Now in its sixth 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. Announced at the 2019 Monaco Yacht Show, this year’s award winner is Bosun Sam Brown, who was nominated by Deckhand Colleen Meehan.
“Since I was young, I have been surrounded by great leaders, especially my father, who is a skipper on fishing vessels off the coast of Cornwall. Going on board with him since I can remember, I was able to watch the way he [led] his team, through firm guidance and by giving people responsibility that made them proud of their work,” Brown told JPMA.
“I tried to follow those same principles when I joined the yachting industry. I feel very lucky that I have had the chance to lead such great crewmembers like Colleen, who are keen to learn and take pride in their work. What I have learned the most is if you can get them to care about what they do, they will do it to the best of their ability. It is finding their internal motivation and helping them bring it to the surface.”
Meehan worked under Brown for about a year, during which he demonstrated countless times his natural ability to be a leader, teacher, and friend. “I think we can all agree that joining your first boat is not easy and starting out on deck as a green female is quite intimidating,” she said in her nomination. “Sam was not going to treat me any differently because I was a girl. He expected me to work just as hard, if not harder than anyone else on deck.”
Overwhelmed with the difficulty of the course for her USCG 100-ton license, she came back to the boat frustrated with homework she didn’t understand. Brown encouraged and motivated her by teaching her about the bridge on their watches underway, what everything means in the log book, and explaining the meaning of the lights displayed by other vessels.
“Sam volunteered his own time to help me with my charts and explain my rules of the road questions. Before I knew it, I passed all the exams and can honestly say that I could not have done it without Sam,” she said in her nomination. “I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to work under Samuel Brown and believe that he deserves to be recognized for his greatness.”
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. JPMA received many great nominations, and special mentions were given to captains Carol Benbrook and Matthew Rutterford.
Benbrook was nominated by Pippa Nicholas, who said: “Carol is the ultimate teaching machine, the pay-it-forward captain, the ‘drills make us perfect’ person. All with a smile and a get-it-done attitude. The first there and the last to leave. Leader by example, not because of four stripes.”
Rutterford was nominated by Alan Vermeulen, who said: “He is one of the best captains I have worked for. He kept safety as a top priority and passed knowledge on to any and all crewmembers patiently. Most importantly, he ensured that the atmosphere on board was always great, and I am yet to find a yacht with a better crew dynamic and professionalism.”