada. You always wanted to know how to plan a trip, make camp, load the (foldable) boat, enjoy the wildlife and stay safe? Come along to one of the ateliers in French or English (and Dutch if requested).
    No wilderness trip is complete without captivating photos to share it. As a passionate photographer, he will also cover how to get those shots of the silky water with long-exposure, star trails and northern lights, or whatever else you may want to learn about landscape photography.
  • Andy Oughton

    Andy Oughton

    Andy is a British Canoeing Coach Educator (Instructor Trainer) with a passion for multi-day canoe trips. He has supported and assessed many young people on expeditions. He also organizes a 100 mile "Canoe Test" for youth groups which is now in its 53rd year. After participating three times in the OCF, Andy joins the instructor staff.  He will offer various technique workshops. He will also run a trip to introduce British Canoeing's approaches to Leadership.
  • Ian Purkis

    Ian Purkis

    From a childhood spent playing and chasing rabbits around the Sussex woods, through early working years as a woodsman, gamekeeper and deer manager to years working on conservation projects in Africa and throughout the UK, Ian is real outdoors man, spending more nights in his hammock than in his house in Wales. A passionate paddler and wooden house and canoe builder, he also guides trips everywhere in UK and knows Scottish lochs by heart. In 2016, Ian joins the OCF staff with “Leave No Trace” workshops.
    His website : www.seedawood.co.uk
  • Armelle Van Hauwaert and Peter Stokx from "Canad" company.

    Armelle Van Hauwaert and Peter Stokx from "Canad" company.

    Armelle Van Hauwaert and Peter Stokx from "Canad" company : outdoor cooking, technique and safety clinics. These two famous canoe paddlers are pros and totally addicted to the open canoe lifestyle (they spend more than 200 days a year in the Outdoors !). They are the owners and the instructors of the famous company "Canad" proposing canoe and outdoor programs a little bit everywhere in the world : www.canad.be
  • Christine and Richard Dorlencourt

    Christine and Richard Dorlencourt

    French river guide, Richard will propose a workshop for complete beginners (in French) : basic techniques and safety tips. Christine, his wife, will propose an outdoor cooking workshop.

    Their blog : spiritofkayaking.com

  • Greg Spencer

    Greg Spencer

    Greg has been canoeing since the 1970s, and instructing since the 1980s. He is an ACA instructor and a BCU coach, as well as being UK representative of the ACA, Acting Chairman of the British "Open Canoe Association" and a specialist in canoe sailing. He will again offer courses in river canoeing and canoe touring. www.singleblade.co.uk
  • Franziska « Franzi » Pokorny

    Franziska « Franzi » Pokorny

    Franzi lives in Ilanz, a small town in a mountain valley in Graubünden, Switzerland. Not far from her home starts the Rhine and its 750 miles journey towards the North Sea. Here, where the mighty river is still young and frolicsome, Franzi became a raft guide in 1990. She hadn't paddled seriously before, and was unsuspecting but filled with enthusiasm for this adventure. And for her, the fascination of paddling is still as it was in the beginning. “If you listen to the water, respect it, play with it and try to understand it, you can learn all about life”. Franzi is a multi-discipline ACA Instructor (WW Open Canoe, FreeStyle Canoe, Coastal Kayak, SUP) and a featured presenter throughout Europe.
  • Aurélien Rateau

    Aurélien Rateau

    Aurélien has always been fascinated by rivers wildlife and canoeing is for him a great way to explore mother nature secrets and jewels. Fed up with 10 years of a stressful job in a office, he decided to change his life, starting with a riverguide diploma before spending 2014 summer exploring 5 of the last wildest rivers of Europe. His goal : present them from various perspectives such as history and ecology, and above all, share his love for river explorations, paddle in hand and a fishing rod never too far in the canoe.

    Hi website : www.destination-rivieres.org
  • Jeff Blervaque

    Jeff Blervaque

    River guide for more than 30 years, Jeff is based in the French Alps. Added to his own kayaking and rafting activities, he is also a respected river guide instructor. He joins the 2015 OCF staff with a new "leadership" workshop (in french) about group management and preventive safety.

  • Philippe Lloret

    Philippe Lloret

    Drôme river child, Philippe has been watching the birds for a very long time. This passion for ornithology led him to explore the local mountains' fauna and flora. Today he works as a mountain guide, but also as a nature animator and technician for the "Département de la Drôme". Even if he speaks 3 languages, he will offer "promenade chats" in French, presenting the fauna and flora of the river and its Alpine and Mediterranean influences.

  • Guillaume Doré

    Guillaume Doré

    Wild nature addict, Guillaume had the privilege to be one of the students of “Die” outdoor school, probably the most famous one in France, located not far from Mirabel et Blacons where the Festival takes place. Convinced by the educational virtues of outdoor sports, he decided to become a professional river guide, completing a national degree at “Le Merlet”, another famous outdoor sports school and summer camp. This is where he’s working every summer now, guiding multi-day canoe trips in the beautiful “gorges du Tarn”. New instructor at the 2016 OCF, he will share his bivouac tips and tarp “science” ! (Workshop in French).
  • Jérôme Benoît

    Jérôme Benoît

    Jérôme is a real child of the Ardèche river : born in a family of canoe racers, he was a boatman, taking the first tourists of the Ardèche in traditional boats. Then he worked in a canoe rental and a famous french canoe factory. Today, he’s a freelance canoe repairer. Jérôme joins the instructor staff to share is canoe culture with various workshops dedicated to canoe camping, safety and technique.
    His website : here.
  • Pablo Vernier

    Pablo Vernier

    Pablo is a local fishing guide and paddler. He will share his two passions with original workshops explaining basic fishing techniques of course, but also river fauna and flora. Workshops in French.

