Meet the people behind the product…
Marco Caporaso, President And Co-Founder/Shaper
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois and currently a resident of Boynton Beach, Florida, Marco has never spent much time away from the water. With nearly 20 years of experience racing high performance sailboats, as well a
s an extensive background in polymer chemistry, Marco has spent much of his life dedicated to combining his unique skill set and passions in order to strike the perfect balance between hard work and an active lifestyle. Marco began his career as a chemist and manager of research and development for ABATRON, Inc., a leader in the research, formulation, and manufacture of epoxy and related compounds. In 2012, Marco paired his expertise in composite development with his passion for water sports and began experimenting with the creation and development of high performance resins for marine use and building stand up paddleboards as a hobby in his spare time. In 2013, Marco co-founded SURFIS, Inc., a unique group of chemists and designers who consult on and design resins for a broad range of industries. In 2014, SURFIS Inc. launched WHALEBACK, an innovative brand of stand up paddleboards, developed and manufactured exclusively in the United States, using state of the art resins and cutting edge technology. In addition to paddleboarding, Marco enjoys sailing, rock climbing, hiking, biking, running, camping, skiing, snowboarding, and further exploring his love of the outdoors by living a healthy, active lifestyle.
Erin Whaley, Director of Sales and Business Development (National)
Recently relocated from Chicago, Illinois, and currently residing in Boynton Beach, Florida, Erin has spent her time on or near the water since a very young age. Her love of the water and water sports led to a career in the yachting industry, where she coordinated large-scale yacht racing events and worked as a U.S. Sailing Safe Power Boat Handling and Safety and Rescue Instructor. Erin most recently comes to WHALEBACK from the travel industry, where she developed and sold and operated custom international adventure tours to remote destinations. Erin is the Director of Sales and Business Development for SURFIS Inc. and WHALEBACK and also plans and leads WHALEBACK outings and paddle tours. In her spare time, she is a professional contemporary dancer and also enjoys yoga, hiking, camping, boating, and travelling.
Jose Cavalcante, Production Manager/Shaper/Artist
Originally from Santos, Brazil, Jose has been shaping surfboards for most of his life. Currently a resident of West Palm Beach, Florida, Jose comes to WHALEBACK from a career in construction, where he worked as a supervisor for many years. He recently left construction to return to his passion of building and shaping surfboards and SUPs. Jose brings a wealth of experience and a strong work ethic to WHALEBACK, and leads by example while supervising the WHALEBACK production team. In addition to building surfboards and SUPs, Jose enjoys surfing, fishing, and spear fishing.
Indy and Bella, Board Buddies
Indy and Bella are not only part of the WHALEBACK family, they are our resident office assistants and paddleboard dogs. Though not natural water breeds, they are trying his paws at paddleboarding and becoming quite the water enthusiasts. In their free time, they enjoy running, chasing balls, burying bones on the beach, wrestling, and digging in the sand.
Meet our brand ambassadors…
Brittany McMillan, Run to Your Happy Place – San Jose, California
Brittany is the proud founder of Run to Your Happy Place, a website and blog about living a life full of fitness, health, and happiness. In addition to guiding people toward their best selves via her blog, Brittany is also a Diamond level coach for Beachbody, helping men and women set and reach personal fitness goals through diligent preparation, planning, and accountability. In addition to helping people find their best selves, Brittany enjoys good food, good wine, and doing SUP yoga on her 10.5′ Paddle Fit SUP. Brittany lives in San Jose, California, with the love of her life, Charlie.
Kirsten Lefeldt – Chicago, Illinois
Kirsten is a SUP enthusiast and lover of outdoor sports. Her love of water started at a very young age in northern Germany, where she grew up surrounded by many lakes and in close proximity to the North and the Baltic Seas. After having only been on a paddle board five times, she entered and won her first recreational SUP race in 2014 and immediately caught the SUP bug. When she’s not on her board she can be found inline skating, competing in Cyclocross races, or snowboarding. Kirsten currently lives in Chicago where she is a certified personal trainer and TRX instructor, sharing her passions and motivating others to live a healthy outdoor lifestyle.
Amie Stefanich – Chicago, Illinois
Three years ago, Amie rather impulsively decided to buy her first paddleboard. Two days later, she entered her first SUP race. She instantly fell in love with paddleboard racing and all the places SUP takes her. Originally from west Michigan, Amie especially loves paddling and exploring Lake Michigan and sharing her experiences on the Great Lakes with others. Amie currently lives and paddles in Chicago, Illinois.
Kelly Futrell – Trenton, Michigan
Kelly is a retired retail sales manager, Master rated water skier, competitive sailor, windsurfer, and surfer, and now spends his free time kayaking and paddleboarding on Burt Lake in Indian River, MI. Kelly is a Beachbody Coach from Trenton, MI, who believes in “PMA” (positive mental attitude), health, and fitness, and leads a life of example for his friends and family. Kelly’s favorite board is the 10’6 Sannibel Paddle Fit. He’s currently working on mastering paddleboard burpees.
John and Julie Serb – Grosse Ile, Michigan
The Serb family lives for the summer and time out and around the Great Lakes. John and Julie enjoy their boat along with their three children, Ethan, age 4, Alianna, age 2, and Christian, age 7 months. On weekends in the summer, you will most often find them spending time on their boat, swimming, or participating in water sports. They have been in search of their next family activity and paddle boarding is something that the whole family can enjoy! Their favorite board is the 12’6 Tortuga, which they can all ride together!
Rick Raymond – Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Originating in Babylon, on Long Island, New York, Rick is a long-time Florida resident and SUP enthusiast. He honed his sales skills for over a decade as a Senior Regional Sales Manager for Garmin International, then began spreading his love of SUP throughout South Florida as owner/founder of Palm Beach Paddleboards. Rick continued to grow and promote the SUP industry as an independent sales rep and consultant for several paddleboard brands before finding a home at WHALEBACK. Rick is an ASI Certified SUP Instructor and has led classes and tours throughout Florida. When Rick takes a break from selling boards, he can be found racing paddleboards, fishing, or hanging out (read: paddleboarding) with his daughter.
Matt Markillie – Key West, Florida
Born and raised in southeast Michigan, Matt grew up working on his family’s apple orchard before going on to receive his bachelors in nursing from Michigan State University. After graduation, Matt worked as an ER nurse for 3 years in west Michigan, before heading south for the Florida Keys. He currently works as an ER nurse in Key West, where he’s been for the past 3 years. Matt rented his first paddleboard on vacation in Florida and as soon as he moved to the Keys, he bought his first board. Matt loves paddleboarding and freediving and spending as much time on or submerged in the water as he can. Watching the sunset while drinking an adult beverage on a SUP is one of his favorite things in life. Matt recently joined Whaleback as a brand ambassador and team rider. These days, you can find him circumnavigating Key West on his 12’6 Kaanapali.
Jen Whaley – St. Thomas, USVI
Jen Whaley is a physician assistant who discovered paddleboarding in Key West, FL, where she lived for the past 5 years. She loves to get out on the water and paddle any way she can – races in lakes, paddlesurfing in the ocean, ecotours in mangrove canals, but mostly she loves paddleboard yoga! After section hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail this summer, and a short stint in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she has recently settled down in St. Thomas, with her fiance, Nick, and her two pups, Willy and Otto. When she’s not at work, Jen can usually be found out on the water or doing yoga on the beach.