Now in its seventh year, the John Percival Leadership Award rewards crewmembers at all levels who personify the ideal of the yacht training center John Percival Marine Associates (JPMA) & Hoylake Sailing School Ltd.
They aim to promote high standards in all levels of crew in all departments, inspiring students to return to their vessel emboldened and ready to nurture junior crew. The 2020 award winner is Capt. Robbie Fox, who was nominated by Jonny Caswell.
In his nomination of Fox, Caswell said, “When I joined M/Y Maraya
, it was my first job on board a superyacht, and it is known that to get your first role is easier said than done. It takes risk to employ someone with near to no experience but Robbie, as captain, believed in me and this was a taste of how incredible he is.”
With more than 10 years in the industry, including stints on some of the most prestigious yachts, Fox was never arrogant, Caswell said. “He took pride in bringing the best out of the crew and especially me, who struggled to learn the basics, but he never shouted instead really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.”
While there were times when crew found it difficult, Capt. Fox made sure to always take them aside and make a plan on how to resolve and learn from their mistakes or upsets. “I’ve met a lot of people in my life, but Robbie Fox is the best leader and role model I have ever met, and [I] for sure would not be the man I am today,” Caswell said. “And with his support my ambition to become a captain is slowly but surely becoming a reality.
“If anyone deserves this award it is him, because I can for sure vouch for all the crew that have worked with Robbie or know of him would agree. He showed me tender driving, safety and security drills, how to blow up an inflatable slide, which is an absolute pain but had many laughs,” Caswell said. “But the main thing he said to me, ‘yachting can be fun; however, safety is always paramount,’ from then on safety is always my number one priority, and as I grow in my career, I will follow that with my crew. It should be installed [into] everyone from day one.”
Capt. Fox, on hearing the news that he had won, told JPMA, “What a lovely and unexpected honor. I was fortunate enough to actually meet John Percival on a couple of occasions. It was inspiring for me to watch the way he passed on the kind of experience he had to his students, and I was always struck by his drive to promote and encourage onboard learning. To be given a leadership award in his memory is a great feeling, but it’s really just a testament to him and others like him that I’ve been lucky enough to work with and learn from in the past.”
Though it can be difficult to imagine, Fox mentions that even the most experienced leaders have been junior crewmembers at some point and no one moves up the ranks without others sharing their knowledge along the way. “If it can be done as John did it — with humility and genuine encouragement — then all the better,” he said. “I am only one of the countless seafarers he inspired. If there were more like him, the world would be a better place!”
The award was created for JPMA’s founder Capt. John Percival, who was an ambassador for onboard training and encouraging investment in a yacht’s crew.