October 5, 2022
Sail Canada announced last week that Hannah Stevens and Mansell Styles have been selected Sail Canada Instructors of the Year for 2020 and 2021, respectively, as National Coaches Week comes to an end.
The Sail Canada Instructor of the Year Award is presented annually to an instructor who demonstrates excellence on water teaching and communicating skills, is respectful, fair and equitable, encourages pride in the sport, has taken part in clinics and performs above and beyond the requirements of an instructor. The winners are Sail Canada certified and registered instructors who have made a significant impact and have accepted the challenge to improve the level of sailing at their club/school. Honest, sincere and honourable in their relationships with sailors as well as looking to improve their own approach in teaching, training and mentoring new instructors, Sail Canada Instructor of the Year Award winners have a high degree of self-awareness and the ability to reflect critically on the information exchange between them and the sailors, and how their perspectives influence their interactions with others.
Nominations have been evaluated based on a time period ranging from January 1 to December 31 for 2020 and 2021.
Hannah Stevens: winner of the Sail Canada 2020 Instructor of the Year Award
Hannah Stevens has been a full-time instructor at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club (RVicYC) each summer for the past five years, teaching levels from Wet Feet to CANSail 6 and Spinnaker & Trapeze levels 1 & 2. She also has instructed and coached with the Vancouver Island School Sailing League for various middle and high school teams, and has been the Opti team coach as well as a Club 420 coach with the RVicYC.
Hannah was her club’s Junior Commodore in 2017 and 2018 as well as the past president of the University of Victoria Sailing Club. She has also attended professional development and certification events as a support person for special needs such as autism, and has worked part-time with the Boys and Girls Club of Victoria.
“I feel so honoured to have received this award in 2020,” said Hannah Stevens. “Throughout the pandemic, sailing played a unique role in maintaining a sense of normalcy while we navigated Public Health Office guidelines. I feel so lucky to have been able to play a role in the development of sailors during that time. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to my mentors, co-coaches and all the athletes I have worked with, who have continued to help me learn and grow as a coach as well. I feel so lucky to have the support system I have, both at home and through my team, as well as the Sail Canada network. Thank you all for the years of mentorship and guidance, and I look forward to working and sailing with you again in the future.”
“Our children know Hannah very well,” said the parent of young sailors at the RVicYC. “All three are coached by her at different levels. In terms of personality, she is very warm and caring. She has outstanding coaching skills and motivates learners to improve performance in every single race. She also provides great emotional support when junior learners experience challenges on the water.”
“Hannah is an exemplary leader with the RVicYC,” added Stephen McBride, the club’s Sailing Director. “When it comes to instructing, Hannah has become a go-to person for local sailors to be both introduced to the sport and to be accelerated along the CANSail and racing pathway. She is always early, always positive, always curious. Hannah brings not just a level of energy to her classes but a level of inquisitive honesty that allows others around her to seek out solutions and better their sailing. From Opti Wet Feet to our Women’s Salty Sisters program to top performers on the race team, she is always one of the club’s favourite coaches. When people register in January, I get emails asking if Hannah will be their child’s instructor again! She also expanded her repertoire as a child care support person for some participants who needed support for their first-time sailing. She has turned that into another part-time job throughout the year, working with the Boys and Girls Club of Victoria supporting youth. With eyes on the future as a Learning Facilitator and Competition Development Coach, Hannah will be supporting sailors far into the future.”
Mansell Styles: winner of the Sail Canada 2021 Instructor of the Year Award
Mansell Styles, from Kingston, ON, has his CANSail 6 level and is also certified to teach both CANSail 5 & 6.
In 2020, after earning his CANSail 1/2 instructing level, he was unable to put it to use due to the pandemic. He instead spent the summer sailing on his own time to improve his skills. The following year, Mansell earned his CANSail 3/4 instructing level and was hired at the Kingston Yacht Club to spend the summer coaching mostly younger sailors as part of the Wet Feet, Opti beginner and Adventure Sail programs, and he won the Top Instructor Award at the Kingston Yacht Club.
In the summer of 2021, he volunteered to participate in a CANSail pilot program looking to implement a revised checklist, putting in an extra effort to evaluate and train his sailors to go through two different checklists simultaneously. He successfully submitted all of his feedback to Sail Canada, which was able to use his data to further benefit the implementation and development of CanSail programming. In the fall, Mansell enrolled at Queen’s University and joined the sailing team, and he often volunteered himself for university regattas to work on race committees or to act as a mark boat in place of competing, allowing his teammates to sail and adding to the overall quality of events where he volunteered. In January of 2022, he joined the Board at the Canadian InterCollegiate Sailing Association, where he continues to support the sailing of others.
“I have a lot of fun coaching and being on the water, and I am grateful to be recognized for doing something I love,” said Mansell Styles.
“Mansell has set a new benchmark for what is possible to achieve as an instructor,” said Dylan Scott, the Head Coach of the Kingston Yacht Club. “Although he was relatively new to instructing, he quickly distinguished himself through his patience and respect for the sailors. His lessons were always communicated clearly to his sailors, who all seemed to retain the information instantly. The joy and confidence he inspired in his sailors showed, as they were always eager to go sailing and were comfortable being on the water. While in Wet Feet, his sailors all greatly surpassed the skills required of them, to a level we did not think was possible to achieve in such a short time frame with a youth program. His sailors were even outperforming most sailors in the older Opti beginner program.”
“In Adventure Sail, he had a sailor with special needs in his group. During that time, he was the perfect role model for his program on how to treat that sailor with respect, and include the sailor in all of the activities. He was always the first to volunteer to do extra odd jobs around the club. I’ve never met anyone as dedicated to their professional development as a coach.”