Alex Byczko: Instructor of the Year
Published on September 21st, 2023
Alex Byczko (Toronto, ON), Head Instructor at the Westwood Sailing Club, has been selected Sail Canada 2022 Instructor of the Year. The annual award recognizes an instructor who demonstrates excellence on the 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 what is required from an instructor. Nominations have been evaluated based on the 2022 calendar year.
“I’m super surprised and honestly really stoked to be receiving this award from Sail Canada so, thank you!” said Byczko. “It’s just awesome to be recognized for something that I absolutely love and have a really huge passion for. I started sailing in 2000 and instructing in 2003, and I knew I had an addiction to the silent rush and power and I just wanted to share that feeling and sensation with the rest of the world.
“What kept me in the game for so long is just those little eureka moments where you see those smiles and the light bulbs go off when they’re making connections between theory and practice and they’re achieving skill, mastery. I’m here for the smiles and I want to continue to provide those smiles and that access to the sport.
“A lot of thank you are going out to people because honestly, I’ve only been able to get here standing on the shoulders of giants and people who have helped me hone my craft and just become a better instructor and coach. First and foremost, my start in the Sea Cadet program, Ontario Sailing, Westwood Sailing Club, Sail Canada, as well as a number of my mentors: Sarah Urquhart, Jenny Davey, Dave Zeni, Cam Lymburner, Charlie Rishor, Steve McBride, and Ryan Kelly.
“Thank you all for all of the little helps tips and tricks over the years to just make my instructing and coaching a lot better and hopefully we’ll see you out on the water.”
Byczko has been teaching for over a decade at the Westwood Sailing Club in Toronto, where he is now the Head Instructor.
He has been offering group lessons for the CANSail curriculum, and also offering private classes to people who cannot attend group classes. He has also been active in making the yearly training schedule and also in recruiting other instructors. Alex promotes the club and sailing in the province through his community support and Toronto International Boat Show sailing seminars.
He has additionally been working with Ontario Sailing at multiple clubs in the Greater Toronto Area as an instructor, notably teaching people with a disability, and as a Master Learning Facilitator coaching people who would like to become instructors. He has also been teaching abroad, in such countries as Costa Rica and Bahamas.
From the nomination form:
“He has always shown enthusiasm about teaching, and his attitude has attracted many new members to the club, but also encouraged members to return to the club. Some clubs have even referred new students to the Westwood Sailing Club just because of Alex’s quality of teaching. He has never hesitated to go beyond his role as an instructor to promote the club and sailing in Toronto, something which has never been part of his mandate. He has also always stepped up to make the club better, which involved doing boat repair, shopping for boat parts, photography and making donations such as new sails and used boats.”