    His website : gardezlapeche.com

  • Cyril Porcher

    Cyril Porcher

    Professional river guide, Cyril works for "Loire Aventure", club and company offering canoe trips on the beautiful Loire river.
  • Joris Leclercq

    Joris Leclercq

    Professional river guide, Joris is an accomplished canoe expeditionist, specializing in solo paddling trips. In 2019, his next adventure will lead him from Mongolia to Russia to reach the Baikal lake. He shares his passion for paddling sports with his company, Destination H2O, offering canoe bivouac trips on the famous Loire valley. He is also a emergency first aider and coach at the French Canoe Kayak Federation.

    His website : www.destination-h2o.fr
    Follow his adventures : Facebook.com/jorisadventures

  • Yannick Vericel

    Yannick Vericel

    Yannick is passioned paddler and river guide based in Lyon. He loves to share his local spots, always remembering adventure is just at your door. He also takes his clients to Europe's four corners : Norway, Finland, Sweden... He is also an outdoor sports instructor with an impressive pro resume !

    His website : www.randovive.com
  • Raphaël Thiébaut

    Raphaël Thiébaut

    Famous french river guide, expeditionnist, photographer and safety instructor, emergency nurse, Raphaël is also a white water canoe specialist. He's back at the Festival with some clinics dedicated to first aid techniques and canoe minor injuries. Also, he will present a slideshow of his last sea kayak expedition : Cap Horn.
  • Mark-Jan Dielemans

    Mark-Jan Dielemans

    Originally from the Netherlands and now living for 8 years in Bristol, Great Britain with his wife and two young children. He bought his first “expedition” kayak when he was 17 and paddled through the canals of Amsterdam. Soon did bigger trips on the IJselmeer, Waden- and Northsea and became a Seakayak coach. He soon developed a passion for the “open” canoe and started in early 1998 the first European Canoe Symposium which he ran for over 10 years. He became the first British Canoeing level 4 open canoe coach in the Netherlands and also gained qualifications of the A.C.A. (Instructor) and Canada.
    He is still active as a council member of the Open Canoe Association and organised special event for families, youth and children. One of his highlights was paddling with Andy Oughton and Noddy the Bliss canoe trail; trip of 824 miles through/round England.
    Five years ago he visited the OCF as a participant but now he is here to “help” anyone who wants to improve or just wants some  Encouragement or just to say; “yes that's it! Go for it!” From beginner to improver, solo and tandem and also Family’s and children. Shame life is too short!

Organization team

  • Gervanne Camping and the Gontard family.

    Gervanne Camping and the Gontard family.

    The OCF is possible thanks to the Gontard family and their lovely camping site by the river. Always present for logistics and moral support, always smiling and welcoming. Nothing would be possible without Catherine and Jeff.


  • Paul Villecourt : Ze boss !

    Paul Villecourt : Ze boss !

    Creator and organizer of the Open Canoe Festival, Paul works as an outdoor reporter and photographer. Author of the book “Guide du canoë en France” (Canoeing in France), his reports led him to paddle the world four corners and are regularly published in press magazines. His website : www.villecourt.com

    In 2017, with Philippe Bouvat, he paddled France from east to west during a 2 months and 1460 km trip between Geneva and Saint Nazaire. www.lagrandetraversee.fr

  • Philippe Bouvat : Mac Gyver !

    Philippe Bouvat : Mac Gyver !

    At the OCF or in a canoe, Philippe is never far from Paul. Real "Mac Gyver" fixing any technical problem, incredible photographer, Philippe is also the real guardian of the Drôme river he is paddling all year long. There is no better guide to track the beaver and other local animals.

    In 2017, with Paul Villecourt, he paddled France from east to west during a 2 months and 1460 km trip, between Geneva and Saint Nazaire. www.lagrandetraversee.fr

  • Julien Gontard : workshop manager.

    Julien Gontard : workshop manager.

    It takes a real professional to manage 25 instructors from 5 different countries and more than 60 workshops in 3 days. This key person is called Julien, also taking care of the graphic designs and many other tasks. He's a Gontard : Dual Core processor, able to manage 5 things at the same time. Only 21 and already entrepreneur :


  • Valentin Grollemund : video man.

    Valentin Grollemund : video man.

    He did all the official clips from the very beginning. Professionnal kayaker for a long time, river guide, he is also TV production assistant manager at the Freeride World Tour, biggest fresstyle ski event on earth. Yeah !
  • Guillaume Manen : webmaster and barman.

    Guillaume Manen : webmaster and barman.

    This guy is ambidextrous ! He’s the one who designed this beautiful website. And during the Festival, he is the bar manager, assited by Christelle.

  • Our magic volunteers !

    Our magic volunteers !

    Big thanks to our numerous volunteers helping to organize the OCF !